5 Questions for Phil Cordell, Hilton Global Category Head, Hilton Lifestyle Brands & Global Brand Head, Canopy by Hilton

May 17, 2021

This week, Hilton’s Lifestyle Brands announced more than 10 new global property signings across both Motto by Hilton and Tempo by Hilton, two of the latest brands in the expanding Lifestyle category. 

Here, Phil Cordell, global category head, Hilton Lifestyle Brands, shares his insights on the lifestyle sector, provides details on Hilton’s three lifestyle brands and explains how he connects with local communities when traveling. Cordell has more than three decades of travel industry experience, launching iconic Hilton brands such as Hampton, Home2 Suites and Tru. He now oversees the strategic growth and development of Hilton’s Lifestyle category, which includes Canopy by Hilton, Motto by Hilton, and Tempo by Hilton. 

Can you give us some history on the lifestyle concept and explain Hilton’s take on the category?

PC: When it started, lifestyle hotels represented more of the “cool kid’s club.” They had dramatic lighting, loud music and were considered by many people to be unapproachable. At Hilton, we wanted to make lifestyle approachable but still aspirational, design-driven and culturally relevant. Our target audience doesn’t want a cookie-cutter approach. They want a great vibe and an authentic experience. So, we created properties that are comfortable yet also have that unique “Instagrammable” factor. 

How is staying at a Hilton lifestyle hotel different than a traditional hotel experience?

PC: Certain hotels have a very distinct feel. It’s as if everything came from a catalog. The furniture is almost overly curated and matching, and the space is very segmented. At our lifestyle hotels, there is a managed inconsistency. There’s a sense of familiarity, but there’s also a sense of novelty.

We use this idea of 60-30-10. Sixty percent of the experience delivers enough familiarity that a customer will feel comfortable. The next 30% makes someone think, “That’s more than I expected.” And the final 10% is the “wow” factor. For example, a craft cocktail from the bar would be slightly different than what you would expect, but not so unusual that you don’t want to try it.

At our lifestyle hotels, guests can expect somebody at the front desk who’s plugged into the local neighborhood, who knows the fun spaces to check out and can be a resource throughout the stay. The hotels are intimate and approachable and have public spaces that invite you in. You can be casual and comfortable, yet still feel a bit pampered. 

Can you describe the different brand personalities of Motto, Tempo, and Canopy?

PC: Motto is targeted to the urban explorer and for those who want to be in the city center. The rooms have a smaller, more efficient footprint, yet also provide flexible layouts and the ability to connect up to nine rooms for larger group travel. Our hotels provide a launchpad to the local scene, not the tourist attractions. Motto is for someone who is more cost-conscious yet wants to enjoy quality, locally driven food and drinks. It’s designed to be a community hub in the heart of up-and-coming urban areas.

Tempo targets a bit of a broader guest demographic, providing an elevated yet approachable experience that meets both professional and personal travel needs. You’ll find more consistency here, but there will be some unique touches at each property, whether through design or food and drink offerings. Tempo hotels, which will be in suburban-urban areas, have a more contemporary design and uplifting atmosphere.

Finally, Canopy is all about experiencing a destination like a local. It’s a vibrant, boutique hotel brand for those who want to explore but also prefer a more elevated and upscale experience. Each property feels like an extension of the neighborhood, with locally inspired design elements and Team Members who are experts on the newest hot spots in town. Canopy provides a sophisticated yet comfortable reprieve.

How do you foster innovation and creative thinking among your Hilton team?

PC: I view our lifestyle space as an area where we have license to play around, test, learn and innovate. We are thoughtful and directional but not prescriptive. We give ourselves permission to try a lot of things. If you allow your team to think differently and encourage that type of thinking, cool stuff will happen.

We find inspiration everywhere. For example, one of our colleagues was walking in New York, looking down at her phone, and some guy said to her, “Do you ever take a minute to look up?” When she shared that story, it resonated with us. We thought about how to incorporate the “look up” ethos into our brands. It fit perfectly with the motivated, driven mindset of Tempo’s target audience. So, we now incorporate “look up” moments into the guest experience—whether through a unique piece of art on the ceiling or a front desk interaction where our Team Members will always look up and make eye contact with a guest. 

You’re a seasoned traveler who has spent most of your adult life at far-flung locations. What’s your personal travel style like?

PC: There are a few travel habits I’ve acquired over the years. For one, unless it’s an extremely long trip, I never check a bag. I also reuse the plastic dry cleaner bags, layering them in to keep my packed clothes from getting wrinkled. On a more meaningful level, on every trip I take, I do at least one thing that connects me to the local community. It could be going across the street to a new local coffee place or visiting a cool little donut shop that just opened. It makes every trip a learning experience and a bit of an adventure.

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About Tempo by Hilton

Tempo by Hilton is a new approachable lifestyle hotel brand dedicated to exceeding the expectations of the ambitious, modern traveler. Pioneering a new hospitality category, Tempo by Hilton offers accommodations thoughtfully designed to help guests relax and recharge, including an open lobby concept with dedicated spaces to relax, work and dine, as well as premium culinary options co-developed with the award-winning Blau + Associates, including the brand’s signature coffee & tea fuel bar, casual breakfast Cafe and inviting bar experience. Created to serve a rising class of highly discerning guests committed to personal growth and development, Tempo by Hilton amenities include well-being offerings curated by Thrive Global, state-of-the-art fitness facilities and programs, flexible meeting and working spaces and more. For more information, please visit TempobyHilton.com.

About Hilton

Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising more than 6,500 properties and more than one million rooms, in 119 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on the 2020 World’s Best Workplaces list, and was named the 2020 Global Industry Leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. In 2020, Hilton CleanStay was introduced, bringing an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection to hotels worldwide. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the more than 115 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy. With the free Hilton Honors mobile app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

About Canopy by Hilton

Hilton’s first lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton, is a place in the neighborhood to relax and recharge, offering simple guest-directed service, comfortable spaces and thoughtfully local choices. Each hotel is designed as a natural extension of its neighborhood and delivers a fresh approach to hospitality and the guest experience. There are 28 Canopy properties open around the globe and more than 30 under development across 16 countries and territories. Experience a positive stay at Canopy by booking at canopybyhilton.com or through the Hilton Honors mobile app. Learn more about the brand at newsroom.hilton.com/canopybyhilton, and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

About Motto by Hilton

Motto by Hilton is an urban, lifestyle hotel brand with nearly 15 properties under development in prime urban locations globally. Motto by Hilton caters to travelers looking for value and one-of-a-kind experiences by bringing together the best elements of a lifestyle hotel – efficient guest rooms, activated social spaces, centrally located urban destinations and locally inspired design and food and beverage. At its core, Motto delivers a flexible and innovative hospitality experience through elements like first-of-its-kind linking rooms for group travel, and vibrant communal spaces with access to check in and a coffee house and bar for work and social use by guests and locals alike. Motto is part of the award-winning Hilton Honors guest loyalty program. Visit newsroom.hilton.com/motto for more information and connect with Motto on Facebook and Instagram.

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