In a market crowded by established hotel chains, the unenviable task of brand-building for new independent hotel brands often falls to creating a differentiation in their offerings.
Chao Hotel’s location at a much-coveted address in Sanlintun, Beijing, places the three-year-old brand in close proximity to properties such as Kempinski and Intercontinental.
William Latour, managing director, saw a gap in the market when he set out to establish the hotel’s event business. Instead of mainstream corporate and brand events, Latour sought out events that are more niche, especially those related to the creative industry, feeling that these would fit well with the hotel’s ethos and facilities.
For example, the hotel houses a 3,000 sqm art centre, as well as a movie hall, besides 15,000 sqm of clubhouse space. The property, renovated from the former City Hotel and designed by Berlin-based firm gmp Architekten, looks chic with its avant garde designs. “The design of our hotel and events spaces appeal to architecture firms and movie studios who can hold their workshops there,” said Latour. “What is important is that we have the facilities that suit their needs. It doesn’t matter whether they use it or not when they book with us,” he added.
At the same time, the hotel’s unique design draws a different type of audience—smartphone touting KOLs who are always eager to document their lives on social media. Soon, the venue started hosting fashion events for brands under the Kering Group, as well as Chinese high-street brand Peacebird, among others.
Latour said the hotel has grown into a niche venue for trendy and arts-based events, which is very much in line with his earlier strategy. An in-house creative team works on events production at the venues. “We do want to be niche, even though it’s not very good to tell clients that we want to be niche,” said Latour.
Beijing's vibrant arts scene, Latour said, provides opportunities for the hotel to fill its events calendar. "A lot of people think that Shanghai is the trendy city, but there is also a lot going on in Beijing," said Latour. It is a case of win-win situation, since the hotel also offers organised tours to the 798 Art District in the city. The arts centre in the hotel regularly host arts workshop during the weekend as part of its community outreach.