Home furnishings retailer West Elm, which is part of the Williams-Sonoma portfolio of brands, is making a bold move into the travel and hospitality industry with the launch of West Elm HOTELS. On the heels of 26 consecutive quarters of double-digit comparative growth, West Elm officials are confident of the trust and brand loyalty they receive from customers.

Through a partnership with hospitality management and development company DDK, the first West Elm properties are slated to be located in Detroit, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Savannah, GA; Charlotte, N.C.; and Indianapolis, IN. They are set to open in late 2018.

Each West Elm hotel will feature local design elements that celebrate community and reflect traditional décor, handicraft, cuisine, and culture from the region. Artwork will be commissioned and curated locally for each guest room as well as for the communal, common areas in each hotel.

Based in Brooklyn, N.Y. since 2002, West Elm operates 93 retail stores in the U.S., Australia, Canada, and the U.K., ships internationally to customers around the world, and operates stores in Mexico, the Middle East, and Philippines through unaffiliated franchisees. In addition to home furnishings retail, West Elm operates West Elm Workspace in the commercial furnishings industry.

Carrie McIlveen, U.S. Director of Marketing, Metia offered her assessment of West Elm’s foray into the hospitality industry to Loyalty360.

“West Elm has identified an innovative way to support local business, drive brand awareness, market their furnishings, and provide a unique hospitality experience for their loyal customers,” she explained. “I recall a similar cutting edge move Starwood made when it came out with the Heavenly Bed; which seems to work quite well for them. West Elm is taking it a step further. Guests will be able to enjoy the West Elm lifestyle in person prior to purchase. They can touch, feel, and live with the locally crafted pieces – delivering an exclusive emotional connection and engagement for their brand advocates and potential buyers.”

West Elm HOTELS will revolve around three key tenets:

Wholehearted hospitality: Great service, personalized attention, regional knowledge and community connections will help guests feel like a local and at home.

Distinctive, thoughtful design: Each property will have its own design point of view, from the exterior architecture to custom installations, such as locally crafted art and bespoke furnishings.

Community connection: Communal spaces and one-of-a-kind experiences will bring guests and neighbors together in a relaxed, collective setting.

Chirpify CEO Chris Teso believes this presents both an opportunity and challenge for West Elm.

“The marriage of retail and hospitality presents both an opportunity and challenge in how West Elm interacts with and retains its loyal customers,” Teso told Loyalty360. “Taking the long view, focused on ongoing customer experience and satisfaction, rather than campaign-focused interactions, is the right approach as West Elm looks to leverage its brand strength. I would recommend that West Elm takes advantage of the user-generated content this new endeavor will create, encouraging sharing of it in social media channels, as fostered by an evergreen social loyalty approach that awards consumers for doing so. This will help create early social advocates for West Elm Hotels, while facilitating value in the relationship as West Elm moves loyal customers from a familiar format to a new one.”

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