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The company, best known for its namesake luxury hotel brand, is debuting a new upscale hotel brand that’s geared to the “business traveler of today,” as Robert Cheng, vice president of brand marketing described.
Khos, Cheng said it would be a “business hotel with a distinct lifestyle orientation that’s meant for the business traveler of today who’s on the go, whose lines between work and play blur, and who doesn’t want to sacrifice style for personality.”
He said the brand is especially attuned to today’s working economy, including the specific needs of digital nomads.
“If you think about how we work today, it’s more collaborative and dynamic and about meetings and connections,” Cheng said. “But business hotels today haven’t caught up to that. You have these great lifestyle hotels, but they’re not necessarily catering to business travelers’ needs. There’s a white space in the market for this kind of business hotel, and there’s no one serving that market.”
Another main feature of the brand, he said, would be its emphasis on bringing Asian hospitality to a larger, global scale. The brand’s name, Khos, comes from the Mongolian word for “pair,” for example. Cheng said, “This is a face of Asia that’s not as well known,” referring to some of the region’s most vibrant marketplaces and urban centers and the fact that the brand will have “a design perspective that presents modern-day Asia.”
More details on Khos, he added, will be revealed over the next few months, and the first hotel is expected to open next year. While Cheng wouldn’t say where the first hotel would be, he did say that Rosewood is looking at both newbuild and conversion opportunities.
Is Launching a Business Hotel a Smart Move Today?
While leisure travel occupancy in hotels, globally, has continued to rise, one troublesome spot, at least in some regions — including the U.S. — has been corporate travel. For the past few quarters, “softness” has been a predominant descriptor of the corporate travel market for major hotel companies such as Marriott and Hilton.
So, why is Rosewood betting on business travel with Khos?
Cheng said the brand is about having “hotels with functionality that are for the modern-day business traveler, not just the corporate traveler.”
Whereas other business hotel brands are more heavily invested in the corporate travel market, Khos will be a brand that can appeal to other working professionals who may not necessarily be booking their travel through a travel management company or agency. He added, “It’s for people who travel for business.”
In other words, he sees the brand appealing to digital nomads and creatives, too, and not just bankers.
“We took a look at the economy today and how people are working in this new digital economy,” Cheng said.
When Skift asked Cheng whether the new brand would incorporate co-working spaces, he remained mum but said there would certainly be a “social aspect” to the brand’s design. He said that the brand is seeing how it can reinvent business centers, restaurants, public spaces, spas, meeting rooms, and other hallmarks of the traditional business hotel.
A New Breed of Business Hotel
Khos may be filling a bit of a white space, as Cheng noted, but there have been brands that have come before it that have also attempted to be more of a lifestyle hotel that caters to business, and to change people’s perceptions of more utilitarian environments.
One prime example of that move toward a new kind of business hotel was W Hotels. Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Hotels & Resorts and the creator of W, had envisioned creating a boutique hotel brand that had global scale, but could just as easily please creatives and suits alike.
Al Petrone, former director of operations for W Hotels from 1999 to 2001, told Skift, the brand’s target demographic “ended up being much larger than what we anticipated.” He said, “We had thought it would be ages 25 to 45 and actually, what we found is, once we opened, all the suits, people that were even older than 45, 55, 65, all the suits that had previously been over at the Bull and Bear, the famous bar, at the Waldorf-Astoria, were coming over to the original W. I think what we found is that human beings wanted to be around that vibe, that environment.”
Over time, W Hotels has since evolved to be more of a luxury brand, but the boutique and lifestyle aspect of the brand remains intact.
And even today, more established and traditional hotel brands like InterContinental Hotel Group’s Crowne Plaza brand, are also investing in adding more lifestyle elements into the traditional business hotel model.
What will be interesting to watch with regard to Khos is how different it will be from the business hotel as we know it today — and if travelers will respond to its take on business travel.
How Rosewood contrasts Khos against its other two brands — upper upscale New World Hotels and upper midscale Pentahotels — will also be noteworthy. A Rosewood spokesperson told Skift Khos would “sit right under Rosewood” in terms of chain scale category.
Rosewood currently describes Asia-based New World Hotels and Resorts as “deluxe properties favored by business travelers and meeting planners” while Europe-based Pentahotels “is a design-driven, neighborhood lifestyle brand providing independent travelers with comfort and style in a contemporary environment.” How Khos manages to blend both business and lifestyle in a more upscale space, and how it is positioned against these brands as well as others, will be interesting to watch.