West Elm’s Foray into Hospitality
Brooklyn, New York-based House and Home Accessories retailer West Elm, will be adding ‘Hotelier’ to their resume by announcing their plans to open a chain of hotels in late 2018. According to Business Insider, each hotel will have between 100 and 250 rooms, with rates ranging from $175 for a standard room to $400 for a suite. Each room will be furnished with West Elm products (minus the price tags). If you’re thinking this will be just like sleeping in a showroom, fret not. West Elm has made it clear that their hotels will be more than just furniture and accessories – they will branch out fully to create an overall hospitality experience with their branded hotels, prompting the question: will the store model become obsolete for furniture retailers?
Including the locals
The goal of each location is to include aspects of the region – local artists, local fare, and hiring local people to work at the hotel. By working in aspects of the surrounding neighborhood, West Elm hopes to add a community feel. A common mistake made by furniture companies is over-exposure with more retail stores opened than needed for their demand. With so much competition in the home goods space, this move is ground breaking and may very well lead the way for other furniture brands. While speaking to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Jim Brett stated, “Where many retail brands have put the nail in their coffins is by opening too many stores,” In opening hotels instead of more retail stores, West Elm can spread out their market presence and reach a new audience with an equal number of stores as they have hotels.
Try it before you buy it
Each room will be furnished with the retailer’s tables, chairs, beds, linens, and more, which will be available for purchase through an app guests can download upon check-in. Guests can enjoy their experience within the hotel and try the furnishings, bedding and linens, while deciding if these are items they wish to purchase. It’s a genius way to create brand loyalty and life-long customers.
Breaking ground in late 2018
While West Elm isn’t the first retail company to turn to the hospitality industry to grow their business, they are the first to offer a lower to mid-range price tag, with the high-end feel of a boutique hotel in various locations in the United States. The starter locations for West Elm’s hotels are Charlotte, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Detroit, Michigan; Savannah, Georgia; and Minneapolis, Minnesota (the properties will be operated by hospitality management company DDK). Other brands that took this turn in their business recently include high-end home furnishings retailer Restoration Hardware announcing their plans to also open a boutique hotel in New York City (2015), and high-end gym brand Equinox.
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