Globetrender speaks with Jason Rieff, chief marketing officer for Generator, a company that transformed the hostel experience but no longer wants to identify with it. Even though properties still have dorms, Generator is “more than a hostel”, and has entered the boutique hotel space. Here, Rieff talks about the importance of brand collaborations, mindset not age, and why ‘cool’ can command higher prices even among budget brands.
How is Generator disrupting the hotel industry?
I like to think that Generator is ‘anti-generic’. At Generator, we are a guest-led and research-based company. We listen to our guests and adapt on a daily basis to meet their needs. Luckily, we have the support from the top to make innovative changes quickly.
In what ways is Generator innovative?
From SBTV to Birchbox, partnerships are incredibly important to us. Everything from the music we play in our public spaces to the brands we collaborate with in our bars is strategically chosen because we know it’s what our guests want.
A Generator guest is unapologetic about who they are and we embrace that attitude. Our guests care about experiences and we will continue to be adaptable as a brand to ensure that we can cater to this mindset. We do not follow a template. At Generator, we listen and react to what our guests are actively looking to experience.
Describe a typical Generator guest
If you go to a Generator property any morning of the week, you’ll a wide cross-section of people, from a man in a suit to a grandmother on an adventure. It’s a place that everyone can be themselves.
Regardless of what segment they fall into, all of our guests have a similar mindset. That’s what makes Generator cool. We are also seeing a rise in solo travellers – particularly female solo travellers – as Generator provides the perfect environment to meet other guests.
What is the price point of stays/rooms?
Depending on the city and what’s happening there at the time, prices can differ massively. Beds can go for as little as €15 in some of our European properties, whereas the luxury suites in our Miami property can go for a lot more during major events like Art Basel.
How is Generator different from conventional hostels?
Generator is shifting away from being put in the “hostel” box to being a lifestyle brand that appeals to all segments.
We absolutely have a hostel vibe but at the same time, we have luxury suites and fantastic private rooms.
Each one of our properties is defined by what the guest brings to it. We are the backdrop to their experience. We provide the setting but the magic happens when different kinds of people with the same mindset come together and connect in our spaces.
How many properties do you have in your portfolio?
We have 14 properties in cities such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Miami and Rome. Later this year, we’re opening a Generator in Washington DC.
What can other companies learn from what you are doing?
Know your customer and listen to your research. We know what music our guests like and what they share on Instagram but we don’t believe in traditional demographics.
Personally, I think a lot of companies make the mistake of only looking at guests through a demographic lens. For me, when you shift from defining demographics to understanding mindsets, that is when a brand goes from good to great.
What are your plans for growth?
Now, people are actively seeking out Generator when they are visiting cities around the world and that’s awesome. Brand partnerships are incredibly important as we look to keep our cool factor.
Generator has a lot to offer the right brands and with two to three million stays per year, we have the ability to create very unique collaborations with our partners.
The more we raise the cool factor of the brand, the higher we can raise the rate. In today’s world, consumers are willing to pay a premium for an experience, not just a bed.
We will continue to drive demand through collaborations with brands, influencers and celebrities.