Keeping Integrity While Inviting Change

The Future of a Classic Hotel

By Scott A. Mills General Manager, The Beverly Garland | June 15, 2014

The hospitality industry is constantly reinventing itself to stay on trend with not only what competitors are doing, but also what is expected and desired from consumers. That said, rebranding a hotel is not something new, it is likely something many of us have been part of more than once and will continue to cycle through in our careers.

While writing this article, I am currently part of a team in the midst of renovating, rebranding and completely transforming an iconic hotel in North Hollywood, California – The Beverly Garland. The property will debut later this year as The Garland. Built in the early 1970s by Fillmore Crank for his wife, actress Beverly Garland, the hotel has been a hideaway for the Hollywood and music industry elite, home to many movie and television show sets and a choice hotel for families and couples visiting Los Angeles.

As part of the renovation, ownership has chosen to remove the flag of an international hotel brand and re-conceptualize the property and transition it to an independent, boutique hotel that relishes in its vibrant history while offering what today's travelers need, want and expect in this ever-evolving market. During this process, a lot of thought was put into how to respect the past while creating a future brand. We are aiming to reposition and re-launch the hotel as a next step – a big step – to a new and improved version with added services, special touches and a hotel Angelenos and visitors alike will continue to love and cherish.

When converting a hotel into an independent property – still family-owned and run – it is imperative to keep the integrity of the hotel at the forefront. A transformation such as this is years in the making – decisions are not made with haste, but carefully and meticulously thought out to ensure the original purpose of the hotel's existence continues to be conveyed throughout its new shape, form and place in the industry.

An original muse to her husband while building the property more than 40 years ago, Beverly Garland remains an inspiration for the redesign of the property today. Her motto, "It's the personal touch that counts" is not only something overheard almost daily on property – and reflective in our service – is prevalent in every design decision that takes place as we plan the next era for the historic hotel.

When rebranding an iconic hotel property that both ownership and the community (as well as past guests alike) have grown to love and feel a part of, there is a lot of emotional attachment involved. It is important to respect the past, but also necessary to make changes for the future. In making design decisions – as well as introducing new venues and partners – the need for balance, open-mindedness and compromise comes into play. It is critical to achieve buy in from all parties involved to ensure a smooth process. It is also very important to balance form and function.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.