Conrad's "Smart Luxury" positioning is an attempt to expand on the "personal" and "experiential" luxury memes, which have become overused cliches, with more indepth local travel options for successful, well-traveled professionals.
Conrad Hotels is repositioning around its new Conrad 1/3/5 content campaign effective today, designed to differentiate the luxury hospitality brand not just from other upscale hotel groups, but also its sister Waldorf Astoria Hotels flag.
Both Conrad and Waldorf Astoria are operated by Hilton Worldwide.
The new brand initiative provides suggested local travel itineraries for 1-, 3- and 5-hour timeframes in the destinations where Conrad operates. The content is now living on the new StayInspired.com website, which redirects to the brand.com site, and the Conrad Concierge app.
The shift here is that many travel brands are promoting local experiences but their content often highlights the most mainstream options, whereas Conrad 1/3/5 is attempting to showcase more immersive experiences that appeal to ambitious, well-educated, and well-traveled professionals.
The Hilton creative teams are also developing new branded content for as yet unnamed travel consumer media brand, supported with new social media programs revolving around the #StayInspired hashtag and brand tagline.
If up until now you didn’t really know the difference between the Conrad and Waldorf Astoria value propositions, you weren’t alone. Here are Hilton Worldwide’s internal brand identities for the two hotel companies following today’s official repositioning of Conrad:
Conrad Hotels: “Smart Luxury” — A launch pad for ambitious, over-achieving, on-the-go professionals to discover a destination through places inspired by that specific destination. Active travel, not hotel-centric travel, for people who seamlessly blend work/play. Emphasis is about self-improvement and actualization by exploring local culture and meeting local people to expand global perspectives, delivered with Conrad 1/3/5 and other digital/tech platforms.
Waldorf Astoria Hotels: “Unforgettable Experiences” — Focus is on landmark hotels designed for wealthy customers who want to feel “rich in life” (versus just rich) with memorable, high-touch, high-service travel experiences. Hotel-centric travel celebrating brand’s iconic heritage with emphasis on in-house spa, golf, pool, F&B and entertainment, and immediate neighborhood.
Therefore, Conrad Hotels clearly embraces the Millennial mindset that places a premium on insider travel that connects consumers with authentic neighborhoods.
Presently, there are 24 Conrad properties in operation, with another 21 scheduled to open by 2020. Because of that robust development pipeline, Hilton Worldwide had to get its brand storytelling in shape to help fill all those new beds.
Smart is the new sexy in hospitality, and Conrad is jumping on that. The entire industry went through its “design hotels” phase to create a more modern, vibrant and trendy guest experience, capped by the launch of over a dozen new design-forward “lifestyle hotel” brands in 2014.
With modern design now ubiquitous among all new-builds and reconstructions, there’s a distinct consumer demand shift toward more intelligent travel that inspires our personal muses and supports our professional development. Conrad 1/3/5 was created to do just that, while at the same time, it gives Hilton’s modern luxury flag a more distinct identity.
“One of the most common questions I used to get from our Conrad hotel owners was, ‘What’s the difference between Conrad and Waldorf Astoria?'” says Stuart Foster, VP global marketing, luxury/lifestyle brands at Hilton Worldwide. “Now I have an answer. We call it ‘Smart Luxury.'”
Behind The Content
During the initial brainstorming sessions for 1/3/5, everyone at Conrad agreed that today’s travel consumers don’t need to be spoon fed. So, for example, no one traveling to New York needs a major hotel brand to suggest a visit to MoMA or Peter Lugers.
“We’re not going to tell you how to visit the World Trade Center, because you can figure that out yourself,” Foster told us. “But maybe there’s a little local restaurant nearby that isn’t widely publicized, which we like to visit. Or maybe you want to visit Tokyo’s Tsukiji (ski-jee) fish market to watch the fish auction. We’re going to show you how you can curate a whole experience around that.”
To put a public face on 1/3/5, Conrad hired Nilou Motamed as Director of Inspiration, similar to a creative director at a couture fashion house who stewards the marriage of new trends with old codes.
Previously editor-in-chief at Conde Nast’s Epicurious, and features director at Travel + Leisure, Motamed is developing the complete content lineup and delivery for the brand. She was born in Iran and raised in Paris and New York, so she fits the consummate Conrad guest profile.
“So we’re really the first brand to kind of have a point of view, says Foster, which is a bit ambitious of a statement. “Today, you have to stand for something. If you’re just a pretty hotel with great design, an amazing bed, great food and beverage, then you might as well take Conrad Hotels off the front of the building and just be X Hotel, and some people have chosen to do that.”
Content for each hotel is themed around six categories: food/drink, art/design, culture, family, adventure, shopping. Fosters says all of the suggested experiences are outside the hotel and off-the-beaten path.
In London for example, one of the 1-hour suggestions is “Meet the Makers of Mayfair,” designed for travelers interested in England’s sartorial splendors off Savile Row:
Between the international chain stores on Oxford Street and the high-fashion houses lining Mount Street, Mayfair is something of a shopping destination. We suggest you take an hour to explore its artisanal side. At The New Craftsmen, you’ll find modern homewares handcrafted by British makers. A few roads east, on Duke Street, a fresh crop of boutiques offers U.K.-made—and sometimes custom-crafted—goods. Here, fashion designer Patrick Grant (of Savile Row label Norton & Sons) recently unveiled the first store for 19th-century menswear label E. Tautz, featuring tailoring services in the basement; the eco-chic shoemaker Penelope Chilvers has opened an outpost with a studio for made-to-measure “dandy slippers”; and Laura Apsit Livens, who previously designed hats for Philip Treacy, has set up her own millinery in a Victorian staircase (fans of her toppers include members of the royal family, including Princess Beatrice). Grab a coffee from the café at the elevated (yet hidden) Brown Hart Gardens.
Motamed’s hand is clearly evident here, bringing an experienced travel editor’s detailed precision to the subject. All of the content pieces are followed by Google Maps and booking functionality, and some of them have video content.
Foster says Conrad is developing varying degrees of relationships with these third parties to expand on content opportunities in the future. The goal eventually is to have one or more videos for every 1/3/5 experience.
“Some of them love the attention, some of them couldn’t care less,” he adds. “But we’re not selling these experiences. We’re just showing you how the destination can inspire you.”
Will Conrad 1/3/5 drive additional business to Conrad Hotels? Yes. The campaign was created to capture the attention of a fast growing market niche, and you get the sense that this level and quality of content will be standard operating procedure in the future.
“Consumers are more willing to engage with a brand if there’s an understanding how that brand can be part of their life,” sums up Foster. “So this is not a revenue generator, it’s an image generator. We want people to look at Conrad Hotels and think: ‘I get that. That’s how I travel.'”
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Photo credit: Homepage of Conrad Hotels' new StayInspired.com portal with local travel suggestions for different timeframes. Conrad Hotels