Cloud7 Hotels CEO Marloes Knippenberg said the company’s target guest wants a unique and non-traditional travel experience in up-and-coming markets.
ISTANBUL—According to Marloes Knippenberg, today’s travelers do not want to stay in hotel chains where eggs will be prepared the same way regardless of where they are in the world.
“Now guests are asking ‘Where can I get food poisoning?’” said Knippenberg, CEO of hotel-management firm Cloud7 Hotels, which opened its first property on 23 February in Istanbul.
Knippenberg, along with brand director Antony Doucet, said the idea of Cloud7 was to focus on this growing and adventurous clientele that is looking for affordable accommodations and “that no longer will put up with the idea that in the midscale segment you cannot have a meaningful experience.”
The company’s debut hotel, named the Ataköy Marina Istanbul, has 46 rooms, but Cloud7’s key counts will vary across its chosen locations.
Knippenberg said the company’s rollout of about 15 hotels will be swift, with properties opening mostly in countries in the Middle East and Turkey within the next two years. The main investment partner in Cloud7 is Dublin-based Kerten Capital.
Cloud7 includes Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Tehran, Iran; Doha, Qatar; Tbilisi, Georgia; Muscat, Oman; and Prague as its pipeline cities. Knippenberg said that these are several of the company’s target locations that are underserved or not served at all by chain hotels and where development sites might be harder to find.
“We will be in the locations that you want to explore,” Knippenberg said.
Although a young company, Cloud7 already emphasizes a local connection. Its website features biographies of neighborhood entrepreneurs and their businesses, pieces from local artists adorn the hotel walls, and the company actively promotes local events and restaurant listings. Knippenberg said these initiatives “are among the simplest of things” a hotel can do to make an impact in its community.
“We will have small teams of specialists at each hotel, with the emphasis being on bringing locals and their passion into the property,” Knippenberg said.
“This is a brand that will immediately connect guests with locals,” Doucet said, who added that property social spaces will all be designed to further interaction.
Knippenberg gained her chain-hotel experience during a decade spent with Hilton Worldwide Holdings, most recently as director of business development at the Conrad Dubai. She also spent two years working with and researching halal pasta sauces in the Middle East.
Doucet has had a varied career as a chef, banqueting manager and sales manager in Hyatt Hotels Corporation’s Park Hyatt brand. He most recently worked as director of sales, marketing and communication at small chain The House Hotel, which has five properties in Turkey.
It is a combination of that eclectic knowledge and more business-honed revenue-yield experience that Doucet and Knippenberg hope will propel their startup. Knippenberg said joint ventures “from partners with the same vision” might fuel the company’s expansion.
“We know what our goals are, but we also know we will not change the world overnight,” she said.