The Rebel Company
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Article / Beliefs
New Beginnings
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Article / Beliefs

New Beginnings

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Five perspectives that have informed our rebrand

Writing this feels deeply personal. Never has the tone of something felt as crucial as it does now. Balancing empathy and understanding with positivity and a belief that, in the end, we'll all be ok.

As Rebel turns five, we're just getting started. A conscious decision to down tools for six weeks has afforded us an opportunity to focus on us for the first time since launching in 2015. Something we’d never thought possible before the pandemic.

We've been brave in the changes we've made, because we knew that we had to find our footing and be the best version of ourselves. Giving us a chance at success whilst creating something we can be proud of. I know I'm not alone in feeling nervous about every move we make. This is a big moment for me, for us, and for the future of our businesses. Let's make sure we get it right.

As we reveal The Rebel Company to the world, here are five perspectives on how to move on from the events of the last few months.

1. Celebrate the journey, be bold and look forward

During our summer hiatus from projects, and as we worked on our own business and brand, it was fascinating to cast our minds back to 2015. Thinking about how much has changed and how much we've learnt. Revisiting the achievements that we've been most proud of.

It's so easy to let the significance and the impact of milestones pass you by. We're all so caught up in what's in front of us and what the future holds. Now more so than ever.

Basing a future strategy on understanding what's worked in the past is crucial. But it mustn't be at the expense of an objective view of how the world has changed around us.

And whilst there is so much uncertainty, there are also things that we can depend on. Hospitality will always be the backbone of so many people's lives. It's crucial we’re all confident in what we offer and that we tell the world about it in exactly the right way.

We've been so impressed by businesses that have formed new approaches to how they operate and communicate.

Staying true to their passions and letting their personalities shine through.

Forest Road Brewery

We particularly loved this east London brewery’s response to losing 60% of their revenue overnight. When "sales of keg beer just stopped". In this video, founder

Pete Brown talks about how they turned a small van into a mobile bar. Bringing beer to their loyal fans who could no longer get their hands on the product in traditional ways. And it was so successful, they’ve just bought a second van.

"If people can't go to the kegs. Why don't we bring the kegs to the people?

Eats Thyme, Paris

Our client, at recently launched Eats Thyme in Paris, has done a stellar job of sticking to the inspiration, heart and soul of their concept. Capturing the Lebanese spirit, personality and patriotism in new and inventive ways.

They knew they could introduce Parisians to a more authentic version of the nation's cuisine. Yet it would take a patient and more creative approach as they shifted focus to bringing the product to market. At a time when the market couldn't easily come to them.

When the Beirut tragedy happened last month, they knew that the business could be a platform to raise awareness and funds for the disaster. Since then, much of their focus has been on supporting that cause.

Celebrating win-win relationships

At Rebel, we've realised that our best work has been built on win-win relationships with suppliers and partners. Working on projects that go above and beyond making money.

We're now placing a 'purpose manifesto' at the heart of each project. Giving us all something to be proud of and to underpin a strategy that's built for success. Our new brand reflects all this, whilst presenting a confident and bold approach to ensuring future wins. We really hope you like it.

2. Values and principles are the foundations of change

Uncovering and defining your organisation's purpose and using this to define a strategy is great. But this must be built on an honest appraisal of why things matter to you. As an individual, a leader, a team or across a business.

If we're aware of the positives that have defined past success, we can be more confident in the changes that we make to our businesses. Leading with principles ensures decisions are grounded in an approach unified by shared values. If things don't work out, we can accept this together and try something else. We'll always have stability in some form. Even in an ever-changing world.

Warrens On The Pass

Over the past ten years, farmers turned butchers Phillip Warren and Sons had made a name for themselves. Supplying their Cornish grass-fed meats to some of the best restaurants in the UK. Working hard to support their customers, understanding that they win when the restaurants do.

Launching Warrens On The Pass, they made a point of linking their products to the restaurants they were originally produced for. Meaning customers could order items intended for their favourite restaurants at home.

As legendary London restaurant The Ledbury announced it was permanently closing, Warrens continued their legacy by selling their bespoke products online. While short-ribs, pork shoulders and briskets intended for Shoreditch favourite Smokestak were being slow-cooked and barbecued in gardens across town.

With restaurants now open, Warrens continue to sell directly to customers. Such has been the success of the initiative.

The Conduit Club

Looking to past examples of taking a values and principle-based approach to work. Our new partner Michael worked on the development of The Conduit
in Mayfair.

The project was an excellent example of a business placing purpose at the heart of what they do. Key initiatives included a progressive approach to hiring with London based charity partners The Clink and Beyond Food Foundation. The creation of bespoke hemp-based products, alongside Margent Farm and Cambridge University (Centre for Natural Material Innovation), was part of a drive to reduce single-use plastic.

The building centred on cutting edge sustainable technology coupled with diverse, non-Europe centric art pieces. All within a members club in Mayfair, and without sacrificing any of the now-expected luxury components one would expect from this type of business.

Defining our own values and making them stick

As part of our rebrand, we revisited everything Rebel was about. Documenting our values and making them available for clients to see was a no brainer. As was sharing our Collective Commandments with the world. It's our commitment to being jointly responsible for everything we do.

Whether a freelancer, an employee, a supplier or a client. Great things happen when we welcome and support people who share our ethics and desire to use our voices and influence to make a real difference.

3. Live and work partly in the service of others

Only time will tell whether the world will go back to its old ways. But we live in hope that there will be at least an acceleration in businesses and individuals adopting a more responsible approach to what they do.

And discussed in previous posts and on the final webinar in the Two Eds Are Better Than One series, we have both an opportunity and a duty to think about the impact we have on others' lives. Never have fairness and equality mattered so much.

There are better ways of living and most of us have had a chance to refocus over previous months. Engaging in practices and habits that have the potential to change the way we interact with the world around us.

Rethink Food

It's been incredible to see how Daniel Humm and the team at Eleven Madison Park have risen to the challenge. Using their rethink food initiative to reach thousands of individuals and families living in food poverty in New York. The initiative was so successful that a recent partnership with Dominique Crenn saw the launch of the scheme on the West Coast too.

Now on our side of the pond. Daniel has launched a similar initiative with the NHS. This time at his London restaurant, Davies and Brook at Mayfair's Claridges hotel.

Genuine Community Development

Early this year we completed work on Vernon House for developer Mount Capital. We were impressed by their uber-considered approach. Both in Primrose Hill and at their Pragovka development in Prague.

It was great to see how supportive of the local communities they are. Particularly in Prague. Contributing to the continued growth of the artistic community currently living and creating within their development. Working with them rather than against them to evolve the scheme.

This is at odds with so much of the 'gentrification' we see. As communities are forced out to make way for 'progress' in the traditional sense.

The Rebel Foundation

The launch of our charitable foundation is planned for early next month. With the ongoing support of our clients and collaborators, we're excited by the prospect of continuing to change the lives of others. Giving the people we know the opportunity to do the same.

A shout out to all the clients who have contributed to our 1% match fund over the past 18 months. Your support has enabled us to get to launch and has already done so much for the young women we've been supporting in Mumbai.

4. Be your true self online

Since the beginning of lockdown, we've seen so many conflicting opinions and approaches when it comes to managing our lives online. As the world went digital, we were under pressure to do more. To say more.

With lives on hold, it seemed like social media was a release valve from the lockdown life but did it actually just increase our anxiety? We can’t help thinking that this may have just added pressure onto us as individuals. And as businesses, the misleading perspective that the way to win is through more content. This isn't the case.

We've come to believe in a less-is-more approach. Supported by being yourself and using your influence to bring a clear message. Being meaningful with everything you say and do.

An example from across the pond

New York-based friend of Rebel, Anna Polonsky has shown that the right campaigns can be hugely successful. Coming from the heart and engaging the right partners and peers at the same time. Her agency Polonsky & Friends have launched a successful US-wide initiative, Ask Chefs Anything. Whilst their apron collaboration with Bragard USA saw chefs including Thomas Keller getting behind the initiative, spurring nationwide sales with 100% of profits going to charity.

BrewDog goes from strength to strength

For the last 18 months, we've been working with the team at BrewDog to bring a consistent brand experience to the bars around the world. Handling their graphics work, menu design and signage as they've grown their estate.

Despite a well-publicised 'fight for survival' in March, the business doubled down. Staying connected with their fans whilst their bars remained closed. It’s clear that their continued success has been guaranteed by the way they've found their voice online. Their recent carbon negative commitment is admirable at a time when many businesses are unable to think long term.

Launching our digital marketing product

All this got us thinking. And we're delighted to announce that we've developed a content and digital marketing product. Created to support the strategy and design work we've loved delivering over the years. But also to support new and existing clients with identifying and connecting with their audiences online.

If you’d like to know more about how we’re helping businesses connect to their audiences online, please get in touch.

5. Embracing change and enjoying the ride

The next few months are going to define the future of hospitality. It's been upsetting to see so many casualties over the summer. No doubt there will be more.

What’s becoming clear is that our relationship with cities is likely to fundamentally change. We've been speaking to operators in neighbourhoods who are doing better than ever. Whilst our friends in hubs such as Soho continue to feel the effects of a workforce largely working from home. Of course, tourism is yet to recover in any meaningful way.

