The selection of shops in a luxury hotel can speak volumes about its brand. I thought about this recently as a good friend and I were talking about a new 5 star hotel that opened in a major European capital and their shops. The default solution for hotel retail is often global luxury retailers and I doubt that nowhere is this truer than in Shanghai where it seems every top hotel has LVMH, Hermes, Prada and the like and, equally important, little else.
Today we read about the growing interest of the affluent in authenticity and hotels that offer a sense of place. A great deal of thought and care can go into the selection of hotel décor and artwork for that very reason. So instead of the ubiquitous luxury retailers, why not feature the best of local fashion designers, artists and craftsmen?
When Salvatore Ferragamo opened his Tuscan retreat Il Borro, not only did he have fine leather, jewelry and woodworking craftsmen, but also, their workshops on site. Granted, that’s difficult for an urban hotel, but how about a shop that is exquisitely curated, similar to the ones found in museums, but where local (note I say local) fashion accessories, beautiful objets, and gift items are presented and sold?
Some of you might remember what the W hotel in New York did when it opened. It had one of those “concept” like shops which generated a lot of media coverage. It also became a destination in itself, attracting travelers from other hotels and local residents who came, saw, and probably oftentimes stayed for a drink or a meal. Plus, it made a statement that W was creative and hip. More recently, Ace Hotels have done the same.
Getting back to the point about global luxury brands. To be sure, they do offer the benefit of imparting a luxury pedigree (you’re known by the company you keep), but at least one or two hotel shops that are original, creative and of the place can have multiple marketing and sales benefits.