The latest Business 2.0 has an article on Chip Conley’s Joie de Vivre Hospitality, the largest boutique hotelier in California. What makes him unique is that he thinks about the properties he develops as if he were a magazine editor. “Each of the 35 hotels we’ve done was based on one or two magazines and the five words that define their personality.”
Conley was 26 when he bought his first hotel. It was 1987, and the place was a pay-by-the-hour motel—talk about transactional!—in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. As Conley contemplated its renovation, it dawned on him that magazine publishing was “a great role model for boutique hotels. It’s niche-oriented, lifestyle-oriented, and the ideal for a magazine is to create a deep emotional connection with its subscribers.”
Conley decided that his new hotel, the Phoenix, would have a persona modeled on Rolling Stone and the phrases he thought defined it. “It was helpful in describing for our investors and designers’ contractors what we were trying to do,” he says. It also helped to define the target market. “Not just in terms of a demographic—the 26-year-old tattooed musician from L.A.—but a psychographic,” Conley says. “People who fell in love with the Phoenix would use those five words to describe themselves. Instead of ‘you are what you eat,’ it’s ‘you are where you sleep.’”
For the curious, the five words that describe the Phoenix are funky, hip, young at heart, irreverent, and adventurous. And it is.