The success of the pedestrianisation of Soho to allow for al fresco dining will continue for as long as the weather permits. And the recently-launched “Take Put” campaign in Chinatown is another interesting initiative we’ll be keeping a close eye on. Jay Rayner certainly thinks it has legs.

Even a small permanent shift in the way we work is going to have a big impact on the fabric of city centre hospitality. Particularly those predicated on high footfall, daily custom and time-poor professionals.

But in the long run, opportunities abound for businesses that are positioned to take advantage of a redistribution of the professional population. Be it in cities, in the suburbs or further afield.

Is Co-living finally going to have its day?

Operators such as Bermondsey's Mason & Fifth are well placed to create professional communities in city neighbourhoods. If life 'on campus' results in a goodbye to the daily commute, there will undoubtedly be winners and losers.

Don’t forget to have a little fun

But we're confident that the industry will bounce back in one way or another. We're an enterprising bunch and it's been reassuring to see some irreverence as we continue to embrace collaborations. Both inside and outside of the industry.

We've loved the fun being had by Gizzie Erksine and Professor Green of late. As they continue to take their Giz and Green's "Monday Night Fakeaway" idea to new heights. Copyright and trademark infringement potential aside, it's nice to see this light-heartedness in times of great hardship.

In good company

For us, the next few months are about staying focused, positive and as relaxed as we can. Embracing the ability to work from anywhere and continuing our collaborative approach with partners around the world. To this end, a departure from 'agency' in favour of 'company' seemed like an apt way to solidify this approach. Because whatever we do, we're determined to be great to work with. And a good company in every sense of the word.

Ed and Donkey
Article / Beliefs
Work From Home Is Dead. Long Live Work From Anywhere
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Article / Beliefs

Work From Home Is Dead. Long Live Work From Anywhere

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5 Things We’ve Always Done To Facilitate A Better Relationship With Work.

(Note - Donkeys are optional)

Before lockdown, my girlfriend and I popped down to our regular country bolthole. My housemate's garage conversion in the New Forest. We then decided to sit it out in the rural ideal, rather than come back to London. It was a tough decision at the time. But looking back, it's one of the best things we've ever done.

The internet was ablaze with panic and talk of a "fundamental shift" in ways of working. But for us at Rebel, it was an easy transition. Because it's exactly how we've been working for years. And I now know more than ever, that we’re on the right track.

In the spirit of transparency and in the hope that this may be of benefit to companies struggling with going remote. Here are five things we've always done. Things which have helped us achieve results whilst almost never being in the same room.

Long may work from anywhere continue!

1. Let culture lead the way

Someone once said that "culture eats strategy for breakfast". The best-laid plans fall apart when imposed on people. Those who subsequently act begrudgingly when under duress. Good culture creates willingness, openness and results.

What we do is guided by the principals of an established brand. Even if we're a young, small business. Here are a few excerpts from our brand manual.

2. Select specific tools to separate competing business functions and allow for collaboration

We're constantly looking for ways to be more efficient and to deliver better work. Always in consultation with those who are going to be involved in the various processes.

I've always hated email. It's a miscellany of others' priorities. Vital to external conversations? Of course. But the best way to communicate with colleagues? Absolutely not.

There are tools out there to make life better. We separate specific areas of the business by deploying different tools to manage them. This ensures that time scheduled to be spent on a particular task is done so without distraction. That nothing else gets in the way. And don't get me started on WhatsApp.

We’ve tried pretty much everything out there. And these are our current favourite tools for remote, collaborative and results-focused working. Helping to focus on what’s important, not whats fun, exciting or shouting the loudest. (No bribes were paid in the writing of this list)

Slack - The almost ubiquitous internal messaging app for agencies and creatives, Slack allows you to manage your own engagement and working hours. Mark yourself away when you don’t want to be disturbed and your colleagues will only push through urgent messages (or give you a nudge on WhatsApp)

Asana - Project and task management. With added gantt functionality it’s the perfect tool for managing complex projects with multiple stakeholders. It’s also great for to-do lists, meeting agendas and for one-on-one team catch-ups.

Pipedrive - A new addition to our world, Pipedrive handles our CRM and automates most of our new business process, making scheduling and keeping connected personal and easy. And most importantly, brings all relevant new business email and calendar functions into one place, away from all the other distracting clutter in your inbox.

Loom - Allows you to record your screen with audio commentary and added personality through a video thumbnail. Brilliant for sharing presentations, feedback and work where a little elaboration is needed

Miro - A brilliant tool for live, remote collaboration with partners and clients. Miro facilitates brainstorms, white-boarding sessions, flow and process charts, and anything else visual that you’d also do when sat in a room together (Tip - use Apple Sidecar and Google Hangouts to make things even more personal over two screens).

3. Routine will set you free

At first, this sounds like an oxymoron. But I take great comfort in having a specific time set aside each day, week and month for certain tasks.

An example. The first Tuesday of each month is for bookkeeping and general administration. And our accounts process is perfectly honed to allow me to park the majority of both until this day each month. Each Friday morning is marketing. Oh, and no meetings on a Monday because that's a day to get shit done.

The first hour of the day is set aside for consuming interesting content, checking emails and clearing down slack. I then check in again on the latter two after lunch and at the end of the day.

By carving out time for administrative, procedural tasks throughout the month, I find myself able to focus on the important stuff. Doing great work for clients. And finding great clients to do work for.

I've found this structure vital. And every time I slip back into my old, less organised ways, everyone ends up losing out.

4. Chill the f&@k out

There are only two types of problems. Those you can do something about. And those you can't.

I always ask myself where stress comes from if a) you can control and change a given situation or b) the situation is out of your hands. Of course, this is overly simplistic and a degree of stress comes with what we all do.

But in spite of this, we must all work hard to maintain a perspective and relax a little. As leaders, we have can have a powerful impact on those around us. This can be overwhelmingly positive, or oppressively negative. And I know which kind of leader I'd rather be.

5. Let your people go surfing

Yves Chouinard, founder of Patagonia thinks this is so important, he wrote a book about it.

The importance of being flexible about when and where people work is central to this legendary brand's success. If the surf is great on a Tuesday, get out there. Because a culture that blends freedom with responsibility means that your wave-riding employee will, of course, spend Saturday catching up.

Article / Beliefs
A Letter From Me, To You
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A Letter From Me, To You

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Do We Even Do Long Reads Any More?

Thanks for joining me.

As the founder of a small business that works closely with other SMEs, I wanted to share a little more information that will hopefully be insightful and useful to anyone who finds themselves a little ‘rabbit it the headlights’ right now. Because I can assure you, you’re not alone.

Time On Our Hands.

The shut down of the industry we live for and love could never have been predicted. We do what we do because we really like people. We like getting a bunch of good folk together, looking after them, cooking brilliant food and serving delicious drinks. We love understanding how to add value to those our businesses serve; seeking out their wants and needs, and constantly finding new ways to engage, excite and keep people coming back.

But we also like innovating. We like big ideas, bravely but sensibly evolving, reacting to the rapid pace of change and the constantly moving goalposts. It’s why we do what we do. We live with many balls in the air, fighting for diary space and wishing we just had a few more hours in the day to make those improvements, drive through change, and be louder and more visible in the way we market our businesses.

Whilst we’ve got no customers to take care of, once we’ve battened down the hatches and gotten our ducks in a row, now is the perfect time to be stepping back, looking under every stone and in every corner, to work out how we can come back fighting when this nightmare is over and we can resume doing the very things we set our businesses up to do - surprise, delight and make people happy.

So much is out of our control right now. And there are only two types of problems after all - ones we can do nothing about, and ones we can. So what can we do about the latter? Place the thought, focus and attention there.

Here are five things that every business needs to be looking at right now, if you’re going to come back quickly, stronger and more focused on the other side of this.

1. Going Digital

I saw this image on my LinkedIn feed and it couldn’t be closer to the truth. In the thick of looking after our clients, our own marketing strategy was ad-hoc at best. And at times non-existent. And I make no apologies for that. It’s tough doing what we do, and I know that many of our clients and friends within all areas of hospitality will agree. But it’s no longer acceptable to make excuses.

I’ve always fallen in to the trap of looking enviously at our competitors’ and peers’ digital marketing efforts and at their content and falling at the first hurdle, because getting to where they are seems almost impossible. But this month, I think I’ve finally realised that this is just about getting started. And it’s amazing what happens when you do.

A huge shout out to John Vincent, LEON’s founder and CEO, not only for the ongoing brilliance of everything that LEON does, but on his recent book Winning Not Fighting, co-written with Wing Tsun master Julian Hitch.

This book warrants a post of its own, but the relevant thing for me here is the notion that “Mastery is something to be practiced every day, not a goal in the distant future” (John, I’m sorry. I’ve probably bastardised that, but I hope it makes the point).

This has helped me to totally reframe my approach to so many thing, our digital marketing efforts being key.

So, expect more content from us. Hopefully successful, sometimes not, but always experimental. It comes from the heart and we’ll always be doing our best. Something about the cobbler being unable to fix his own shoes comes to mind.

Everyone should be focusing on digital right now, and what this means for keeping their businesses alive and thriving online, so you’re front of mind when the revival of our industry happens and we can grab the opportunity with both hands. Read up, watch, listen and learn. Spend a little money if you can, to get a strategic plan in place. And then just get going. It’s a brilliant time to be doing so!

