Hotel companies, many of which saw huge drops in overseas guests during the pandemic, realized they needed to appeal to local residents more to boost revenue. So they're increasing their efforts to make their properties feel like home for local communities.
Standard International has expanded significantly worldwide in recent years, debuting properties in Ibiza last week in addition to its plan to open the Bangkok Mahanakhon this summer. But CEO Amber Asher said the company’s goals isn’t simply to attract overseas visitors to those hotels — but to become a focal point of the destinations it sets up shop in.
“We want the local community to feel at home in our spaces as much as the traveler (who’s) checking out New York for the first time,” Asher, who was named CEO last October, said in a discussion moderated by Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum in New York.
Asher cited an example from its new hotel in Ibiza, where Standard spent a lot of time scouring the area to find, among other things, local DJs.
“We’re not going to take our brand and say, ‘You’re just going to love this New York or California version of Standard.’ We get in with local designers, chefs, musicians. We moved people to different places to be part of the community.”
Appealing to local communities has been a successful formula for Standard. Asher stated 90 percent of the company’s food and beverage clientele in the New York area are members of the local community.
“We build for the community, and we understand our guests will appreciate it,” Asher said.
In addition to international expansion, she said the company is also targeting U.S. cities outside of the major international gateways such as Austin and Nashville for Standard and Chattanooga for its Bunkhouse brand.
“People (who) were our clientele that were coming to Standard have moved out of big cities … that energy has moved to other locales,” Asher said.
Asher also touched on the biggest challenges facing the hotel industry since the start of the pandemic — filling open positions, especially as hotel companies are still grappling with labor shortages ahead of the busy summer season. She said that Standard is casting a wide net for hiring.
“We need some people to come from hospitality, but not everyone to come from hospitality,” Asher said, adding that Standard has hired workers who have come from fields such as public relations, fashion and music. “We were lucky to keep a lot of team during Covid … but we did have some key positions to hire when Covid was over.”
CORRECTION: The article has been updated to say Standard will open the Bangkok Mahanakhon this summer. An earlier version of this article stated that hotel opened this month. In addition, the cities Standard is targeting to expand its brands to have been clarified.
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Photo credit: Standard CEO Amber Asher speaking at Skift Future of Lodging