NEW YORK—While there has been a lot of talk about hotel brands that serve up-and-coming travelers, Niki Leondakis said there isn’t a lot of product on the market just yet.
That’s why the timing is right, she said, for Commune Hotels & Resorts to launch a value-conscious brand.
“We think the time is right for the youthful traveler to have something developed specifically for their needs,” Leondakis, CEO of the company told HotelNewsNow.com.
Commune Hotels & Resorts—the result of a 2010 merge between Joie de Vivre Hospitality and Thompson Hotels—launched on Wednesday a brand called Tommie Hotels, which will be geared toward globetrotting millennials.
There are two Tommie locations in New York already under development, and both are slated to open in early 2015. Cube Capital, KSNY, Eagle Point Hotel Partners and Simon Development are developing the 250-room location in Manhattan, and Cube Capital and Eagle Point Hotel Partners are developing the 329-room West SoHo location.
Launching in New York gives the brand the best visibility to Commune to roll out globally, Leondakis said.
“We happened into two great projects where developers are very interested,” she said. “Occupancies in New York are at very high levels historically.”
Instead of traditional hotel meeting space, Tommie hotels will feature “crash pads,” meeting spaces that serve as incubators for productive minds, and casual communal dining experiences. The public lounges, called Reading Rooms, will promote gathering and socializing with games and curated programming.
Commune used some analytical research to determine the target consumer but mostly relied on word of mouth from travelers, Leondakis said.
“There’s certainly psychographic research on millennials, and that information is readily available,” she said. “In addition to that, we used our own experience as hoteliers. If you really are listening to what customers are telling you, you see what they really want.
“The employees are a great source of feedback as well,” she said.
Leondakis said designs for the Tommie brand are well underway, with firm layouts and programming right down to the positioning of the bed.
“There has been a lot of study around making the rooms space efficient, ergonomically smart and comfortable—in real space, not just in theory,” she said.
The price point for room rates at the first two projects will be around $250 per night, which Leondakis said is “a value” for New York.
Tommie’s Big Apple debut will be followed by locations in Asia and Europe, she said.
“I have wanted to do (global) development for some time,” said Leondakis, formerly with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant Group. “I’m a personal global traveler, from Europe to Asia, anywhere and everywhere. It has been one of my deep passions so it’s a very exciting time.”
She said the Commune brand has loyal guests from its existing customer base, including Thompson hotels in both Canada and Europe. Over the next few years the company will launch a loyalty program that will connect Joie de Vivre, Thompson Hotels and Tommie Hotels, Leondakis said.
Technology will play an important role in the new brand.
“We do think it’s important because youthfully minded travelers grew up with technology,” she said. “So there is a certain expectation that whatever they have at home or the office, it needs to be better quality in their hotels. This will be a very tech-savvy experience, but we don’t want to compromise the customer interaction.”
Commune recently hired Mike Blake from Hyatt Hotels Corporation as their chief information officer.
The company operates approximately 60 hotels, 33 of which came from the Joie de Vivre Hospitality collection and 12 from the Thompson Hotels collection. Since the merger, Commune has announced acquisition and management of the 5 Beekman Street in New York, Chicago’s historic Chicago Athletic Association, Thompson Chicago (formerly Sutton Place Hotel), the Miami Roosevelt and the Epiphany in Palo Alto, California.
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