A great place to start is this webinar from Mark Ritson and Marketing Weekly. I think it’s probably the most valuable thing I’ve watched since lockdown. It provides some incredible insight in to how the next months are going to play out and how you can market to succeed. Do have a watch.

2. Learning From Lockdown

After the initial panic I felt at the beginning of March, it’s been brilliant to take a step back and look at work and life, how the two integrate and how forced distancing, spending more time alone, and working remotely has made such a giant difference to so many things. I’ve been keeping a list on my phone and here’s where I’m currently at.

Seeking out the positives has been, well, really positive. It’s been vital for me to reflect and to take some decisive action where necessary to get life and work into a place from which growth can happen. Personally and professionally.

Taking these and making them the basis for conversations with the team and for decisions moving forward is going to sustain a real change in my relationships with family, friends, colleagues and clients both immediately and in to the future. And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

3. Revisiting Everything You Thought You Knew About Your Brand

We recently connected with an agency called Leidar, after meeting their UK managing partner Madelyn Postman at two events on the trot at The Museum of Brands in Notting Hill and a One Percent For The Planet meet-up at The Conduit Club. Leidar is the viking word for the North Star and their mission is to help brands find theirs. A guiding light and a continued point to refocus on as businesses and their teams navigate a rapidly-changing world. And quite frankly, we think it’s a lovely sentiment.

More than ever, brands need to stand for something above simply creating employment and making money. This slide from a recent Accenture report sums this up perfectly.

The question therefore, is how you engage your audience and your teams in looking for, finding, and pursuing your purpose; leading with a clear mission, a fully defined DNA and a simple message that keeps everyone pointing in the same direction?

We already know that the world is moving towards more conscious living and more conscious consumerism, so rethink your narrative, tell your story and focus on how your business can be best placed to lead during this continued shift towards genuine purpose-led brand engagement; standing out from the crowd and coming back from the current challenges with a fresh focus and fresh enthusiasm for all that’s brilliant about your business and how it can find it’s place in a more sustainable world.

4. Team Engagement After Lockdown

Without a doubt, the hospitality sector and those working within it are going to feel the affects of this current period for months, even years to come. When the world reopens for business, consumers are going to be bombarded with brand communications and marketing like never before.

The winners from this will be those who not only manage to stand out from the crowd in the public domain, but those who have re-engaged, motivated and generally prioritised their teams. Revisiting your brand means revisiting how this leads to team engagement in your purpose, your product and your guest experience both online and offline.

A considered and unique Employee Value Proposition is a great place to start, when defining what working for your business feels like and ensuring that it’s a great place to work and one that facilitates excellence in everything you and your teams do.

We firmly buy in to the definition “A Brand Is What People Say About You When You’re Not In The Room” (thanks Jeff Bezos) and the most important rooms to think about are your changing or dining rooms, when your teams are together and away from the eyes and ears of leaders.

This video from Blessing White Consultancy is one of the finest examples of how leaders need to inspire teams, set a clear strategy, and drive genuine engagement across all levels and departments.

5. This Could Be Our Chance to Change The World

Fans of HBO’s Silicon Valley will know that this is a familiar story. Every start-up launches with a mission statement which includes a wholly insincere commitment to saving/changing the world or making the world a better place.

But, and I imagine you’re clear on where I’m going with this, we do have an opportunity, right now, to be looking carefully at our business’ place on this planet, the impact we’re having on the environment around us, and on our immediate and global communities.

Refocus on this during the coming weeks and months, interrogate every aspect of your business, look back through your supply chain and forward to the life and usability of your products and packaging. Resisting the temptation to give little more than lip service to your business or brands’ impact means passing on the opportunity of a lifetime to fundamentally address imbalance, excess and often lazy practices that are unnecessary, damaging and irresponsible.

We can use businesses as a force for change, leading in this space will mean that consumers and competitors will follow. And this will mean that everyone wins.

Where to start? Our friend and collaborator Daniel Webb, has looked in depth at the crucial issue of plastic in our supply chain. His Everyday Plastic report makes for interesting, insightful, but difficult reading. But it’s certainly worth 20 minutes of your time.

Let’s get this restaurant revival started!

Thanks for reading. I really hope this was useful. If you have any feedback, questions or just want to catch up, then please do drop me an email or give me a call. I’m all ears!

Stay well,


Article / Beliefs
The Rebel Revival
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The Rebel Revival

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  1. Free Advice And Advisory

  2. Pay-What-You-Can Graphic Design And Content Creation

  3. An Easy Way To Give Back To Our Global Community

I've been pondering, over the last few days, about how to start this. Keeping a close eye on how the pandemic is evolving at home, across the country and around the globe. Never has the world we know changed so fast.

Writing is something I don't do often. At least not publicly. But if nothing else, this is a time for trying new things. Being bold, open and honest in the hope that others may benefit in some small way from what we all have to say.

The power of community, of our collective and individual ingenuity I'm certain, will get us through this. Here's where we're at and how we're going to support the people in our professional lives who matter the most - Our Clients, Our Collaborators, Our Community.

Rebel Is Open For Business.

Whilst our last day in Rebel HQ was the Friday before last Lucy, Jess and I have been working remotely and figuring out how we push through this, what Covid-19 means for us as individuals, as a really small business, and for our industry as a whole.

I'm not going to lie, our revenue has gone from a really strong first quarter to as good as non-existent in the last couple of weeks. I'm not ashamed to say that, nor am I saying that in an attempt to invoke any kind of pity. But the reality is that this is going to be tough on us and everyone else who's part of the travel, hotel and hospitality industry - sectors which have been all but decimated by the sudden and catastrophic spread of Covid-19.

But all we can do, all I know how to do, is to carry on. To persevere and to hope that when we come out of this, as many of us as possible will do so fighting fit, stronger and more united than ever.

Getting through this centres on livelihoods, families, teams and networks all coexisting in an interconnected, interdependent world. Our ability to work together whilst being apart is testament to this and I hope, on the other side, the world will remember that communities are global and not restricted by geography.

It's been amazing to see is how quickly businesses are adapting in the face of this crisis, launching takeaway and delivery services from their kitchens and bars to make sure their suppliers, teams and communities are taken care of. We're an agile bunch.

Until further notice, we're open, online and eager to do whatever we can to support. So don't hesitate to reach out if any of what we lay out below is of interest.

I’m sure that if we stick together, we’ll get through this and will be in the best possible position to bounce back when this nightmare is over. Ready to revive our businesses and our industry as a whole. We’re really looking forward to being a part of that.

Free Advice And Advisory Services For Our Clients.

With other members of our partner and freelancer network, we're committing a collective 20 hours a week to offering totally free advice, advisory services and strategy to anyone who reaches out. Drawing on our experience and insights, we'll work together to come up with a bespoke solution to the biggest challenges you're currently facing - be this creating a takeaway and delivery product for your business, a marketing campaign strategy, or helping your team navigate the challenges of pivoting and serving their guests in a different way for the coming weeks and months.

More information on the services we offer are on our website. We look forward to hearing from you.

Pay What You Can Design And Content From Our Collaborators.

We've got an amazing network of small partner agencies and freelancers on our books, a large number of them self-employed and not yet supported in any meaningful way by The Government's rescue packages. Most are hospitality specialists and like us, have been hit hard by the current situation. We want to support them in any way we can.

Through Rebel, they've all agreed to offer their services on heavily discounted rates, on a pay-what-you-can basis, or even on a barter. So you can name your price and we'll get it done!

Take a look at some recent design and branding work here, and then let us know if you'd like to set up a call to see if we may be able to help.

A Helping Hand For Our Global Community.

Our friends and clients will be familiar with our work in India and that we're in the process of launching our charitable foundation. We're collaborating with an incredible organisation in Mumbai called The OSCAR Foundation and together, we'll be supporting gifted young women from inner city slums living really tough lives.

The communities that we work with have already been hit hard by the economic impact of Covid-19, if not yet the disease itself, and many families are now without income. We've also seen a dramatic drop in donations to NGOs, putting their ability to support their beneficiaries at risk.

Whilst this may initially seem like an abstract cause but these families are part of Rebel's community and we feel it's our duty to help in any way we can.

We've set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations, no matter how small, and 100% of these will go directly to The OSCAR Foundation.

Your support would mean the world to us and to the families who will benefit. A little bit of money goes a long way in India.

Thank you for your support.

Ed, team Rebel and the Rebel Girls in India x

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Independent Businesses Need Our Support
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Independent Businesses Need Our Support

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As the spread of coronavirus continues, I think like a lot of people, we're attempting to balance doing the right thing with continuing to go about our lives as normally as we possibly can.

Like most Friday afternoons, conversations in the office have turned to what plans we all have for the weekend. And of course, to how so many of our friends and peers in hospitality must be gravely concerned about their businesses.

We're not suggesting for one moment that anyone does anything less than follow the latest government advice on minimising the spread of coronavirus, but if you are feeling well and heading out this weekend, we've pulled together a short list of our favourite independents in London right now. I know they'd love to see you.

Have a safe, sanitised and healthy weekend,

Ed and team Rebel.

