Think about arriving at a traditional luxury hotel. As a modern, mobile traveler, you check-in at the front desk in the back of a spacious lobby. It’s elegantly designed, but serves no function other than to house guests waiting to check-in. The check-in process itself is tedious, and you wonder why it couldn’t be more efficient. When you arrive at your suite, it’s also quite large, and contains the standard set of amenities: a large desk, a chocolate on your pillow, and of course an outdated landline phone from 1997.
This is the model that hotels have operated under for the past 300 years, and this is the model that citizenM seeks to fundamentally disrupt. Co-founded in 2005 by Rattan Chadha and Michael Levie, citizenM is a “luxury hybrid hotel for today’s modern travelers.” A hotel where young, mobile travelers can work, relax, play and be inspired.
The brand’s motto is to provide “affordable luxury for the people,” but this belies how it is fundamentally transforming the concept of hospitality.
The citizenM Approach: Embrace the Mobile Traveler
There is no concierge, no valet, no baggage handlers, and no room service. Chadha and Levie believe in “high-touch” service 一 but only when it actually serves the guest. For example, a traditional in-person check-in might technically be “high touch,” but adding 10-20 mintues to complete an administrative ritual isn’t enhancing the guest experience. So instead of a front desk, citizenM opts for a mobile self-check-in, with touch-screen kiosks in the lobby to process your reservation and room key. The entire check-in process takes only 60 seconds to complete. If you’re especially rushed, you can also check-in online, add amenities and extras, and receive a personalized QR code that gives you access to your room key. Your room keys also contain RFID chips that let them double as luggage IDs and a mobile payment platform.
Advanced mobile technology and data analytics lie at the heart of citizenM’s revolution in hospitality, but it does not pursue technology for technology’s sake.
“Intuitive technology can make the guest experience more frictionless,” says Michael Levie, “but technology cannot transform the guest experience by itself. We embrace technology wholeheartedly, but only insofar as it can make the guest experience more streamlined and memorable.”
The citizenM brand was built with a very specific guest in mind– the mobile traveler. Before Rattan Chadha started disrupting the hotel industry, he owned a Dutch clothing company called Mexx. He wanted to create a hotel that his 20-30 something professional designers would want to stay in 一 at a price their market segment could afford. Chadha called the new venture “citizenM,” where “M” stands for “mobile.” Mobile citizens are international, forward-thinking, and socially conscientious. They are looking for a unique, streamlined and authentic hotel experience, at a price they can afford.
While they want their guest journey to be seamless and mobile friendly, they are less enthusiastic about traditional amenities such as on-site spas, large guest rooms, or in-room robes and slippers.
Chadha and Levie modeled their new type of hotel after these types of customers. citizenM is one of the first hotel brands to be built entirely from prefabricated rooms: Each room has the same 150 square feet of space, the same layout, and are all sold for the same price. Instead of excess space, the rooms feature a number of high-tech and high-end amenities designed to entice today’s modern travelers. These include a plush, wall to-wall super king-sized bed, a wall-to wall window, futuristic rain showers, and Skype-based telephones. Rooms are also equipped with a MoodPad, a specialized iPad that lets the guest control every facet of their room.
This article was originally written by the GX Spotlight team. It has been moved here as part of the Shiji Group family of hospitality technology brands.