ARRIVE Hotels is what happens when an ambitious team of young upstarts with backgrounds in hospitality, architecture and tech set out to disrupt the hotel industry and redefine the meaning of luxury accommodations.
Founded in 2012 by Chris Pardo and Peter Karpinski in Palm Springs, ARRIVE quickly opened three additional hotels in Austin, Wilmington, and Memphis, and are slated to open two more properties in Phoenix and Albuquerque by 2021.
Chris and Peter were both visionaries in their respective fields, with Chris charting new courses in hotel architecture and interior design, and Peter embracing the cutting edge of restaurant and hotel branding and development. Soon, they were joined by Ezra Callahan, Matt Steinberg, and David Issen, three college friends who formed an LA-based real estate development group called Artist & Recreation. Ezra also had the notable distinction of being the sixth employee at Facebook, as well as its first product manager. Later, they were joined by Noah Ellis, a life-long veteran of the hospitality industry, and Chris Putnam, who at 19 years old, was hired as Facebook’s youngest software engineer after hacking the site in 2005.
This team of hoteliers-cum-techies and techies-cum-hoteliers have embraced their background to inform the way the entire ARRIVE Hotels staff operates. The staff utilizes a robust tech stack that includes real-time guest text messaging, internal chat and ticketing systems, and a powerful cloud-based CRM to increase personalization, staff effectiveness and streamline the guest journey. As Matt explains:
“Our hotels work in an interdisciplinary, cross-departmental way every day. Because of our small size, and implementation of advanced mobile messaging technology, we have been able to effectively cross-train employees to serve in multiple roles. As a result, we often see interdepartmental initiatives with great outcomes.”
Local, Lowkey Luxury, Where Guests Feel Valued and “In the Know”
In spite of their diverse backgrounds, the team shared a passion to build a brand which embodied the values of local, lowkey luxury. ARRIVE properties invite guests to share in what makes their local neighborhoods special. Each property features thoughtfully designed spaces and carefully curated amenities which take direct inspiration from the unique neighborhoods where they’re located.
This passion for localism extends into ARRIVE’s service philosophy: “From the top to the bottom of the company, we care more about making our customers happy, because we love this town, this hotel, and these customers,” explains Matt Steinberg, “That means we try harder, work longer, and never stop thinking about how to make sure our customers leave happier than when they arrived.” ARRIVE hotels are consciously located in interesting, walkable neighborhoods, and staff go to great lengths to make their guests feel “in the know” about what makes those neighborhoods special. They also include a lighthearted, but incredibly detailed neighborhood field guide so that guests are kept up to date on the best local dining and activities.
ARRIVE reimagines classic mid-century designs by blending cutting-edge materials and lines, with time-tested furniture and social spaces. ARRIVE promotes a social atmosphere with a lively, ambitious F&B program featuring multiple restaurants, cafes, or bars at each property. But far from creating more generic “hotel restaurants,” these establishments succeed at becoming local hotspots. For example, at the Palm Springs property, both the ice cream and coffee shop are open to the street, in order to be more inviting to locals. As Chris Pardo explains, “They create a social atmosphere. It makes the hotel more ingrained in the community.”
ARRIVE believes that service should be warm, proactive, and unpretentious: Hotels are designed with the bar doubling as the front desk, so that staff can skip the administrative “check-in script” and interact with guests on a friendlier, often first-name basis. Humor also plays a big role in ARRIVE’s brand aesthetic and guest service philosophy. Matt explains, “We like to add funny touches throughout our properties, whether it’s cheeky pencils in the room, oddball robes, a quirky sign in the hallway, or an absurd text message. We aim to make people laugh and, in that way, feel comfortable.”
Although ARRIVE rooms boast a “blazing fast WiFi,” their real innovation lies in how they facilitate interactions between guests and staff. At ARRIVE Hotels, guests interact with the front desk and concierge via a mobile text messaging platform, which allows staff to quickly accommodate special requests and relay arrival and check-in information. The messaging platform is integrated to their CRM, which allows them to track and act on guest preferences in real time.
As Matt explains, “The integration with our text messaging platform allows us to know exactly who we’re talking to, what their preferences are, and how we can anticipate their needs.” Want to order room service, get some fresh towels, or ask a question about the neighborhood? Shoot them a text and you’ll get a prompt reply. This strategy allowed the brand to do away with the dated landline phones so ubiquitous in traditional hotels. Of course, ARRIVE’s guests don’t mind, since they prefer to communicate almost entirely with their smartphones anyway. In fact, ARRIVE hotels have professional texters on-staff, trained to communicate responsively with guests, and matching the guests’ level of formality, meeting emojis with emojis and cordiality with cordiality.
“Do I send an emoji thumb’s up, or a suddenly stodgy-seeming thank you?”
It’s normal for hoteliers to take negative feedback from guests seriously, but how effectively these issues are resolved is often determined by how efficiently the systems to address these issues are designed. At ARRIVE, negative reviews, for example, are escalated all the way to the top. ARRIVE also uses their CRM’s suite of tools to engage guests via email before their stay. And for guest requests, ARRIVE takes advantage of internal messaging tools so guest requests can be quickly identified, escalated, and addressed across the company, or across locations if necessary.
ARRIVE also uses a mobile PMS that lets its staff members manage the entire hotel from a tablet, and interact with guests wherever they happen to be. “Many of our staff members come from non-traditional hospitality backgrounds,” Matt explained, “So our PMSs intuitive and aesthetically pleasing UI was crucial in reducing training time, and more importantly, keeping staff focused on serving the guest and not navigating through the PMS.”
Of course, even negative feedback can be a golden opportunity to enhance the guest experience: “We see recovery as an immensely important opportunity to provide exceptional service,” says Matt. “When a negative review comes through our GSS, it is automatically forwarded to our Chief Operating Officer, who – depending on its severity – will personally call the affected guest. We have found this hands-on approach increases the odds of a successful recovery and, in some cases, creates significant brand loyalty.”
The workflow has been incredibly successful at boosting guest satisfaction: In one instance, a guest was having trouble connecting his iPad to his room’s smart-TV. Instead of contacting the front desk through a traditional land-line phone, the guest was invited to use their mobile phone to “text us if you need anything.” When he did, the initial response was immediate, and the time between follow-up texts was less than most telephone hold times–and without the annoying music. When the staffer at the other end of the text found a workaround, the guest was relieved–and didn’t quite know how to express their gratitude: “Do I send an emoji thumb’s up, or a suddenly stodgy-seeming ‘thank you’?
When a hotel uses tech to realize its philosophy, carried through from guest experience, to team operations, to the design of the spaces themselves, it offers a true blueprint for how the next generation of hoteliers can operate. ARRIVE Hotels has done just that, using mobile communications to implement a guest experience centered on local, low-key luxury. In doing so, they’ve the stage for how guest experience, and hospitality in general should be in the next decade and beyond.
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.