Trend Whisperer, A blog by Sherri Scheck-Merrill
This week’s trend report was inspired one year ago and to this day, still strikes a chord. Here’s how it began…..
THE GOOD NEWS: Ikea announced plans to open a budget hotel chain via a collaboration with Marriott International and would brand it: The Moxy?! It’s important to note that more often than not, anyone who walks the Ikea maze of showrooms will more than likely experience the desire to depart the premises with the exact set-up displayed in one of their vignettes. And this is the very reason why the news put me into an instant state of intrigue.
THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS: I learned the partnership would cleverly target a youthful and frugal clientele which aligns so perfectly with Ikea’s philosophy of “high-end appearances on a low-end budget,” however, it would not, (and I repeat “not”), include guestroom furnishings from Ikea.That’s right. Guests would not be sleeping on a simple Sultan (Ikea-speak for mattress), nor would they be snoring into a Gosa pillow or watching TV while rocking in a Poang chair. Utter confusion at least for moi.
Maybe it’s the business I’m in to pair consumer desired brands with chains? And recently, it seems nearly everyone – and I mean “everyone” – wants to get into the hotel business to grace guests with names, labels, brands or products they are known for.Some local. Some national. And every now and then, some world renown, as is the case with Ikea’s brand recognition.
As a major supporter of corporate collaborations, I am sold on the belief the right pairing can supercharge innovation. Brand partnerships can also breed new life, reinvent and energize a property or space as well as the overall perception a customer or guest carries about you.
Several of the world’s most successful companies have benefited from joint projects which is why I am forever thankful for H&M opening the mainstream doors of teaming up big names. H&M gained huge sales by leveraging two brands which brought together a mass market with incredibly high-end designers while both the retailer and designer reached a wider consumer base bringing massive value to each other. And let’s not forget the Isaac Mizrahi and Target partnership-gangbuster hit from over a decade ago (2002 to be exact), which made the once unaffordable designer name available to the rest of us and is why collaborations have always worked wonders on many fronts and for many reasons.
Other collaborations haven’t been as obvious but still powerful in their own respected world’s. In the beverage industry, Coca Cola created a winner with their special edition bottles graphically designed with tributes to Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gautier. Evian water and French designer Courreges partnered water and fashion with a tasteful collaboration Evian scored very well with because it subliminally transformed the feeling of “luxury” to their brand.
Heineken even partnered with a Japanese denim brand, Neighborhood, and released an exclusive, innovative pair of jeans which cleverly featured Heineken green cross-stitching and green leather label.
In the Hotel industry, collaborations with fashion designers such as Christian Lacroix, Betsey Johnson and Badgley Mischka,to create signature rooms and suites, has now become an ongoing industry trend which doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Several world-renowned brands such as a champagne house, a diamond jeweler and even a few car manufacturers, have hopped into bed with hotel partnerships. Missoni lent it’s trademark zigzag pattern to the poolside cabanas at the Four Seasons Maui as well as select walls, furniture and even a chandelier. Luxury beauty brand Guerlain-sponsored spas can be found at Waldorf Astoria hotels while the landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong partnered with Marc Jacobs to offer an exclusive high tea inspired by the designer’s Lindy bag color, print and texture. The Trump SoHo partnered with Random House to provide pre-loaded Kindle devices for use in its properties. Even philanthropy can be driven through the right partnership, which was the case when The Peninsula Hotels lit up their exteriors in pink and added a Pink High Tea including the sale of pink ribbons to participate in Breast Cancer awareness.
In my own backyard, the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica teamed with BMW to conduct complimentary test rides in a BMW 6 or 7 series for up to 6 hours. Ironically, the hotel also offers complimentary BMW beach-cruisers bikes. And for those desiring to book the Shearwater Suite at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, complimentary access to the resort’s fleet of Lexus vehicles is offered.
I am certain there are those who believe collaborations are tired but no matter why or how collaborations originate, one thing is for certain: Most are born out of mutual admiration which allows each entity to seek new audiences. And even though I personally felt disappointment and still believe Ikea and Marriott have missed the mark by not factoring in a few of Ikea’s legendary staples into the collaboration, I am confident there are many more press-worthy partnerships slated for Hospitality and Retailers in the future.
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Sherri Scheck-Merrill is a hospitality industry professional with a passion for excellent hotels and resorts. She is passionate about hotels, interior design, fashion, and beauty. As Vice President of Amenity Services Inc., she focuses on hotel business development and guestroom product design. She distinguishes herself by researching, teaching and reporting U.S. trends for her own fashion and export business.
She is a three-time nominee for Businesswoman of the Year by California’s Orange County Business Journal. A UNLV student-athlete/Harvard Executive Education Consumer Marketing graduate, she licenses popular retail brands for hotel guestrooms.
After spending several years on a tennis court, followed by the role of head buyer at the largest West Coast-based sporting goods and fashion apparel export company, her knack for predicting trends landed her a columnist position at Orange Coast Magazine. She is also the author of the biannual trend-forecasting report for a major retailer in Osaka, Japan, and writes a popular blog about trends for Hotels – the magazine of the worldwide hotel industry.