Phil Cordell, Global Category Head of Lifestyle Brands at Hilton and Global Brand Head of Canopy by Hilton, explains how the company is targeting this rapidly growing category.
Here Phil Cordell, Global Category Head, Hilton Lifestyle Brands, shares his insights into the lifestyle sector, details on Hilton’s three lifestyle brands and explains how he connects with local communities while traveling.
Cordell has more than three decades of experience in the travel industry and has launched iconic Hilton brands such as Hampton, Home2 Suites and Tru. Today he leads the strategic growth and development of Hilton’s Lifestyle category, which includes Canopy by Hilton, Motto by Hilton and Tempo by Hilton.
Can you tell us a bit about the lifestyle concept and explain Hilton’s attitude towards this category?
At the beginning, lifestyle hotels tended to represent the “cool kids’ club”. They had dramatic lighting, loud music, and were viewed as aloof by many. At Hilton, we wanted to make the lifestyle accessible, but still be ambitious, design-oriented and culturally relevant.
Our target group doesn’t want a cookie cutter approach. They want a great atmosphere and an authentic experience. So we created properties that are comfortable, but also have that unique Instagrammable factor.
How is staying at a Hilton Lifestyle hotel different from a traditional hotel experience?
Certain hotels have a very special feeling. It’s like everything comes from a catalog. The furniture is almost overly curated and matching, and the space is very segmented. There is a managed inconsistency in our lifestyle hotels. There is a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of novelty.
We use this idea from 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 a little different from what you’d expect but not so unusual that you wouldn’t want to try it.
At our lifestyle hotels, guests can expect someone at the front desk who is familiar with the neighborhood, knows the fun places and can be a resource throughout their stay. The hotels are intimate and accessible, with public areas that invite you. You can be casual and comfortable, and still feel a little pampered.
Can you describe the different brand personalities of Motto, Tempo and Canopy?
Motto is aimed at the urban explorer and for those who want to be in the city center. The rooms have a smaller, more efficient footprint, but also offer flexible floor plans and the option of connecting up to nine rooms for larger group trips. Our hotels provide a launch pad for the local scene, not the tourist attractions. The motto is for someone who is more cost conscious but wants to enjoy quality local food and drinks. It is designed as a community hub in the heart of emerging urban areas.
Aimed at a broader group of guests, Tempo offers an upscale yet accessible experience that caters to both professional and personal travel needs. You will find more consistency here, but there will be some unique touches to each accommodation, be it the design or the food and drink options. Tempo hotels, which will be located in suburban areas, have a more modern design and an uplifting feel.
After all, Canopy is all about experiencing a destination like a local. It’s a vibrant boutique hotel brand for those looking to explore but also prefer a more upscale and upscale experience. Each property feels like an extension of the neighborhood, with locally inspired design elements and team members expert on the city’s newest hotspots. Canopy offers a nifty yet comfortable breathing space.
How do you encourage innovation and creative thinking in your Hilton team?
I see our lifestyle space as an area where we are licensed to play around, test, learn and innovate. We are thoughtful and directional, but not prescriptive. We allow ourselves to try many things. When you allow your team to think differently and encourage that mindset, cool things will happen.
We find inspiration everywhere. For example, one of our coworkers was walking in New York and looking at her phone and a guy said to her, “Do you ever take a minute to look up?” When she told this story, it resonated with us .
We thought about how we can integrate the “look up” ethos into our brands. It fits perfectly with the motivated, motivated mindset of the target group of Tempo. That is why we are now integrating “look-up” moments into the guest experience – be it through a unique work of art on the ceiling or an interaction at the reception where our team members always look up and make eye contact with a guest.
You are a seasoned traveler who has spent most of your adult life in distant places. What is your personal travel style?
There are a few travel habits that I have acquired over the years. For one thing, I never check a bag unless it’s an extremely long journey. I also reuse the plastic dry cleaning bags and stack them so that my packed clothes don’t crease.
On a more meaningful level, in every trip I take, I do at least one thing that connects me with the local community. It could be across the street to a new local coffee shop, or check out a cool little donut shop that just opened. It makes every trip a learning experience and a little adventure.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared on the Hilton Newsroom website.