Concord Hospitality Enterprises has refined its Opus Collection of boutique hotels, restaurants and experiences over the past two years, and finally the collection is in its thematic sweet spot, according to Kevin McAteer, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and sales.
Concord’s Opus Collection launched in February 2019 with the opening of The Oaklander in Pittsburgh, but the company didn’t land on the right communication and theme to describe the collection of boutique hotels and culinary experiences until March 2021, McAteer said.
The company chose the name Opus Collection because “Opus by definition is a collection of unique artistic work very much like a symphony of movements that come together on a large scale,” he said.
Hotel owner, developer and manager Concord Hospitality has been honing operation models to deliver unique experiences at its boutique hotels, and now it has “tailored marketing necessary to promote it” under Opus, he said.
The goal of the collection was to make Concord’s assets in the upper-upscale boutique space stand out, McAteer said.
The company currently has three hotels open in the collection with a fourth in the works, and McAteer said the company wanted to be on the management and development side of these properties.
All in, Opus Collection has 19 assets represented between restaurants, bars and hotels, he said.
Given Concord’s expertise in hotel development, the majority of hotels in the collection are new construction, but the company is open to looking at converting an existing building to a hotel or an existing branded hotel into an independent if it makes sense, he said.
A hotel in the collection must have an “individually crafted story pulled through design” that associates can bring to life, McAteer said.
The elements of that story must be in place before “the first line is ever drawn on a set of blueprints,” Matt McClelland, executive vice president of operations at Concord, said in an email interview.
He said engaging with experienced branding agencies “to sit alongside the design team throughout is vital.”
“The knitting of the story throughout the design phase delivers a powerful, long-lasting experience to our customers. Branding will echo throughout every aspect of the hotel, from media campaigns to menus to the colors in the carpet to the uniforms we select. It is everywhere,” he added.
Concord has to be involved in every decision made for each property under the Opus Collection, which requires “working alongside the branding agency to answer questions quickly,” McClelland said.
“Nothing is figured out until you make a selection and decision. Scent, lighting, music, media, soap, linen programs, uniforms, onboarding videos, etc.,” he said. “You will decide on all of it, and it takes an abundant amount of time and as we all know time is very precious. There is great risk and responsibility that comes with creative freedom. Choose wisely.”
Boutique Operating Model
Because of the focus on experiences and being unique, Concord’s boutique hotels operate a little differently than branded hotels, and each property’s individual needs are considered, McClelland said.
“No hotel is the same. For example, some may need on-site social media or an on-site reservation specialist, where others can have that managed through a centrally based effort,” he said. “In the Opus Collection, each hotel operating model is different and requires a full study of the specific needs of each hotel. By never accepting a set model like a brand would require, we assure we are structured for success at each unique location.”
Unique Recruitment Strategy
The “blueprint for staff” is critical for the operations of boutique hotels in the Opus Collection, McAteer said.
The company has a robust training program in place to make sure every team member is in sync and that the vision of each hotel is executed, he said.
McClelland added that there’s a very focused recruitment effort for each property in the collection, which requires “assuring the personality of the property is clearly explained and embraced.”
“That, backed up with a profound and consistent overall company culture, means associates are excited to be a part of something extraordinary; that is what The Opus Collection is all about,” he said. “In short, if you want to be ordinary, you won’t fit with the unique.”
People are unique and want to know they are part of something unique and special, he said.
“We have found that embracing that uniqueness drives our staffing and retention success,” McClelland added.