In the latest episode of the Vietnam Innovators podcast, Pong Boripat Louichareon, the Managing Director of Standard Hotels International, discussed the innovative strategies and unique approach that have propelled the Standard brand to new heights in the global hospitality industry. With a background in consulting and a knack for adapting to different industries, Pong shared his journey from consulting with BCG (The Boston Consulting Group) to his pivotal role at Standard Hotels International.
Pong recalled his initial exposure to the Standard brand during his time in New York back in 2012, where he frequented the famous Standard Highline venues, Le Bain and Bumbu. Flash forward to 2017, and he found himself working with Standard Hotels when Sansiri acquired the brand.
This marked a turning point as Pong moved into the role of Managing Director, overseeing the company’s expansion and transformation into a global lifestyle brand. Pong’s experience with the brand came full circle, eventually leading him back to Asia to spearhead the brand’s expansion in the region.
Customizing the Brand for Different Cultures
As Standard Hotels expanded globally, Pong highlighted the importance of tailoring their brand pillars to different cultures and cities. Drawing inspiration from local art, fashion, music, culinary offerings, nightlife, and design, the brand aimed to create a sense of familiarity while maintaining a unique and authentic experience.
For instance, in Bangkok, where cultural sophistication reigns, the focus was on designing an environment that resonated with the city’s worldly and global tastes. In contrast, a resort destination like Hua Hin demanded an entirely different approach, involving diverse F&B concepts and design elements harmonizing with the locale.
Crafting the Ultimate ‘Town Square’ Experience
Pong also highlighted the brand’s commitment to creating communal spaces that encourage interaction among guests. This unique perspective prompted a departure from the traditional notion of private spa experiences. Instead of isolating guests in private rooms, Standard Hotels championed communal spaces like hammams that encouraged mingling and socializing, setting the stage for an inclusive and vibrant atmosphere.
The goal was to make public spaces as welcoming and engaging as possible, aligning with the brand’s values of being an active, fun, and inclusive town square.
Navigating the Luxury Landscape
In a market cluttered with luxury hotels, Pong revealed that Standard Hotels aimed to carve a niche that blended luxury with unique design, embracing retro aesthetics and innovative materials. While not fitting a traditional star rating, the brand’s luxury was distinguished by its focus on design, public spaces, and immersive experiences that resonated with a diverse range of customers.
Pong acknowledged that the market was moving beyond the conventional star ratings, with travelers seeking authentic experiences that extended beyond the confines of the hotel room.
The Power of Content Creation
Pong also talked about the critical role of content creation in building brand loyalty. Drawing from the brand’s roots as a content-led entity, he discussed the challenges of tailoring content for different geographies while maintaining a consistent brand identity. As Standard Hotels gained global recognition, the brand sought to strike the right balance between relatable and localized content. With a renewed focus on content creation, Pong aimed to craft engaging narratives that would resonate with audiences, fostering brand loyalty and creating lasting memories for guests.
As Standard Hotels continues to redefine luxury hospitality, Pong’s insights shed light on the brand’s innovative strategies, unique approach to customization, and commitment to fostering inclusive and vibrant communal spaces. From embracing retro aesthetics to reimagining the role of luxury, Standard Hotels International’s journey is an inspiring example of evolving in the ever-changing hospitality landscape.
Watch the full episode here