Sussex Restaurant, Frith Street, Soho

We can't get enough of Sussex. Their "what grows together, goes together" approach brings some of the finest British produce to central London from their family farm in... you guessed it... Sussex.

Order a glass of Nutty Wild sparkling at the bar along with a couple of their addictive Mushroom Marmite Eclairs, before sitting down to plates of Venison Ragu with home made pappardelle; and Fallow Dear with Faggot, Parsley Root, Brassicas, Button Onions and Red Wine Jus. | 020 3923 7770

Kanishka, Maddox Street, Mayfair

Kanishka is the latest restaurant from the talented team led by Atul Kochhar and explores the lesser-known cuisines of north-east India.

London is awash with brilliant Indian restaurants these days, but if pushing the boat out and forgetting about the current unprecedented reality of the world outside is on your agenda, we can't recommend a table here highly enough. | 020 3978 0978

Jolene, Newington Green

If brunch is your thing, and let's face it, it's everyone's thing, Jolene is almost unbeatable for relaxed north London vibes, the best bread and amazing eggs.

Fried eggs, Jamon and potatoes is our go-to, and there's plenty for vegetarians and vegans too. | 020 3887 2309

Silo, Hackney Wick

Respect due to Silo for their unfaltering commitment to Zero waste and it's a pretty beautiful room to be in, too.

Perched on the River Lee, it's a great spot for lunch and dinner with plenty of options to walk the calories off afterwards. Or, Crate Brewery is close by, should your favoured approach be to settle in to a few lazy beers. | 020 7993 8155

Duck Soup, Dean Street, Soho

Duck Soup has been around for a while but we still can't get enough of their super ingredient-focused, simple food and commitment to selling brilliant wines that are just on the right side of funky.

If the sun's out, their single table on the footpath is possibly our favourite place to perch in Soho and watch the world go by.

And if you're staying in or having people over, they offer 40% off their list prices for wines to go. More people need to know about this. | 020 7287 4599

Article / Beliefs
Employee Engagement In Five Steps
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Article / Beliefs

Employee Engagement In Five Steps

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It’s great to see so many new forums, focus groups and initiatives flourishing in London, that strive to make hospitality careers and working environments better. For an industry plagued with gender imbalance, big egos and poor behaviour, long hours, low pay, high stress, addiction and mental health issues, the various standpoints being taken by initiatives such as Andrew Clarke’s Pilot Light Campaign, Victoria Stewart’s Hospitality Speaks, Natalia Ribbe’s Ladies of Restaurants and most recently, Ravneet Gill’s Counter Talk are beginning conversations about how a vibrant, interesting and thriving industry can work better for everyone and remain sustainable in the face of myriad challenges and pressures.

Counter Talk.

Counter Talk specifically focuses on matching great candidates with great employers, vetting both parties for positive cultural fit whilst hosting events to bring the conversation to the widest possible audience.

It was a pleasure to speak at their event last night, which was all about great on-boarding, retention and off-boarding practices. At Rebel, we’ve done a lot of work in this space with a variety of clients and it was great to be able to present how we’ve developed our own culture and purpose as an organisation, whilst showcasing how the brilliant Rosa’s Thai Cafés benefited from a long standing relationship with us across the business, but most notably the work we did on their culture and how to implement this through robust, measurable processes and systems.

The Triple Bottom Line.

It’s our firm belief that success of any kind and in any business is achieved by focusing on three key things - People, Purpose and Profit. Businesses need to stand for something, put caring at the heart of their activities, and ensure that relationships are win-win all round.

Here’s a summary of my talk last night, along with keynote excepts that communicate some of the ways we frame and communicate our approach to building engagement and great cultures, and how we implemented this throughout our time working with the team at Rosa’s.

1. Defining Purpose

Rosa’s is a really special business. A product of two individual’s differences and shared passions has led to critical and financial success, leading a dynamic and genuinely interesting company that has pursued its goals with clarity, focus and a bucket load of purpose. A business that strives to “Create an Inspiring Environment that Makes People Happy”, Rosa’s is organised around this principal and it has become the yardstick for decision making within the company.

Whether in terms of staff, guests, shareholders, suppliers or the wider community, “happiness” is measurable and something we all want and need in all areas of our lives. And when it comes to an ‘inspiring environment’, this could relate to how the company creates opportunities for its people as much as transporting guests away from their everyday lives, to sunnier climbs and fond food memories of holidays to Thailand. And on an academic level, a great way to measure how the ‘Producers of Happiness’ (we let people choose their own job titles as part of this project) or café managers are maintaining their physical environment and the music, lighting, heating and general tidiness of their sites. I could go on but I hope you get the point.

Veteran brand strategist Robert Bean calls this “The Single Organising Principal” that unlocks and defines everything a company does, and as an aside his new podcast series is really worth a listen.

2. Telling A Compelling Story

Once an organisation has defined its purpose, telling a compelling story as a part of the recruitment and on boarding process is crucial, communicating exactly where the business came from, what kind of organisation the candidates may be joining, and where they can help the business go.

Rosa’s mantra is “Born in the East, Raised in the East End” - perfectly marrying founder Saiphin’s Laotian/Thai roots, meeting husband and co-founder Alex in Hong Kong, and then moving to London to open Rosa’s first as a food stall on Brick Lane and later their first café on Hanbury Street.

We wanted to visually celebrate this journey and meeting of cultures and minds, by creating a timeline that clearly shows Alex and Saiphin’s personal history as much as the progress of the business itself. The keen eyed will notice that that left half of this graphic follows the path of the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok, with the right half following the path of the Thames. The journey concludes with the phrase “Only you can help tell the next part of the story…”

This cornerstone piece if collateral was reinforced with a high energy, engaging induction video, a Rosa’s ‘Storybook’ induction manual, and key in-café collateral available for both staff and guests to see and demonstrating a commitment to transparency in the businesses.

3. Aligning Needs

A clearly defined purpose and a compelling story are great foundations for building culture, but nothing without a commitment to aligning the needs of all stakeholders in the business. For the purposes of last night’s talk, I wanted to focus on the business, its leaders and its teams.

We see key line managers as a conduit for information between those setting the direction of the business and defining its success, and those with their own individual needs and definitions of success who are employed to help the business achieve its goals. Focusing on this crucial group of people is essential. Left to their own devices, managers run the risk of falling into a rescuing, empathetic role when faced with unhappy teams. This jeopardises everyone’s happiness, not to mention the business’ ability to achieve its goals.

“We used to be one big happy family, now it’s just every man for himself” was a telling line we once heard from a floor manager in one of our client’s restaurants.

So if you’re going to invest in one area of your operation, make sure its the managers on the frontline who have a responsibility to translate and reinforce company goals, whilst making sure that the company honours its duty to help each individual on their team achieve their own version of success.

4. Building Culture

Culture is a big word. Hard to define. And brilliantly fluffy. Wikipedia defines it as “the behavior of humans within an organization and the meaning that people attach to those behaviors”. For us, it’s the glue that holds a business together and helps to ensure that everyone cares, and wins from the time they spend interacting with a business. And good culture does not happen by accident or without design. A great place to start is to develop an understanding of how the way people engage, communicate and think about their roles can have a dramatic effect of the overall culture of the business.

With Rosa’s, we explained this using a simple graphic based on the Karpman Drama Triangle (explained in this brilliant YouTube video by Lauren Kress) which seeks to move conversations away from finger pointing to a culture of self-responsibility and positivity. based on the key attributes of transparency, empathy, patience and respect.

“The company doesn’t offer me enough training and they expect me to learn everything myself” is better phrased “A few of us have been talking and we feel that we could benefit from some extra training on [insert specifics].”

5. Build Routine

Rosa’s founder Alex and I share many cultural ideologies, and the stolen phrases and ideas have made both of our lives and businesses better. “Routine will set you free” is one of his favourites, and something I’ve wholly adopted in the way I plan my diary in and out of work.

Defining and building Purpose and Culture needs to be underpinned by structure and routine, and there are many key touch points that can be put in place without enormous investments of time and effort that help to change and improve the way businesses function. Both at Rosa’s and elsewhere, here are some of our top tips -

  1. Hold quarterly “retreats” with key members of your team. Whilst these can be used for a number of purposes; from cultural and communication standpoints, use these days to create ‘squads’ that are cross departmental, non-hierarchical and set up to address a particular area of a business that’s supernumerary to the day to day, and result in a return on investment in People, Purpose or Profit. These squads then have the autonomy to deliver on mutually agreed targets and goals by the next retreat, resulting in a three month sprint in between
  2. Retreats are also great times to send out employee happiness and engagement surveys and Survey Monkey have some great templates for this
  3. Thinking about daily engagement, a ’[email protected]’ meeting or call for ten minutes and 10am each day, is a great way to deal quickly with issues from the previous day, discuss issues around culture and people, and work together to continuously and incrementally improve certain urgent by easy-to-fix issues in the business
  4. Pre-shift briefings are a must for any hospitality business and can be used to communicate guest and staff-centric information, financial targets, and quickly reinforce a particular aspect of your purpose and story if there is a current issue in a particular location
  5. Then thinking about weekly and monthly engagement, and depending on the size and capacity of your business, set repeating events such as a weekly managers conference call on a Monday afternoon and a monthly all-hands meeting and make sure conversations around employee satisfaction and culture are top of the agenda
  6. Annually, there’s nothing like a summer party or Christmas knees up to get your entire workforce together, and both are a great way to end an informative, inclusive day of workshops, presentations, and transparent reflection on how well the business is doing in its pursuit of success, to celebrate achievements of some individuals in the organisation, and create forums to get real, unbiased, honest opinions on the table before setting a plan in place for the year ahead

Making Engagement And Culture Daily Priorities.

