Southampton hosts a world first this week, with the launch of the mould breaking “hometel.”
Combining the best bits of a traditional hotel and the comforts, convenience and routine of living at home, new brand room2 is offering the “hometel” concept, which is set to change the face of the hospitality industry.
As the PR agency charged with getting the message out to the media, together with the city region’s key movers and shakers, it’s been fascinating being on the inside and seeing how the brand developed over the past six months.
room2 founder and managing director Robert Godwin explains: “We’re looking to fill a huge gap in the market where people want a much more flexible approach to staying away and not losing the good routines they enjoy at home.”
Guest comfort and convenience are a priority so guests can check-in online and then access their room from their smart phone with no keys needed. Keyless mobile access will be available to guests and this, combined with 24-hour check-in and self check-in kiosks, which will be available later this summer, enable guests much greater flexibility in their arrival.
“It all boils down to reputation”
What I find really interesting though is that Southampton was chosen as the launch city for this revolutionary concept. And I guess it all boils down to reputation. On the UK stage, Southampton has an image of being progressive and receptive to new ideas. As someone who has lived and breathed the city for more than 30 years, I get a real sense that my adopted city is starting to gain real momentum.
The long awaited Culture Quarter is up and running; WestQuay has just been listed in the top 20 of the country’s shopping and entertainment centres; as a thriving port and northern Europe’s cruise capital we are blessed all year round with the visual impact of gargantuans of the sea; we boast a world class university … and Southampton FC has retained Premiership status – not to be under estimated from a profile perspective.
In fact it was Saints which brought me south in 1981 for a job in television. At the start of my TV career I was given a choice of working in either Southampton or Maidstone. A young guy coming from the frozen north, I’d heard of Southampton simply because of the football team. Maidstone just wasn’t on my radar.
Seizing opportunities today
And so it is today. One of the important factors which persuaded Lloyds Register to move headquarters and its 400 jobs to Southampton was the city’s cultural offering. Mayflower Theatre, the UK’s third biggest theatre by capacity which is celebrating its 90th anniversary with a £6m refurbishment programme, was specifically named in dispatches.
The task for the city now is to grab the good things with both hands and, through a well thought out PR strategy, propel Southampton to the next level. A positive and dynamic city image will attract even more investment, more jobs and more prosperity and so the virtuous circle becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I smiled last week as I had a meeting at room2 and had a brief tour of the new hometel to view the finishing touches. It was the night that the legendary Rolling Stones played St Mary’s Stadium, a terrific coup in itself. A world-first for the city and the best rock and roll band in the world playing just half a mile away. The atmosphere was electric, the city was buzzing and it brought home to me the fact that all those years ago Southampton hadn’t been a bad choice after all.
- Lee Peck