A charrette is a collaborative workshop that brings different stakeholders together and is a major part of our branding process. Relevant especially for real estate projects ranging from multifamily to hotels to commercial development, a charrette often includes developers, architects, interior designers, landscape architects, engineers, property/general managers, investors/partners, and the branding/marketing team.
This discovery and visioning session sets the stage for what the development will become and could last a few hours to several days. When the marketing team is brought in early, we can participate in and even help guide the conversations so the brand’s direction is clear from the start.
For niche hotels or boutique hotels that strive for a unique and authentic brand, the charrette process is extremely valuable, allowing all participants to brainstorm ideas about the new hotel. The hotel charrette often covers these topics:
Architecture + Design
Depending on how far the hotel planning is before the charrette, typically, some work has been done on the site map, blueprints, and even renderings of the hotel – particularly if it went through the rezoning process. The architect and interior design team present their work done up until this point, as well as mood boards and inspiration images of what the design of the new hotel will be like for the rest of the team to respond to and provide feedback on.
Understanding who the hotel’s target market is and how to reach them is a major part of a hotel charrette. Hotel developers bring in the market research they have done – looking at gaps in existing hotel offerings, vacancy rates, price points, anticipated new development, etc. Through the charrette, we talk through who we envision as the ideal guest: What is their age and income? Are they a single person traveling on business, a couple taking a romantic vacation, or a family visiting a new city? Is it important to them that the hotel is pet-friendly or eco-friendly? Do they expect the finest finishes or prefer something more comfortable? How can this hotel optimize service for their guests – is it through high-touch, personal connections, or a convenient mobile app? From this we can create a target market persona or “brand muse.”
For a boutique hotel that opened in the Carolinas, we helped establish a brand muse –that all the branding and copywriting should speak to. For them, it was “Angeline,” a sophisticated, and affluent urban entrepreneur in her late 30s, newly married, dog mom and social butterfly. Throughout our engagement, from planning the grand opening events, choosing which influencers to partner with and identifying top media outlets, we always considered, “Would this appeal to our muse?” It was always a point of consideration for us, the general manager and corporate team. If it didn’t fit with our muse, then we didn’t move forward with it.
Brand Personality + Themes
The hotel charrette allows the full team to identify its top personality traits and themes, which should be represented in all aspects of the brand, from the architecture to the logo design to the copywriting to the amenities. At the beginning of the charrette, some of these traits might be unclear – is this hotel modern and sleek or classically elegant? Is it loud and unexpected or subtle and cool? What inspiration imagery represents the hotel’s brand – from architectural style to interior design to activations?
But through the process of sharing top traits, looking through inspiration imagery, and discussing the style and aesthetics of the new hotel, the brand becomes clear. By the end of the charrette, stakeholders vote on the top three brand personality traits that will carry through all aspects of the brand.
This process also helps shape the hotel’s brand story – what makes it unique from other hotels? What about its history, its location, its design, and its amenities that will draw someone in to choose this hotel above all others?
Amenities + Programming
“Memory points” – customized amenities, programs, or touch points that make the hotel memorable – are also often developed during a hotel charrette. These are also extremely valuable for future PR opportunities. Rather than the hotel offering all the standard offerings, does it feature a signature free cocktail in the lobby for guests, a pillow menu, authentic local artwork, VIP branded pedicabs to take guests to the beach, or host manatees on the property? What partnerships should the hotel have with local museums, restaurants, entertainers, and wellness gurus? Some of the ideas that come up may feel too extreme or costly, but the hotel charrette process generates hundreds of ideas and allows the most significant and feasible ones to rise to the surface.
By participating in the hotel charrette process, niche hotel developers cultivate a very clear direction and brand that resonates with the target audience. Following the charrette, all stakeholders – architects, interior designers, landscape architects, graphic designers, copywriters, general managers, etc. – are all able to move forward to help the hotel brand come to life.
Interested in having YDM host a charrette for your new hotel? Reach out to us!