Using your purpose and story as a benchmark for everything in your business, and building dialogue around how behaviours and actions match up to expectations is crucial. Only this will ensure that you see the improvements you’re looking for. Make sure these five steps are front of mind and an integral part of your business all day, every day

  1. WHY does the business exist?
  2. WHAT are people buying in to?
  3. HOW do we make it win-win for everyone?
  4. FOSTER a culture of fairness and transparency
  5. MAKE it a daily priority
Article / Beliefs
Want Brand Loyalty? Deliver On The Details
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Article / Beliefs

Want Brand Loyalty? Deliver On The Details

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In the digital world, hotels are continuing to invest heavily in marketing in order to stand out from the crowd as the noise online and on social media continues to increase. Regardless of what we think of them, influencers are now a vital way of attracting customers or guests to your business and brands are harnessing their reach to great effect.

PR agents will continue to tell you that print media and traditional channels are still relevant, and they’re definitely right.

Engaging Marketing.

Operators understand the mechanics of marketing a modern business and how they can conjure up magic with video, photography and copy, reach an audience through influencer marketing, and use social media to open up the doors to a business and tell compelling stories.

But with every element of operations, product and experience now under the spotlight and online for everyone to see, how do operators make sure that customers and guests fall in love with their brand when they first experience it in the flesh, tell everyone they know and then keep coming back for more?

Brand Experience In The Real World.

With the bar and expectations so clearly set, hotels cannot fail to deliver in the real world. Frequently referenced, disruptive hotel brands such as Hoxton, Ace and Citizen M are keeping it cool, community-focused and restrained online, so they can over deliver and exceed expectations in their hotels. There’s no overpromising and underdelivering and this is one of the defining factors contributing to their growth, reputation and success.

Remaining Relevant.

Large groups on the other hand are facing a challenge when it comes to engaging and maintaining the discerning, conscious consumer base they’re so keen to attract; relying heavily on generous loyalty schemes to keep guests committed to staying at their properties.

Corporate challenger brands such as 25 Hours Hotels, in which Accor recently took a stake, are a timely addition to the competitive landscape alongside Marriott’s Moxy and soon to launch Motto by Hilton’s coming out of the world’s two largest hotel groups in an attempt to attract a new audience.

Regardless of star rating or select-service credentials, brand loyalty will be won and lost by delivering on the details during guests’ stays and aligning the brand’s values with those of their guests.

The challenge for the large groups is going to be ensuring they don’t offer a diminished guest experience that will undermine the anticipation created by slick marketing. And with complex, often unclear families of brands, ageing estates and the favoured brand/developer/operator model, stakeholder buy-in presents a real hurdle.

The Essentials.

Here are our top 5 non-negotiables for an on property guest experience that lives up to the marketing hype, and some great examples of how brands are taking this to the next level.

1. Environmental Credentials

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, there is simply no excuse for hotels not to be taking their impact on the world seriously. No one wants to see plastic-packaged snacks or confectionary, plastic-wrapped soap bars or miniature toiletries in their rooms. And no, removing plastic straws is not enough.

Case Studies.

In an effort to keep room rates, and no doubt investment at reasonable levels, Ace Hotel’s ‘Sister City’ hotel in the LES have cut down everything in room to only the essential, stripped-back necessities based on a deep understanding of what the modern traveller needs, and bolstering their environmental credentials to boot.

Here are our top 5 non-negotiables for an on property guest experience that lives up to the marketing hype, and some great examples of how brands are taking this to the next level.

And following on from Soho House’s lead with their in-room Cowshed products in refillable retail packaging that can also be purchased, Kimpton Hotels are now taking a similar approach with their partnership with NYC-based Malin & Goetz as part of their commitment to reduce their reliance on single use plastics across their estate.

2. Coffee

From cool lobby coffee bars to kettles in bedrooms, sachets of Nescafé or anything less than a locally relevant, independent coffee programme is not going to cut it. Guests would rather pay for a premium product than be left with something that doesn’t live up to their high street experience and expectations.

With the premium-isation of coffee now firmly established in the mainstream it’s a simple and cost effective way to really elevate a guest’s experience in room.

3. Technology

It’s staggering that so many hotel brands make it so hard to get online, let alone understand how the modern consumer expects technology to enhance their stay. The large chains must move away from seeing wifi as a revenue making opportunity to a necessity that must be delivered seamlessly. Especially in room, when properties have captured guest data at check-in.

Aside from the basics, smart TVs with access to Netflix, easy-to-operate air-conditioning, and a lighting system that doesn’t require five minutes of experimentation just to turn the whole system off are all pretty essential parts of a satisfying hotel experience.

A multi-country plug including USB right next to the bed is also an absolute essential.

Case Studies.

Looking past the basics, US-based hotel group Life House have recently raised $70 million off the back of their pioneering tech platform which allows guests to connect and network ahead of their stay. Their tech-forward approach includes a mobile app “that serves as your room key, personal concierge, and so much more”.

Room service revitalised, boutique hotel Lokal in Philadelphia have recently launched an iPad service in their rooms, loaded with room service apps allowing guests to order take away or stock their mini bars/pantries from local businesses.

4. A Great Breakfast Experience

Leading on from coffee, a varied breakfast offering that’s fresh, seasonal and locally relevant is a must in today’s hotel market. To succeed, this needs go beyond the buffet, but doesn’t necessarily mean increasing choice.

A concise, considered programme is essential in order to meet the needs of today’s busy business and leisure travellers. This must cater to choice diets, health and indulgence, and be underpinned by the ability to eat in or grab and go.

Increasingly, the new generation of hotels are doing away with buffets, markets and bed and breakfast rates entirely, instead creating great neighbourhood all day restaurants that tap in the local community, give guests a sense of place, and offer an experience and level of product that they’re happy to pay a premium for whilst understanding that many will choose to check out somewhere local for the first meal of the day, rather than sacrifice quality and the opportunity to tick that hot café off their bucket list.

5. A Well Maintained Branded Environment

Guests are less concerned with up to the minute decor, but can be negatively impacted by poorly-considered brand touch points. Poorly presented, dog-eared, tired collateral can really affect a guest’s perception of a hotel.

With guests now wanting to feel part of the local community when staying in hotels, in room collateral presents an opportunity to communicate clearly how seriously the hotel takes its environmental impact and how it contributes positively to the locale.

This needs to focus on what’s going on around the property that guests may be interested in, not just self-promotion of in house facilities, which must of course be carefully considered and beautifully presented.

Stocking co-branded local products in the bathrooms and minibars is also a great way to celebrate a property's local, collaborative credentials.

However, with the drive towards digital continuing, we look forward to the day when printed collateral in room is a thing of the past, save potentially for a cornerstone in-house magazine that keeps print media alive.

Brands such as Park Hyatt, St Regis and Kempinski have partnered with Grey Door Publishing to produce in house magazines for their properties that are aligned perfectly to their brands and focus on individual properties and their surroundings, including attractions, bars and restaurants that are relevant to the properties’ target clientele.

Grey Door say “Each edition is completely unique to the host hotel and city, offering the reader a compelling narrative into the hotel’s services and the city’s culture, encompassing dining, shopping, nightlife and experiential attractions.”

Of course, none of this matters a dime without a great people experience and slick, personable service driven by subtly captured data that is effortlessly deployed. We will follow up soon with a post on this very topic.

Have a good week.

Brands such as Park Hyatt, St Regis and Kempinski have partnered with Grey Door Publishing to produce in house magazines for their properties that are aligned perfectly to their brands and focus on individual properties and their surroundings, including attractions, bars and restaurants that are relevant to the properties’ target clientele.

Grey Door say “Each edition is completely unique to the host hotel and city, offering the reader a compelling narrative into the hotel’s services and the city’s culture, encompassing dining, shopping, nightlife and experiential attractions.”

Of course, none of this matters a dime without a great people experience and slick, personable service driven by subtly captured data that is effortlessly deployed. We will follow up soon with a post on this very topic.

Have a good week.

Article / Beliefs
Veganism - It's Here To Stay
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Article / Beliefs

Veganism - It's Here To Stay

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Veganism. It’s here and, in light of recent climatic emergencies (hallelujah!), it’s very likely here to stay.

Long gone are the days of 2015 when, in the UK at least, the vegetarian option was likely a mere mélange of leftovers tossed with Arborio rice or, at a push, button mushrooms fresh off the field; today’s most successful menus offer an array of vegetable forward options to satisfy the ever demanding flexitarian of 2019.

This is a blatant generalization of course. Places like Ottolenghi, Palomar, Honey & Co, Rasa, Dishoom and Lyle’s have long offered quality vegan options, without feeling the need to dust off the zeitgeist-branded megaphone. And as leading chefs embrace the trend — from Ravinder Bhogal of Jikoni to Chantelle Nicholson of Tredwells and Atul Kochhar of Benares — expect to find more exciting and creative vegetable-focused dishes popping up on regular menus across London. It’s becoming the new normal.

