Pop-up Start-ups & Extended Stay: The Growing Creative Class and Their Demands on Hospitality

By Jackson Thilenius Principal, Retail Design Collaborative | May 20, 2018

You see them everywhere now. Pop-ups and start-ups are seemingly on every corner. Their scattering outbreak is indicative of a retail revolution that is gaining traction at an accelerated rate. Jokingly, one could try to equate this to the overwhelming popularity and success of food trucks, but the reality is that Amazon and the wireless delivery system have seriously impacted the traditional shopping centers that once dominated the retail landscape.

Real estate developers with empty storefronts and under-utilized properties are slashing rents and becoming more flexible with their tenant selections in order to keep the lights on. Pop-ups have evolved out of necessity and are filling the voids of opportunity with inventive marketing and progressive retailing. With short-term leases and entrepreneurial attitudes, pop-ups and start-ups are revolutionizing the retail industry. They are using the current transformation in the industry to bring bespoke, unique, custom goods to people using unorthodox displays while leveraging the power of low overhead. For many consumers, this type of "guerilla retail" somehow feels like a more authentic experience than the ones they find in traditional retail settings.

The Thrill of Discovery

Consumers see these start-ups as a genuine and transparent offering of goods that haven't been inflated by the overhead that more "polished" shopping environments might provide. Individuality and the thrill of discovery lead the way in this consumer frenzy, driven by limited-time offers and one-of-a-kind product offerings. Consequently, being small, genuine and locally-sourced has tremendous cache in today's climate otherwise highlighted by starkly opposed political opinions and community upheaval. People are seeking a return to authenticity and the individuals spearheading this phenomenon are finding real success riding on a wave of hope. The presence of pop-ups alone fosters the belief that independence and control over our destinies as individuals isn't just a nice dream. To many, pop-ups and start-ups are symbols of empowerment and freedom, representing a willful divergence from spoon-fed consumerism. 

Pop-Ups & Their Benefits for Hospitality

What does this have to do with hospitality? Everything! Opportunity abounds in this world of transitory/sudden/rare/select retail offerings that tell the story of ground-up struggles and prideful successes. People love a good story, which is why I believe pop-ups and start-ups are a perfect marriage for the boutique hotel experience.

The Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Photo Credit: Robert Meyers Studio
The District on The Bloc, Los Angeles, CA Photo Credit: Carlos Hernandez Photography
Modern Times, Anaheim, CA Photo Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
Sheraton Grand, Los Angeles, CA Photo Credit: Carlos Hernandez Photography
Del Mar Food Hall, Del Mar, CA Photo Credit: Retail Design Collaborative
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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.