Is Hospitality the Future of Retail?



On Monday, October 23rd, the FACC hosted a dynamic panel discussion that brought together complementary view points from innovators in retail strategy and hospitality management. Contributing to the discussion were panelists Savinien Caracostea, Partner and Co-Founder of Informal Retail at Tetatet, Fabrice Nadjari, Parter at Tetatet, Aaron Duncan, Chief Marketing Officer at the sak, Markus Schreyer, VP Americas at Design Hotels and Naheima Sears, retail executive and innovation specialist. 

In New York City, the once emblematic epicenter of American and International luxury brands, Madison Avenue, is only one example of the turbulence in the sector. Skyrocketing rents, increased competition from e-commerce, Direct-to-Consumer brands, and evolving expectations from diverse generations of consumers (Millennials, Gen Z) are all contiributing factors for the exodus on the avenue. Retailers and brands are being forced to question their identities and the authenticity of the experiences they are creating. Instagrammable moments are no longer enough to make a lasting impression in the market place, as our panelists argued, fostering a true sense of community and santuary will distinguish a brand and help attract and retain customers. 

Retail has much to learn from the hospitality industry who is taking the lead in catering to niche experiences and wowing their customers. Design Hotels' , represented by panelist Markus Schreyer, boasts a portfolio of member properties that transform the hotel from a place offering accommodations into one that creates platforms for shared experiences among people united by passions, ideas, and inspirations. For example, currently highlighted on their homepage, a blog entry beckons voyagers to "travel like Camus" and touts the benefits of escaping to a far-flung destination to refresh your body and spirit. Camus viewed travel as a way to break down barriers of language and community, to united people and step out of one's comfort zone. 

In today's age, the consumer experience needs to be questioned. Moderator Fabrice Nadjari closed with a word about implementing technology, just for the sake of implementing technology. Many retailers are experimenting with virtual reality and augmented reality, but before doing so, it's important for retailers to question if an augmented experience truly aligns with their goals, brand identity and the desires of the consumer. 


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