I’ve had a busy week – World Travel Market and the HBAA Technology Forum in the space of five days has left me exhausted – but I did get to try something I’ve had my eye on for a long time – I stayed the Yotel way. Although really designed for people flying off into the sunset and needing somewhere to rest at the airport, I decided that rather than commute backwards and forwards to WTM, I’d give the cabin style hotel room experience a try – something Yotel is becoming famous for.
Yotel has been described in the press as a revolutionary new hotel concept, and to be honest, no other hotel chain have a similar brand to run against them. Starting out in New York, Yotel are expanding and have properties at London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick, Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and two hotels back in New York.
Inspired by first-class airline cabins and located inside the airport terminal, Yotel has been built around a strong brand concept – a business or leisure traveller wants to stay somewhere that’s flexible and not over the top. Everything about the cabins are high spec – great quality beds, shower and amenities all within small cabin style rooms. The perfect place to rest your head and re-charge before or between flights or for unexpected travel disruption.
Yotel founder Simon Woodroffe conceived the innovative Yotel cabins to provide a flexible and convenient ‘first class’ hotel experience at affordable prices. Simon evolved that idea into reality with Gerard Greene, the CEO of Yotel, building a prototype cabin with designers Priestman Goodeand and securing partner IFA Hotels and Resorts.
Before I stayed, I’d read the marketing on the brand and didn’t know what to fully expect. Having stayed in other “cabin” style rooms recently, I expected the same from Yotel, but there is no product on the market quite like this. The design of the rooms is quite something – compact – but yet without the feeling of being trapped or penned in.
Each cabin has everything you could wish for – comfortable beds, en suite bathrooms with monsoon rain showers complete with organic hair and body wash, flat screen TV and pull out workstation (and of course, free Wi-Fi). I’m told even the mattresses are organic!
What I especially like about the Yotel concept is that the founders have solved a common travel problem. They’ve looked at how people travel through airports and identified a gap in the market. People often want somewhere comfortable to rest in an airport, and creating the high quality Yotel brand allows people to book a cabin for a short amount of time, or a whole night. It’s a flexible model that caters for all, and unlike so many other newer hotel brands, actually stands out from the crowd and solves a travellers existing problem.
I should also take a moment to comment on the service. Check-in can be processed in person or by self service computer on arrival, but all staff that I met during my stay were polite, friendly and incredibly helpful. They created a lasting impression of the brand for me. I also found it encouraging that in each room there is a business card urging guests to leave a review of the hotel on TripAdvisor. When you think about it, a cabin style room could be the perfect thing to moan about online, but Yotel are so clear and confident about their brand and customer expectations, they do the right thing and encourage engagement and reviews. More hotel chains could learn from this approach.
Prices for a Standard cabin will range from £25 for four hours and from around £50 overnight, while a Premium cabin will cost from £40 for four hours, and from around £80 overnight. If you would like to find out more or book, please click here to visit the Yotel website.
What I think will be interesting is how quickly the brand can expand. Clearly, the same consumer need exists at every international airport all over the world, so there is at least in theory a place for a Yotel in hundreds of locations. Will we see them pop up at every airport we pass through in the future? Yotel is already a very successful brand and becoming more and more recognised by the public. They have achieved this success by clearly defining their brand strategy, playing on it, and keeping it simple. And not as a cramped, grotty cabin, but as a a high quality, 4 star place to stay that’s good value and enjoyable. I would imagine that their cost of sale is pretty low – booking via the brand.com website only (which is a rally great, interactive and informative online experience) and without the use of third parties (I’ve not seen their content appear on OTA websites yet, or the GDS, but I may be wrong). Keeping to this model is pretty simple, but as the collection of hotels expands, so too may the distribution channels needed to make sure all the rooms get filled.