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At this point, over 700 lucky people are counting down the days to Unfold, the year’s most innovative hospitality event. Be quick if you’d like to join them – there are only a handful of tickets left.
We’re nowhere near running out of inspirational speakers though. Ahead of her panel session that will cover creating remarkable brand experiences, we speak to Naomi Heaton, CEO and Founder at The Other House, London Central Portfolio (LCP).
Growing her business from a one-woman show to a team managing assets worth over a billion pounds, Naomi has an encyclopedic knowledge of real-estate investment, acquisition, refurbishing and interior design. When it comes to the new standard in hospitality, she knows how to create a cohesive and engaging brand experience.
Read on for a preview of her excellent tips for harnessing the power of your brand through advocacy, loyalty and experiences. We’ll unfold the rest in Amsterdam on April 4th.
Give our readers a quick introduction to who you are and why you love hospitality.
After building my career as a director at the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, I imagined I was destined for a life in advertising. Little did I know that buying my first home in London’s Camden Town would later transform into not one, but two successful businesses.
With a love and keen eye for interiors, I started my own business of buying, renovating and selling properties in central London. This developed into London Central Portfolio (LCP), one of London’s leading residential real estate investment companies, advising overseas buyers.
Managing a large portfolio of rental properties on their behalf, I observed the rapidly changing lifestyle requirements of millennial tenants who were looking for small, aspirational and interior designed apartments in the very center of London – to be ‘where it’s at’ – with service on demand.
And so The Other House was born.
Exactly. At the other end of the spectrum, I could see hotel guests were on the lookout for a greater sense of place, somewhere they could feel like a local. I saw an opportunity to mash this all together and rethink the hospitality sector.
That’s when I created The Other House – a new concept that blends apartment-style living, hotel services on tap and private club amenities. Whether it’s for a night, a week or even a year, it’s your “other house” for as long as you’re in town.
Hospitality is constantly evolving, based on the ever-changing needs of the consumer. I love that about the industry – it’s never static; it has to remain on point.
What do you think the new standard in hospitality is? What will be important going forward?
In short, authenticity and creating memorable experiences.
Global events over the past few years, the pandemic being one, have caused many people to reset and rethink. It has made us more mindful of our choices to value the moment, and will undoubtedly change how we travel, probably for good. Seeking new and varied experiences, as well as feeling a part of the local neighborhood, will be the key touch points of the future.
With environmental responsibility climbing up the agenda as well, I see a future where guests embrace slow travel, taking fewer but longer trips. Perhaps extending business trips or adding a few days with friends or family.
What are the three big shifts and why?
- Sustainability: This is a global conversation. Conscious consumers are seeking out and supporting businesses that make a positive environmental and social impact. By making sustainable choices, travelers can shape a greener future together. Sustainability is a key motivator in everything we do at The Other House, and it is very much in our DNA. From architectural design and the way we build, to British furniture, recyclable packaging and healthy, locally produced food, sustainability is at the heart of each house.
- Slow travel: Slow travel will change the focus of the hotel sector as it starts to cater for longer stays and concentrate on creating a sense of place and belonging. Working virtually and being able to combine work with leisure has made this possible. Taking time will be the “new luxury” and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the environment and our own personal wellbeing.
- New experiences: We have seen people wanting to live like a local, rather than being treated as a transient hotel guest. We have seen greater value being put on placemaking, new experiences and spaces which offer flexibility. As part of this trend, we have seen a growing demand for private clubs that create a sense of community that guests can readily engage with. They offer a place to work, socialize or relax in. Our club at The Other House builds on shared values through curated members’ events which are embedded in the local culture.
Tell us more about the biggest hurdles and enablers in the hospitality industry.
Tech has been a great enabler, allowing businesses to carry on online and reducing touch points during the pandemic. The Other House is tech-based, and that’s a core pillar of the brand. Our app takes you on a seamless journey from booking, checking in, room entry and controls to booking restaurants and bars, ordering food and drink. It can even show you how busy the gym is and measure energy usage.
Crucially, it gives guests control to tailor their stay however they see fit. The use of technology enables many mundane interactions to be kept to a minimum, so the human touch can be more nuanced and sensitive. We can spend more time with those who still prefer a more hands-on approach.
Tech is equally important behind the scenes, as it offers the possibility to link all the operational systems together to optimize efficiency and control costs. It’s the road to the future in hospitality.
What does diversity mean to you in the hospitality industry?
Diversity means inclusivity. This is our aim at The Other House. Our residents come from diverse backgrounds and parts of the world – they could be with us for business, leisure, to study or just dropping in for a drink.
Each of them is on a different journey, but they all know where they want to be. Our aim is to create an environment that makes everyone feel engaged, welcome and equal. Our in-house team, our “otherhousemates” are equally diverse.
We want to give them a fantastic future to aim for and to give them the tools to develop and grow in their careers. They can become pioneers in the hospitality industry as they take part in the journey of The Other House, disrupting the hospitality sector as we know it.
Can you share any book recommendations with us?
I’d thoroughly recommend French Exit and Undermajordomo Minor, both by the hugely talented contemporary author Patrick deWitt.
Sorry, that’s it for now. The rest awaits you at Mews Unfold, along with many more inspirational speakers and excellent networking opportunities.
Anu prefers unscrambling words over mincing them. Always punny, sometimes funny. You will find her if you want to in the garden unless it's pouring down with rain.
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