//HOME HOTEL, BUENOS AIRES
This boutique hotel has built their entire guest experience around their name
6 min read | BY NICK BONNEY
You can’t really call yourself ‘Home Hotel’, and be anything but homely. But how far does a brand concept and a name have to go into how the entire guest experience is delivered? We were keen to find out.
We recently spent a few nights in the culturally diverse Buenos Aires as guests of the very beautiful Home Hotel. During this time something special happened. We were made to feel at home not just in the hotel, but in the entire city. How? By providing us with not just local information, but seriously good insider tips and tricks.
Home Hotel is the brainchild of UK record producer Tom Rixton and Argentine PR director Patricia O´Shea. The idea conceptualized when they married in December 2002, as they were scouting hotels for all their friends and relatives coming from Europe for their wedding. They soon realised that there was a lack of accommodation options that would meet the aesthetic sensibilities and expectations of their guests not only in Palermo, their favourite area, but in Buenos Aires as a whole.
Having lived in Ireland for nearly 16 years, Patricia was itching to come home to Buenos Aires, so they both decided to create "Home". The right location was found in Palermo Hollywood, with construction starting in March 2003. Home finally opened in December 2005.
Patricia is our first No Vacancy partner in Argentina which has given us the opportunity to discover what’s worked and hasn’t worked on their journey.
How much focus do you place on guest experience as part of your business model?
The guest experience is at the heart of Home. Not only the experience of the hotel, but the experience as a whole, of the surrounding neighbourhood and the city. The hotel is a part of their experience, as the hotel is only part of the experience of visiting Buenos Aires. We want our guests to enjoy their stay in its context, the city we love. For this, our concierge service is key. We need to know what’s going on, what’s new and what’s out, hidden gems that guests won´t find in guides / blogs. A real insider´s knowledge. And direct contact to the most sought after restaurants and bars so we can get tables for our guests when very few can!
We "read" the guest and tailor make our suggestions, tips and insight to match their taste, expectations and preferences. We can tell them where to get the best street Choripan (chorizo sausage sandwich with is Argentina´s main street food) or the best gourmet experience.
At No Vacancy we believe an exceptional guest experience is one of the most important things an accommodation business can focus on. However, a lot of independently run hoteliers will say they have no time for this. They are far too busy on the day-to-day operations and believe 'guest experience' and creativity (design, branding etc) in a business is just 'airy-fairy' and a waste of time. How would you respond to this?
Absolutely the opposite! Why would a guest stay at your hotel, instead of the one down the road or an Airbnb? With the incredible amount of options available to the travelers today how do you stand out otherwise? If you don´t have time for his, then you are in the wrong business! Today´s traveler is looking for a place that meet their aesthetic sensibilities, that inspires them, where they can memorable experiences. Travel is very emotional, it is about making memories, so the hotel is part of that.
How important is a brand-focus for you to deliver a consistent experience that stands out from your competitors?
A brand is a personality. From our name, our look, our feel is part of our brand, it communicates what we are about and what kind of experience they can expect (and hopefully we can throw a few surprises at them!). But of course, you must deliver what you communicate!
Can you give me any examples of where a more creative approach to your business has delivered results?
Through our website, our Instagram, and all communication we want to get our personality across, creativity, friendliness, slightly cheeky, approachable personality are things we try to convey with all our photography. We don´t use models, but real people ( friends and family are on our website), we want people to imagine themselves as guests. In Instagram, most of the photographs are from guest´s feeds, it´s their story, their experience that we are showing.
Where did the vision for the brand come from? Who is in charge and who oversees the creative direction of the brand and brings it all to life? You clearly appreciate and understand good design and branding but what does this really mean to Home?
From my personal story. For me to come back to Argentina from living in Ireland for 16 years, was in a way coming home. With my husband Tom, we created the hotel very much with our friends in mind, a place for likeminded people. The look, feel and design is very much what we like. We did not have an interior designer, every piece of furniture, every colour and every material was chosen by us. Currently my husband is the creative side, visually and musically, and I concentrate also in constantly improving guest experience and service. It is very much a team effort.
I’m particularly interested in the role a brand plays on the guest experience - before they arrive, their stay, and after they leave. How it informs the tone of voice, the feeling, the story and connection with the guest. What makes it authentic and not just a carbon copy of a trend. Can you tell us a little bit about what this means to you?
Experience is everything to us. But the word ‘experience’ is becoming very cliché now. It’s overused. The essence of the concept is what matters to us. It’s looking at the bigger picture and not getting caught up in the day-to-day operational side of running an accommodation business.
Hotels are opening all the time. If you don’t position yourself to your strengths and keep up with this fast paced industry you will be left behind very quickly. We are constantly updating and reinventing ourselves so we don’t become outdated. One thing hoteliers are very scared of is being dated. People change, our guests change what they like and what they don’t like, so we are constantly looking for new ideas and ways to improve our experience.
When it comes to marketing, what has worked best for you?
We mainly use Facebook for domestic Argentines guests. We find Facebook a great way to market the restaurant in the metropolitan area. However, we find Facebook quite time intensive based on the hotel bookings it delivers us. I understand targeting is extremely important and we do some audience segmenting but we could do more to see better result. However, most hoteliers don’t know what they are doing when it comes to effective Facebook marketing – and this includes us.
As our primary guest target market is international market (35% European, 45% Americans and the rest broke up across the world), we find Instagram to be the most effective channel when it comes to attracting overnight bookings.
Any final advice, tips or tricks for other hoteliers (or travel businesses) you’d be willing to share?
Passion, vision and a small dose of unhealthy obsession is what´s needed to survive in this very competitive business. If you don´t have a least 2 of these, your are in the wrong business!