According to The Independent in April 2018, 3.5 million people identify themselves as being vegan in Great Britain and in 2018 the UK launched more vegan products than any nation, resulting in a number of movements connected to veganism that are not merely focused on what we eat, but how we live.

The convergence of ethical consumerism and vegan, vegetarian or plant based eating means that every operator needs to really think about how they cater to both these considerable behavioral changes. Because it’s without question that that party of 5 meat-lovers are going to be swayed by the one vegan in the group when they decide where to part with their hard-earned cash.

Whether hospitality brands are upping their credentials for identity over ethics is by the by, for as long as the consumer continues to vote with their wallet, they remain king and queen of this compassionate equation.

Here are some equally interesting veganic goings on within the hospitality and design space

1. London’s First Vegan Hotel Room

Hilton London Bankside offer London’s first luxury vegan hotel suite. Adorned without leathers nor feathers nor wool and walls lacquered with latex paints and foams, the room uses 100% sustainable, plant-based components. No mean feat.

2. Vegan Interior Design Book

Bringing affordable* vegan luxury into homeward ground, Deborah Dimare’s home edition of Vegan Interiors ensures those with exemplary conscientious credentials can still make considered purchases for our home, albeit at a considered price.

*Expect to pay in excess of £100 for a new soft back

3. Vegan Design

According to Dezeen, vegan interiors are set to become as popular as vegan food.

If you’d like to discuss how Rebel can support with customer insights, menu development and training then we’d love to hear from you.

Article by Barnaby Ingram

Article / Beliefs
8 Emerging Trends That Will Shape 2019
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Article / Beliefs

8 Emerging Trends That Will Shape 2019

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2018 was a diverse year, with many trends and where “Bit-Coin” was the most googled search word, a robot named Michihito Matsuda ran for mayor in Tokyo, where insects became a socially-accepted menu item, and a huge number of Brits also asked google how to delete “Instagram” and “Facebook”.

Looking forward, here’s our pick of the top eight trends that will dominate our industry in the next year.

The Mega Trend:

Plastic-Free Wave.

The official word of the year for 2018 was “single-use”, People recognised and acknowledged the plastic waste issue in 2018, and it was the year that saw a plastic straw ban in most countries and a number of activists emerging on the issue.

The fact is that recycling is just not enough and in many cases, simply not possible. Great Britain’s Royal Statistical Society announced its statistic of the year, estimating that 90.5% of plastic waste ever made has never been recycled.

If 2018 was the year of awareness and contemplation, 2019 will be the year of action with single plastic-use becoming a firm social taboo this year.

Rebel’s Tip:

Check out our collaborator Dan Webb’s Everyday Plastic Campaign here, which casts a bright light on the enormity of the plastic problem in the UK and what we need to do about it.

Hotel Trends:


Hostels have been a part of the hospitality sector for years now, but are not yet widely acknowledged as being a direct competitor to hotels. However this is rapidly changing.

It’s not only backpackers who are interested in this type of accommodation. In an attempt to stand out from the crowd, hostels are beginning to integrate traditional hotel elements into their projects – such as barista bars, spas, rooftop pools and innovative interior design.

Will 2019 see the beginning of the slow death of traditional, price and function-focused hostel, making way for the unstoppable rise of the poshtel? Maybe not, however expect to see more brands playing in this space this year.

Rebel’s Tip:

Check in to Sydell Group’s FreeHand Hotels in cities across the US, Found Hotel in Chicago, Clink in Amsterdam & London, and Generator hostels in multiple European destinations.


The overall size of a hotel room is shrinking and research shows that millennials, which are business and design-conscious travellers, are interested in following the micro-hotel trend. They are searching for an experience that provides, authenticity, affordability and flexibility in the trendiest parts of cities around the world.

Rebel’s Tip:

Check out our previous blog post for the latests mico-hotel tips and trends here

The Lobby Change.

The lobby of 2019 is becoming a central clubhouse where people can explore various activities according to Hotel Propeller. This important hotel design trend has already caused hotel chains to completely update their lobbies into unique, personalised environments.

2019 will see further innovation in how hotels of all levels are looking to create community-centric lobbies that are so much more than places to just check-in, eat, drink and play.

Behavioural trends:

Joy Of Missing Out (JOMO)

Customers are rebelling against the “always-on” mentality of today’s digitally connected world, with behaviour shifting from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to a desire to unplug; focusing on authenticity, privacy and the enjoyment of face-to-face and live experiences.

According to an article by Forbes, The JOMO trend is triggered because people only want to participate or attend something when the experience is really valuable and absolutely authentic, since 80% of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience over object.

In general, customers now expect their experience or food to include engaging elements and valued added surprises. If the experience isn’t adding value, consumers increasingly prefer to miss out on it all together. This trend is expected to grow even further in 2019, but specifically in countries like China and South-Korea, since this is where customers are hyper-connected and known for being the front runners of digital connectivity (Thestar, 2018).

Rebel’s Tip:

The bespoke travel company Black Tomato helps travellers disconnect from their ordinary lives by dropping them in secret and remote locations, which ultimately challenges them to find their way back to civilisation without Wi-Fi. See their video for the adventurous ‘Get-Lost’ holiday trip here.


The personalisation trend is on-going and will continue to influence businesses as guests expect to be offered exactly what they want and when they want it. The future predicts a next evolution of personalisation: “Know your guests better than they know themselves” (Hugh Fisher, 2017). If you’re not delivering it, you will fall behind.

Food and beverage trends:

Year Of The Vegan - Vegan Wines

A record number of people have signed up to Veganuary this year, a campaign whereby participants go vegan for the month of Jan and according to industry specialists, such as The Economist and The Guardian, 2019 will be the year of the “vegan”.

Even China is going vegan: research predicts that China’s vegan market will grow more than 17% between 2015 and 2020. And in Hong Kong, 22% of the population reports practicing some form of a plant-based diet.

In 2019, we expect to see a rise of vegan wines in the hospitality industry. Most mainstream and even boutique wines are not vegan at all, since animal products are used in the “fining” process part of the wine.

Rebel’s Tip:

Lidl’s has recently launched vegan wines in their stores, which are purse-friendly too.

Alcohol-Free Beer

We realised this was an important trend when we worked with BrewDog on a project last year. Beer in general continues to be a hot topic, but for 2019 we believe that the alcohol-free or low-alcohol beer will take the stage and conquer many hearts.

A late 2018 survey of beer specialists from the Netherlands revealed that there was a growth of 11% in alcohol-free beer sales in their domestic market. An additional study in the UK revealed that there was 13% domestic growth in the year of 2018 for alcohol-free beer.

Over half of the respondents believe that it is more socially acceptable to drink alcohol-free beer and the fact that most of the millennials are highly focussed on their health. 37% of 18-24 year olds are ‘often influenced’ by how a product affects their health and wellbeing when purchasing an alcoholic drink, and a staggering 34% of 25-34 year olds are ‘always influenced’, according to GlobalData’s 2018 Q3 UK Consumer Survey.

Rebel’s Tip:

Heineken 0.0% are one of the campaign leaders in this segment, the brand’s £6m “Now You Can” campaign is the biggest seen so far for a non-alcoholic beer. Since their launch in March 2017 and has quickly became the fastest growing brand in the alcohol-free segment, growing 187% in the last year.

Article / Beliefs
Is The Future Co-Living?
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Article / Beliefs

Is The Future Co-Living?

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While researching the Co-living, Co-working, Long Stay and Student accommodation scene for a project, we realised that the overarching theme throughout this research seemed to be smaller, simply appointed and well designed rooms and engaging, community-spirited communal areas that appeal to an ‘experiences over possessions’ audience that are broadly, but not exclusively, millennials.

However, throughout the research we realised that many of the brands in this market are VERY similar and essentially re-packaging the same core product (sorry to be pessimistic here). This raised several questions that we think are worth discussing such as, how are different brands differentiating? and achieving their price-points? We of course realise the importance of the individual brands and the emotional connection they carry with the audience could prove to be the leading differentiator, but see other questions arising.

Bigger Questions Around Co-living

The broader context of this research is that today’s workforce is no longer aligned to the housing market that proliferates big cities. Is co-living the long term solution to this, or do genuine and lasting solutions to this problem exist elsewhere?

As part of our research into co-living, we looked at brands such as The Collective and Roam, plus other innovations such as Y:Cube and Fish Island Village, both in London; and how co-living may provide solutions to challenges in the retirement community space.

However, on a fundamental level, whilst dorms and communal kitchens may suit students and graduates down to the ground, we believe that in order to achieve a sizeable shift in behaviour and mass-market penetration, we need to think carefully about what co-living looks like on a medium to long terms basis as residents move through to settling down, marrying and having children. What are the medium to long terms effects of having such minimal personal space, favouring ‘communities’ and interaction over relaxation, time alone and dealing with the core societal, environmental and technological developments that many believe are challenging our ability to be happy?

A Disconnect Between Vision and Reality

Throughout this research a common theme emerged, centring on a polarisation of opinion when it comes to delivering on the objectives and aspirations of co-living.

