Michael Levie, chief operations officer at citizenM, gave hoteliers plenty of food for thought with his opening keynote presentation at this year's Revenue Strategy Forum London, held Monday at the Amba Hotel Charing Cross.
During his presentation on "Making your competition irrelevant," Levie called on the industry to take a different look at its business model.
"We think we are incredibly talented with innovation but end up producing roughly the same thing," Levie said as he presented a slide of hotel bedroom photos and asked the 120-strong audience to find the differentiator.
In his presentation on Blue Ocean strategy, Levie explained how many businesses swim in a red ocean, competing against each other, while those in a blue ocean set themselves free from competition by doing something ground breaking. By being different there is no competition.
Levie explained how the hotel industry can use context to change the similar way of thinking.
"We are very good at creating content and processes, but context makes it easier for people to grasp what we are doing," he said, going on to explain the thinking behind the citizenM brand and how its hotels aim to sit between the luxury and mid-market segments.
"We decided to take a look at those people who travel frequently. They are habitual in what they do and are strong minded in what is important to them. For example, having WiFi in their room is as important as having streaming water.
"We decided to do things differently and create something relevant to them. We call it affordable luxury."
Built from a pre-fabricated modular design, each citizenM room is just 14 square meters with a focus on high-tech, a great bed and good shower.
"We learnt to say 'No'. We are not the answer in many cases," Levie admitted, pointing out that the modular rooms are possibly not conducive to family stays. "We have created just one room, with a focus to bring the cost down and making it efficient. It's a different way of thinking," he said, citing Stephen Herfst's quote: "By being everything to everyone you're nothing to anyone".
The modular nature of the properties means than new hotels can be built in a matter of months.
While the rooms may be small, the communal space at citizenM is built to create a living room environment where travellers can work, socialise or relax.
"We offer a co-working, co-living lifestyle; for frequent travellers this is what they need," he said. "We wanted to shift context away from 'we're only a hotel'. We are a hotel, office, home, network," he added.
Levie closed his keynote by encouraging the audience to look at things differently, find new processes, and change their mindset on when to say 'Yes' and when to say 'No.'
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Sarah McCay Tams
Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.