Sincerely, BLLA

Turning Creativity into Profit

Boutique hotel leader, Brian de Lowe, mentors the community As part of the Investment Track of BLLA’s Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit and the “As...

Boutique hotel leader, Brian de Lowe, mentors the community

As part of the Investment Track of BLLA’s Boutique Lifestyle Digital Summit and the “Ask me Anything” Mentorship Circle series, attendees had the exclusive opportunity to hear from President and Co-Founder of Proper Hospitality: Brian De Lowe. Brian took attendees behind the scenes of launching a new hotel brand during a pandemic and revealed his personal outlook on how the remainder of the pandemic will unfold for boutique hotels.

         Brian de Lowe and his eventual partners at Proper worked together for 17 years before leaving that lifestyle luxury hotel brand to start their own. After having already grown a company throughout that time, they were uniquely positioned to bring their own vision to life. Brian described their mindset going into the new project, “Now we have to start over from scratch in the new world. And I think looking 20 years ago vs today or even a few years ago, the world of boutique hotels has changed and it’s not just about design anymore. So we really focused on all the other elements, you know F&B, and programming, and experiences… Proper’s been a huge success.” Brian took a moment to acknowledge his teammates attending his session and affirmed them as “all just incredible people with amazing backgrounds, and to be able to lure them from their companies, is a real testament for the Proper brand.”

         In terms of the inspiration behind the Hotel June, Brian explained how the Proper Hospitality team discovered a section of the market they were failing to hit. They became determined to reach second-tier markets and less obvious locations within first tier markets into order to offer the best of Proper but at a more affordable price point: “for the consumer of the same ethos as proper, but focused on a less expensive, more accessible offering.” Brian shared that a key to this was asking the question, “how do we take the best of Proper, keep it, strip away what maybe isn’t necessary for the $200 a night customer?” After cutting down build cost, room size, quantity of amenity spaces, and shifting the service model, Brian shared one critical element that remains: “we kept the team working on it which I think is really important – it’s not like here’s the Proper team and here’s these other people at Hotel June, it’s one team so you’re getting the magic of Proper from Hotel June.”

Hotel June in Los Angeles, California, United States

         Brian’s mentorship also came in the form of uplifting forecasts for the industry. Brian described a shift since the start of the pandemic: “People are starting to kind of step out of the home and I think when people take one trip and they realize you know you can stay at a hotel and have a great experience and it feels really safe and clean and everything else, you’re not going to go home and sit on your butt for the next six months, you’re going to go out there and take another trip. I think we may see the leisure markets start to really pick up in a way post summer that we’ve never seen before.” Even in terms of corporate business travel, Brian spoke whether working from home will last: “but I think we’re seeing kind of the rest of the business world realize what kind of impact that has on our community – hotels and restaurants and people that clean office buildings and the little corner sandwich shop, it just goes on and on. I think a lot of business leaders are saying let’s get back to work to the extent we can make it safe.” Brian emphasized, “I think more and more that customers want what boutique hotels offer – they don’t want the cookie cutter hotel, they want something that’s more lifestyle. [The business traveler] may be coming and visiting the city to work, but they’re not working the entire time. When they’re not working they want their hotel to have great F&B, interesting programming, they want to meet people that excite them in the lobby.”

Proper Hotel in Santa Monica, California, United States

Brian truly made his mentorship session special with the way he not only passionately shared about only his business, but also graciously shared his moment with his team. The heart they collectively pour into Proper, Avalon, the Ingleside Inn, and now Hotel June was apparent to everyone in the room. This mentor left attendees with much to be inspired by and much to look forward to. Here’s to Brian, to his team, and to the bright future ahead of boutique hotels!

Proper Hotel in San Francisco, California, United States

Article written by Alicia Bernal of BLLA

BLLA members can watch the full session in the BLLA Collective member portal here

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