Voice of an Expert: An Insider’s Guide to Hilton Lifestyle Hotel Brands
Phil Cordell, Global Category Manager for Lifestyle Brands at Hilton and Global Brand Manager for Canopy by Hilton, explains how the company is targeting this fast-growing category.
Here, Phil Cordell, Global Category Manager, Hilton Lifestyle Brands, shares his perspective on the lifestyle industry, provides details on Hilton’s three lifestyle brands and explains how he connects with communities local when traveling.
Cordell has over three decades of experience in the travel industry, launching iconic Hilton brands such as Hampton, Home2 Suites and Tru. He now oversees the strategic growth and development of Hilton’s lifestyle category, which includes Canopy by Hilton, Motto by Hilton and Tempo by Hilton.
Can you give us a background on the concept of lifestyle and explain Hilton’s take on the category?
In its early days, lifestyle hotels were more of the “cool kids club”. They had dramatic lighting, loud music, and were considered by many to be inaccessible. At Hilton, we wanted to make the lifestyle accessible but still ambitious, design-driven and culturally relevant.
Our target audience doesn’t want a cookie-cutter approach. They want a good atmosphere and an authentic experience. So we created comfortable properties while having that unique Instagrammable factor.
How is a stay at a Hilton lifestyle hotel different from a traditional hotel experience?
Some hotels have a very special atmosphere. It’s as if everything came from a catalog. The furniture is almost too organized and coordinated, and the space is very segmented. In our lifestyle hotels, there is a managed inconsistency. There is a sense of familiarity, but there is also a sense of novelty.
We use this idea of 60-30-10. 60% of the experience provides enough familiarity for a customer to feel comfortable. The next 30% make someone think “this is more than I expected”. And the last 10% is the wow factor. For example, a craft cocktail from the bar would be slightly different than you would expect, but not so unusual that you didn’t want to try it.
At our lifestyle hotels, guests can expect someone at the front desk to be connected to the local neighborhood, knowing the fun spaces to explore and being a resource throughout their stay. The hotels are intimate and accessible and have public spaces that invite you to enter. You can be laid back and comfortable, while still feeling a little pampered.
Can you describe the different personalities of the Motto, Tempo and Canopy brand?
Motto is aimed at the urban explorer and those who want to be in the city center. The rooms have a smaller and more efficient footprint, but also offer flexible layouts and the ability to connect up to nine rooms for larger group travel. Our hotels provide a launching pad for the local scene, not tourist attractions. The motto is for someone who is more cost conscious but wants to enjoy quality, local food and drink. It is designed to be a community hub at the heart of emerging urban areas.
Tempo targets a larger customer demographic, delivering a high-quality yet accessible experience that meets both business and personal travel needs. You’ll find more consistency here, but there will be unique touches to each property, whether through the design or the food and drink offerings. The Tempo hotels, which will be located in peri-urban areas, have a more contemporary design and an uplifting atmosphere.
Finally, Canopy is about discovering a destination like a local. It’s a vibrant boutique hotel brand for those who want to explore but also prefer a higher, upscale experience. Each property feels like an extension of the neighborhood, with locally inspired design elements and team members who are experts in the city’s new hotspots. Canopy provides sophisticated yet comfortable respite.
How do you encourage innovation and creative thinking within your Hilton team?
I see our living space as a space where we have the right to play, test, learn and innovate. We are thoughtful and directional, but not prescriptive. We give ourselves permission to try a lot of things. If you allow your team to think outside the box and encourage this type of thinking, interesting things will happen.
You can find inspiration everywhere. For example, one of our coworkers was walking around New York, looking at his phone, and a guy said to him, “Are you taking a minute to look up yet?” When she shared this story, it resonated with us.
We have thought about how to integrate the “research” philosophy into our brands. This perfectly matched the motivated and motivated mindset of Tempo’s target audience. Thus, we now integrate moments of “research” into the customer experience, whether through a unique work of art on the ceiling or an interaction at the reception where the members of our team will always raise the eyes and make eye contact with a client.
You are a seasoned traveler who has spent most of your adult life in remote places. What’s your personal travel style?
There are a few travel habits that I have acquired over the years. For one thing, unless it’s an extremely long trip, I never check in a bag. I also reuse the plastic dry cleaning bags, layering them on top of each other to keep my wrapped clothes from wrinkling.
On a more meaningful level, with every trip I take, I do at least one thing that connects me to the local community. It could be crossing the street to a new local cafe or visiting a cool little donut store that just opened. It makes every trip a learning experience and a bit of adventure.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared on the Hilton Newsroom site.