Schrager’s hip anti-hip

Schrager?s hip anti-hip

I love Ian Schrager’s bravado. He just named his new brand, PUBLIC, and says “it may well represent the revitalization of the hotel concept itself and another worldwide wakeup call for the entire industry.” That type of PR is going to get him a lot of press and attention, as always. If nothing else, Ian is a master marketer. By simply stating that he is becoming anti-hip, Schrager makes himself more hip and relevant once again.

I know PUBLIC will be creative and interesting, but I don’t think he can reinvent the wheel — again. In fact, I think the industry has been on the path of reinventing itself over the past 10 years. When you look at legacy brands like Hilton and Sheraton and see what they are doing to become more relevant, whatever Ian is creating cannot be all that revolutionary — even if he does refer to the new breed of lifestyle hotels as boring and lacking soul.

What hoteliers do to deliver exceptional service is going to remain a big differentiator and build loyalty – even among the Millenials and Gen Y. Anyone can talk about it and try to do it, but it just isn’t that easy to execute on and maintain over the long haul. Finding the right people, as always, remains more important than anything you can deliver with design or bells and whistles. Put your money where your people are, and you have a fighting chance to truly deliver what everyone seems to promise.

I love talking to Ian as he is always provocative, a great quote and has certainly made a difference in the hotel business over the past 20 years. He says PUBLIC will be “confident, self-assured, genuine and free of tricks and gimmicks.” His press release says he is now “anti-design and anti-flash, suspicious of the ‘wow factor’ and completely ‘sick of slick.’”

Now age 64 and eligible for his AARP card, I understand Ian is maturing beyond the “slick” years and wants to deliver something more sophisticated, sincere and accessible. I like the concept, the details he has presented and the aesthetic it seems to represent. But he has made his mark with design, flash and slick. Can he do the same without it? Maybe. What do you think?