At The Collective in north London, a tenant was quoted when talking about his experience, as saying that ‘at the end of the day, you’re stuck between a cupboard and a door”. Another said that “services and facilities are under used and [that] it’s always the same 50 – 60 people you see which means the community feel is missing. In the same article, the author wrote that “it’s not the case that everyone at the Collective sees the social upside of living here, with a handful of residents saying the majority of people aren’t interested in meeting anyone”.

Finally, another resident was quoted as saying “it’s not much more than a glorified student dorm”.

In contrast to this, innovators, operators and industry paints a very different picture of the opportunity, the sector and the potential for growth. Soho House founder Nick Jones, said of his interest in exploring opportunities in the sector that “for people that come out of university, people who are doing startups, accommodation can be incredibly expensive in London and if we can find places in non-expensive areas but do it in a certain style, in a certain sort of way, then we think there might be a good following for that”.

He went on to say that “This whole space where people want to work together rather than at the kitchen table or in the Starbucks or in Soho House; where they want to have a community, a communal work space. I think that is definitely moving over to living space as well”.

Residents of Roam in Chelsea were more upbeat, with one quoted as saying that it feels “more boutique hotel than youth hostel”. But with rates starting at £2,800.00 per month it’s not hard to see why this would be the expectation and the reality. One resident who had moved over from New York said that “if people are used to rents in San Francisco, New York or Seoul, as a lot of these globetrotters are, £2,800 a month ‘seems reasonable’”.

Interestingly, Roam London is now closed and their international growth toward their objective of “building a global community without borders” seems to be pedestrian at best, with outlets in Tokyo, Bali, Miami and San Francisco and no current London location despite this being cited as imminent in a reference article dated late 2016. Does this suggest that global potential and scalability may be more of a challenge than operators initial thought?

What About The Long Term?

COO of the Collective James Scott commented that “demand for this type of accommodation –where everything from washing-up liquid to toilet roll is supplied – is soaring. In every other industry you’ve got an ownership model and you’ve got a service model,” he said. “The property market doesn’t have that.” He went on to say that the movement reflects how young people, who accept they can’t get a foot on the property ladder, now value experiences over possessions, before pointing to Uber, rental bike and car services, mobile phone contracts, Netflix and Kindle as examples of how Generation Y are choosing to do away with belongings.

Whilst this may be true, we can’t help considering whether taking the logic behind the “sharing economy” and discretionary investment in depreciating assets, and applying this to the safety net, security and investment in the future that underpins property investment is realistic or sensible.

Not Just For Nomads And Freelancers

Looking to the US market, it’s interesting that Common founder Brad Hargreaves has seen more city workers among his Brooklyn tenants than freelancers and people in the creative sector. “We weren’t getting global nomads and freelancers, we were getting people who worked normal jobs in the city”, he said. “It costs around £250/week to live in a co-living space, making it 25% cheaper than a studio and about 25% more expensive than finding a room on Craigslist”.

He too has seen a shift in attitude in what renters want, he said: “What we’ve seen is a desire for experiences over ownership. Dollars are being spent on experiences as opposed to purchasing things that you own for a long period of time. I don’t know whether this is good or bad, but I think we are part of that trend.”

Planning And Development Considerations

A Southwark (a borough in South London) planning officer was quoted as saying that he didn’t underhand why “developers can’t just deliver standard housing” and that his council “remained to be convinced” of the concept, as people should not be “forced through economic necessity to live in very small flats”. Whilst this may indeed be missing the points of co-living as a concept, it is worth noting that buy in from decision makers is going to be pivotal in the large scale growth that innovators in the space are hoping to achieve.


From the limited research that we’ve undertaken it is clear that the co-living sector has some time to go before one optimum model or brand emerges, and achieves the objective of national or international scalability and a fundamental and permanent shift in the way that a significant-enough audience wishes to live.

There is certainly evidence that corroborates the viability of the emerging co-living model as part of a nascent lifestyle that certainly suits a sector of society. Also, what is certain is that in many major cities, the current solution to housing is not serving the population. But whether co-living emerges as being the prevailing solution to this remains to be seen.

We feel the key opportunity is to genuinely and successfully bridge the gap between brand aspiration and reality from tenants, creating buildings that fulfil needs and focus on wellbeing and contentedness over simply assembling all the features and facilities that make up the lifestyles and requirements of an emerging sector of society. Packing these with clever branding under the guise of filling the community void missing from the “lonely” lives of today’s millennial, will be the way to go.

Finally, putting innovation aside and looking at this from a return and asset-sweating point of view, it would be interesting to understand what could be created that is unique whilst offering maximum return on investment.

Do you have a different opinion on co-living spaces? Or did we miss anything you think is important to consider in this scene? Get in touch!

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World Earth Day- 5 Simple And Stylish Ways To Reduce Your Plastic Usage
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World Earth Day- 5 Simple And Stylish Ways To Reduce Your Plastic Usage

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We’ve all seen the horrifying images of the Sperm Whale who washed up on the Spanish coast in February, having reportedly ingested 64 pounds (28kg) of plastic. This is yet another stark reminder that we have a huge global plastic problem that can no longer be ignored.

Reducing our plastic consumption and that of our projects is something that we’ve been thinking about a lot at Rebel, thanks in no small part to our collaborator Dan Webb’s incredible Everyday Plastic campaign which has been gaining momentum of late. So ahead of Earth Day on Sunday 22nd April, we thought now would be the perfect time to pull together our top 5 most inventive and stylish solutions to reducing plastic consumption, swapping out single use and disposable items with products that look and feel as good as they are for the planet.

1. Stay Sixty water bottles

They say – “Meet Stay Sixty, the beautifully crafted reusable water bottle designed to fit effortlessly into your daily routine. Our bottles are easy to clean & easy to carry, meaning you can concentrate on life’s little adventures. Meet your new favourite accessory”

We say – Designed down the road from us in Dalston, we love how these bottles look and feel and swapping out single use plastic bottles for one in our favourite colour was a no brainer

Everyday Plastic says – “The proposed Deposit Return Scheme is a step in the right direction, but having your own refillable and reusable water bottle is the most cost-effective in the long run”

2. Frank Green Smart Cups and Smart Bottles

They say – “What we make is innovative products that are stylish, functional and great for our environment. The kind you want to carry with you. They are SmartCups and SmartBottles. Our aesthetic is refined and pared back in shape, letting you enhance your natural and authentic style. Our products are an interplay of bold colours, tonal hues and soft pastels. Ideal for the minimalist, the maximalist, or anyone in between.”

We say – If you love matching accessories as much as we do, then you could do a lot worse than getting yourself a cup and bottle from the enormous range of colours and materials that Frank Green now offer.

Everyday Plastic says – “Sustainable, sexy and smart. What more do you need!”

3. Adidas x Parley Ocean Plastic Trainers

They say – “We are working with Parley to prevent plastic entering our oceans and transform it into high performance sportswear. Spinning the problem into a solution. The threat into a thread.

We say – Certain members of the Rebel team (read, Ed) have a bit of a thing for Adidas and therefore we couldn’t resist including these game changes trainers in this list, even if they are a little outside of our usual MO.

Everyday Plastic says – “Given that only 1% of clothing is recycled, this is not only makes a great-looking show, but also a statement about what can be done with recycled plastic”

4. Surfers Against Sewage Bamboo Cutlery

They say – “Being super lightweight it is perfect for taking on picnics or eating out, this functional set works just as well as any other plastic equivalent, but can be used over, and over again, and the bamboo feels smooth in the mouth like any other cutlery.

We say – As daily “Grab and Goers” who regularly eat at our desks, we’ve become really conscious of how much disposable flatware, container and cutlery we use. In addition to making an effort to pick up lunch or order from restaurants and cafés that don’t use plastic packaging, we’ve moved using Bamboo cutlery too.

Everyday Plastic says – “Plastic cutlery is a scourge and given our love for grab-and-go lunches, we are using more plastic forks and spoons than ever. These are beautiful, sustainable and most importantly, reusable”

5. Ecoffeecup Bamboo fibre reusable cup

They say – “Ecoffee Cup is a new generation of reusable takeaway cup. Created with the world’s fastest growing, most sustainable crop – bamboo fibre, Ecoffee Cup is BPA and phthalate free. If you haven’t experienced Ecoffee Cup, it feels a bit like thick, yet super-light cardboard; hard to believe it can hold hot liquids.

We say – 100% plastic free cups that are lovely to drink from, long lasting, and super easy to clean. If you want a cost effective, genuinely nice-to-use solution to all those single use coffee cups and lids, then this is it

Everyday Plastic says – “Waitrose has recently announced that it will stop selling disposable coffee cups. They sell around 52 million per year, so it’s a huge statement. Bamboo is really coming into its own in the manufacture of sustainable products, and it’s great to see these cups last long and look lush.”

We’d love to hear from producers of innovative solutions for reducing plastic waste, and from businesses who have implemented initiatives and great ideas to reduce the amount of plastic they use as part of their operations.

