The idea for Yotel came into being when founder, Simone Woodroffe, was upgraded to first class on a British Airways Flight. The compact luxury of first class became the inspiration for a budget hotel brand that prides itself on affordability while retaining luxurious amenities like the monsoon shower and free Wi-Fi.

In 2011 Yotel opened its first non-airport based hotel. The Times Square edition of the Yotel brand offers some valuable inspiration for customer experience leaders faced with the challenge of delivering greater value at a lesser price.

Look outside your industry

Yotel uses aircraft designers instead of the more traditional choice of interior designers. In an interview last year, Yotel CEO Gerard Greene summarized the logic behind this choice saying, “The interior designer will take a room and choose furniture. We approach it as the whole thing as a piece of furniture.” This approach allows Yotel to build all the usual hotel amenities in a significantly smaller, and far more cost-effective, space.

Apply this idea:

  • Pick up a trade publication for an industry completely unlike yours
  • Talk to a family member whose job you know very little about and pick their brains about trends in their industry

Automate with caution

Tech savvy travelers love the kiosk check-ins offered at Yotels. The New York City Yotel took this automation one step further with a robotic arm that stores your bags in designated spaces. Unfortunately, the technology is still a bit iffy. A colleague shared the story of a recent Yotel experience involving a painfully long line for the electronic bellhop and frequent alarms. There’s a lesson here on knowing how and when to automate. Just like grocery stores offering self-checkout often keep people close by for the inevitable system failures, so should Yotel, and other innovation leaders, remember to keep people close at hand until the technology glitches have been worked out.

Apply this idea:

  • Say “yes” to more ideas, but try testing them first in low-cost ways
  • Make it a point to regularly walk through your customer facing processes – call your customer service line, find something on your website, or try to buy something from your own company

Surprise your customers

The New York Yotel opened its doors about three years ago which, in a city that moves as quickly as New York, means it’s already old news. For a brand that prides itself on a novel approach, this is a dangerous spot to be in. To combat this Yotel just announced a partnership with Surprise Industries, a company that crafts memorable experiences, to design mysterious events only accessible to Yotel customers. The adventures offer a new way to explore everything that New York City has to offer in a way that aligns with the novel approach of Yotel.

Apply this idea:

  • Use your customer journey map to identify areas where you could insert a little magic
  • Identify your long-time clients or customers that are quietly loyal and create something special just for them