INTRODUCTION TO MARKETING Question: Identify TWO target segments for the NOBU brand and briefly describe each using the relevant concepts covered in this course Traveling in Nobu Style: Converting Restaurant Patrons to Hotel Guests The name “Nobu” is synonymous with an exceptional Japanese dining experience, perfected by chef Nobu Matsuhisa over a more than 30-year career. Matsuhisa, together with actor Robert De Niro and restaurateur Drew Nieporent, opened the first Nobu restaurant in 1994 and to date, there are now 38 Nobu restaurants worldwide. But if you talk to Trevor Horwell, the CEO of Nobu Hospitality, Nobu represents much more than just a restaurant experience. It’s a true lifestyle brand that also encompasses a relatively small, but growing portfolio of luxury hotels, too — eight of which are open now, and eight more are in the pipeline. Horwell’s primary focus as CEO is to continue to grow the Nobu Hotels brand and as he opens up diners’ eyes to the fact that cannot only eat at a Nobu but stay at one, too, he hasn’t forgotten the brand’s origins in the process. “We don’t normally do a hotel unless we think that a Nobu Restaurant can do well in that location,” said Horwell. “That’s very important because what we want to do first and foremost is to make sure there is a draw for locals, and that really comes down to the Nobu Restaurant.” Horwell said the majority of his Nobu hotel restaurant diners — 80 percent on average — are local residents, not hotel guests. “It’s not like a tourist restaurant. We like to attract the locals. We want that built-in customer.” “We are defined by the restaurant, in a way,” he said. “We play to our strengths. If you look at the hotel business today, the majority of hotels are suffering because they don’t lead with food and beverage. don’t have strong food-and-beverage concepts, and a lot of hotels are losing money. Today, we play to our strengths because that is one area that we do very, very well, and we bring in locals.” The idea to launch Nobu Hotels, he said, came from the fact that when Nobu Restaurants were located inside of a hotel, they “were the draw for the hotel and we were bringing in customers.” “If I only convert 5 percent of my customers in Nobu Restaurant to stay in our hotels, then at the end of the day, we’re filling out hotels. It’s not a tall order to do that, and you can do that very well and very quickly if you offer the right product.” Nobu Hotels has the advantage of having built its brand over a 24-year period with its restaurants first, followed by the first Nobu hotel that opened within Caesars Palace Las Vegas in 2013. “The first focus for us, really, is to expose the brand to our restaurant customers,” Horwell said. “We touch all types of Nobu customers. And we also provide instant identity. If you put ‘Nobu Hotel’ on a hotel, the word ‘Nobu’ says something and it attracts a certain type of customer.” Horwell said that, for example, when the first Nobu opened, the hotel had “more than one billion media impressions.” So, what’s next for the brand, and how does Horwell plan to grow Nobu Hotels? He explained, “We’re not driven by reservations systems because we’re small. It isn’t as if we need a huge reservations system to fill a 400-room hotel. That’s why a lot of these corporations do well, because they have the reservations platform to fill the big hotels.” Nobu Hotels, by comparison, average anywhere from 100 to 150 rooms generally. “The reason why those young lifestyle brands have emerged is because they’re like us. They are entrepreneurial, they’re unique because it’s a concept that’s come from the heart, from whoever is the original founder. But when it’s absorbed by a corporation, the whole thing changes. At the end of the day, the specialness is lost because then the corporation’s running it, and then, I think you lose what your original concept was all about. I think that’s the biggest issue.” Horwell also doesn’t necessarily think of Nobu Hotels as occupying a place in luxury hospitality, instead referring to the brand as “special.” “I look at our hotels not as luxury,” he said. “I look at them as special. I like us to be special, in each location we’re in. ‘Luxury’ is a word that’s used too much in terms of ‘everything is luxury today.’ For us, we’re ‘special.'” “That’s why I’m saying, from a company perspective, we’re very entrepreneurial. Today’s evolving luxury traveler is seeking “youthfulness” no matter what age they are, and they are “very curious and very adventurous. Because of that, it’s important for hospitality brands, Nobu included, to not just say they’re unique but to really offer unique experiences. He pointed to Nobu Ryokan Malibu in California as an example. The 16-room retreat overlooks the beach and is right by the ocean, and right next door to the Nobu Restaurant in Malibu. It becomes a destination, and that’s something Nobu wants to offer. It’s also a different concept from what the other Nobu Hotels have. While Nobu Hotels are places where there’s an emphasis on bringing in the locals, the Ryokans are meant to be more private. “The Ryokan is actually a place where people don’t want to necessarily be seen,” Horwell explained. “It’s a hideaway, a retreat. You can only book through a general manager and it’s a special place.” He added, “We will do more Ryokans, definitely, in locations that we think is right.” A major focus for Nobu Hotels is to grow the company and the brand with the right talent and partners, as well as make sure that the Nobu Hotels brand is reaching the right consumers. “The most important thing, from our perspective, is to build a relationship with our existing customers,” he said. “It’s about, first and foremost, on digital, working our databases. We like to do that through email, through a lot of channels. We just brought on a new head of digital. Capturing data is very, very important now, and that’s something that is a main focus and her team.” “I think the main thing for us is the customer relationship management (CRM) because you can do so much with it,” he said. “You can know your customer. It’s one part of the business that we are heavily focused in in and we can extract a lot of information from that.” In addition to beefing up its customer relationship management system, Nobu is also testing out a loyalty partnership, of sorts. The Nobu London Shoreditch joined Design Hotels last year, giving the property access to distribution on Design Hotels’ site, as well as a connection to the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program. Three Nobu hotels are also members of Leading Hotels of the World. “A lot of our customers aren’t driven by points,” he said. “When I travel, I don’t go for points. I want to stay in a hotel where I enjoy the staff, the food and beverage, the products — all of that — and I will pay a premium for it.” Appendix A Additional Information about NOBU Nobu Hotels "A Place to go and be seen" By “wrapping” the concept of a luxurious boutique hotel around energized public spaces, Nobu Hotels creates powerful stages for shared experiences of excitement and escapism. Featuring the best of everything with imaginative new restaurants, high- energy bars, relaxing rejuvenation, distinctive service, remarkable retail and an air of celebrity, Nobu Hotels will afford guests and privileged owners the most exclusive entry into unparalleled experiences that lay at the crossroads of innovation and imagination. Source: Excerpted from ‘Nobu Hotels CEO on a Restaurant-First Approach to Hospitality’ by D. Ting. Skift – March 22, 2018. +Experts and image from Nobu restaurant and hotel website.
The two target groups for the Nobu hotel.
(i) Afluent travellers who want to experience good things in life and are open to a variety of hospitality experiences. They love to travel across the globe in search of such unique culinary and rejuvenation experience with impeccable service and are ready to pay the premium. They are connoeissuers and know how to appreciate and enjoy good things. This customer segment is global in nature and can be attracted by branding the experience as a unique and out of the world.
(ii) The second customer segment is local customers which include families, social groups and individuals wishing to have a relaxing and comforting culinary and rejuvenation experience, that is different from the run of the mill upper class restaurants and hotels, during weekends or day to day life.
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