And if you would like to speak to us about ways that we can support your business with reducing its environment impact or operating sustainably and responsibly, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Why Small Businesses Should Take Social Responsibility Seriously
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Why Small Businesses Should Take Social Responsibility Seriously

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We live in a world of unprecedented opportunity, where thriving both holistically and in within the traditional definitions of success has never been more real. As a high school dropout from a small Oxfordshire town, I always feel the utmost gratitude for being part of a society which made my journey to date possible, whilst being impatiently excited about what the future holds. A society where I can start and grow a small business that ticks my personal boxes whilst fulfilling my professional aspirations. The ‘start up’ culture that facilitates entrepreneurship and allows passionate, driven individuals to build their work around a life that they love really is an incredible part of our time. Yet in the pursuit of personal goals it’s easy to forget about those less fortunate, and about the global impact that we have on the environment. Current vital hot topics notwithstanding.

According to, 70.1% of the world’s population holds only 3% of global wealth, meaning that just under 30% of the population own the remaining 97%. And we all know that economic disparity is steadily increasing. And whilst globalisation and a mobilised workforce are both great for us as individuals and our countries and cultures, the impact that this is having on our planet is as scary as the need to address it is urgent.

CSR Must Exist Across Business Of All Shapes And Sizes

Small businesses are the backbone of every economy and together, are a force to be reckoned with. The Federation Of Small Businesses in the UK states that the combined annual turnover of UK SMEs was £1.9 trillion in 2017. 51% of all private sector turnover in the UK.

CSR policies and programmes have been a key part of large companies for many years. No self-respecting organisation can operate without one. But as small business, we have a duty to think about how we can, individually and collectively, play our part in working towards a world where we are mobilised to address some of the key issues of our time and of the future. I know the stresses and pressures of running and growing a small business as much of the next person. This has been the subject of many after-work beers at our WeWork base in east London. Especially amongst those of us who care as much about impact as we do about profit.

The discussion always centres on where we can start and what we can do that’s easy, manageable and inline with our personal interests and professional goals.

A Business That Works For Everyone

At The Rebel Agency one of our key mantras is ” A Business That Works For Everyone: Our Clients, Our Collaborators, Our Community”. This means many things to us and to our network, and as a business that works with clients around the world our community has come to be borderless and non-geographic. It’s come to mean thinking carefully about how we can deal with the environmental impact of our activities wherever it is that we work, and about how we can have a sustained and measurable impact on those global citizens who need it most.

For almost a decade I’ve made frequent visits to Calcutta, India where I’ve developed a deep and lifelong relationship with and NGO called The Hope Foundation, and some of the children and young adults that I have committed to supporting so that they can thrive against all odds and in spite of the situation into which they were born. This was a personal endeavour for a long time, until I realised the increased impact we could have if I started thinking about it as part of our business. This is imminently being formalised as we put the finishing touches to a charitable foundation of our own, which will collect funds in the UK to support a dedicated project in the city and I’ll be writing about this soon.

But for now, let’s keep it simple.

We recently signed up to a fantastic organisation called One Percent For The Planet, committing one percent of our net revenues to support non-profits that are working on some serious global issues such as climate change, clean oceans, pollution and access to safe drinking water. This was the easiest thing we’ve ever done and we’re really excited about tapping in to their community of members and even collaborating on some projects.

In addition to this, we’ve committed to running a match fund for all our clients, so we have the potential to donate an additional percentage of revenues to organisations of our own choice and ultimately, to our own Foundation. Clients have the opportunity to donate a percentage of a project fee themselves.

Two percent of our turnover seemed achievable and realistic, whilst allowing the team and our clients to engage with some really impactful organisations in a simple and effective way. Of course as a growing agency, our cashflow is often something we have to watch closely, but we’ve never been more sure that this is the right thing to do and haven’t looked back since making the commitment.

It Has To Be Genuine

With so many crucial and often critical challenges facing our immediate communities and the world at large, there is something for everyone and as small businesses, we have the power to collectively have a sustained impact on the world. I believe it’s time we all take our responsibilities seriously and, if we scratch beneath the surface we can find ways of getting involved with causes that matter to us, whilst putting them at the heart of our businesses for everyone’s benefit.

We can all find something we care about, and with a little thought and commitment, together we can have such an impact wherever we wish.

We’d love to hear from other small companies and learn about what you’ve done to do your bit, how you’ve managed this efficiently and effectively, without the burden of administration and without hampering cashflow.

Drop us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ed and the Rebel team x

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Micro-Living, Less - But Better
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Micro-Living, Less - But Better

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Late last year we dived into the subject of co-living in this post whilst researching for a project in Brooklyn NY. Inspired by the success and imminent expansion of Amsterdam’s Zoku hotel, we looked at the convergence of micro-living with long-stay hotels, as the long-stay hotel sector continues to innovate; partly due to the continued success of AirBnB and the opportunities that this has created for the sector.

This, coupled with housing shortages in many cities, the rising cost of living that this creates, and a rise in the number of people looking to stay away from home longer are creating opportunities to differentiate from the competition, or cash in on an increasing acceptance of smaller rooms at a lower price in desirable urban locations.

Regardless of how we look at this, everything points to only one solution at this end of the market – to go small.

Multi-Purpose Interiors.

At The London Design Festival in September, we noted several furniture and interior designers incorporating multi-purpose solutions in their work.

Other designers are following suit. For example, Graham Hill created a concept called LifeEdited2. With this concept he demonstrates two different rooms which with the help of adaptable furniture are quickly transformed into dining, lounging, sleeping and working space. Here you see the bedroom being transformed into a dining area that can seat up to ten people.

With her article, Shelby Williamsunderpins the overall rise of multi-purpose furniture in hotels by stating furniture is becoming more customisable and innovative in the way it looks & feels.

On a recent visit to New York, Ed and our partner architect Ben Masterton Smith from Transit Studio stayed in The We Company’s original WeLive in FiDI and had conflicting opinions about the experience of living in a ‘managed environment’ for anything longer than an extended stay.

“We were intrigued to look around and try out welive, one of two of wework’s foray into the co-living market. Building on their experience in the co-working sphere, the concept develops some of the language of their previous designs, but sits very much as their first in an emerging scene.” According to Ben & Ed

Nevertheless, what is in no doubt is that WeLive have successfully incorporated all the essentials of city apartment living into only a slightly extended room footprint, including the provision of separation from the main sleeping cabin and the pull out sofa bed, a small kitchen, and storage and display space. However the whole experience felt functional and efficient rather that homely and cosy.

Despite a surprisingly slow role out of only 2 properties in twelve months, the brand’s intentions are clear as we’ve seen their rooms advertised on both AirBnb and

Established Hotel Brands Enter The Micro-Hotel Market.

Major hotel groups are looking to enter this market too. Hilton recently announced the opening of their new brand, Motto by Hilton. Motto offers smaller, customisable rooms in urban locations with affordable rates. They are hoping to cash in on the holy grail of consumers, the hallowed Millennial: understanding that they will be the largest generational group in 2050 and will make up 26% of the total population.

The demand for these types of hotel rooms will not to slow down anytime soon. Jay Patel, president and CEO of North Point Hospitality, and a Hilton Hotels-owner himself, said, “Until micro-hotels, there was not a lot of lodging real estate at a premium spot in the neighbourhoods where locals and travellers congregate.”

Whilst Marriott are yet to bring an exact Micro Hotel to market, we’ve been working closely with the Moxy brand this year and they are focused on minimising the footprint whilst retaining fun, energetic and smaller spaces. They see an average stay of 2.4 nights, and maximise on space and flexibility by replacing wardrobe space with a peg wall (shown below) and adding collapsible, folding furniture for a higher degree of flexibility whilst guests spend time in their rooms.

Long-Stay Micro-Living.

Besides hotels designed for guests that embrace short stays and affordable rates, there is a growing trend in micro-living for extended stays. This is where multi-purpose interior design and furniture solutions and technology really come in to play. “Best Hotel Concept 2016” winners Zoku are competing with other emerging brands such as Pod hotels; an expanding brand that combines the micro-hotels with long-stay leases.

Their “Pod Pads” are designed as living suites, varying from 400 to 650 square feet, and include queen and bunk bed configurations. These innovative hotels prove that this micro-model is not only viable but hugely attractive. Pod Hotels boasts the highest occupancy rate across their parent company’s portfolio.

In addition to Pod Hotels, Ollie at Carmel Place created New York’s first luxury micro-apartment building. This concept serves as an all-inclusive hotel-style living apartment experience where guests can have a personalised space that is move-in ready and very designed focussed. Each furnished studio is a carefully curated space and strategically equipped with (for example) a foldable Italian coffee table from Mondial, and a queen size Murphy bed with sofa on the front.

New York based architects MKCA have been commissioned on a number of micro-apartment projects in the city, and at a talk at A/D/O in Brooklyn, we were impressed and inspired by their “Five To One” apartment which combines total flexibility and transforms a 390 sq ft space into five distinct ‘rooms’. We can see projects such as this influencing the micro-hotel and extended stay sectors in the near future.

Is the Micro-Hotel Competing With The Sharing Economy?

Keeping in mind the growing trend of the sharing economy with Airbnb and Uber on the frontline, the micro-living trend is an answer for innovative hotel groups. They are now providing a closer alternative to Airbnb by offering affordable accommodation at prime locations.

Changing demands of customers, have led to a new generation of hotels, where rooms are getting smaller and common areas are getting bigger and better. Experts are calling this change “The Air-Bnb Effect”. Airbnb has been the disruptive brand that has shaken the hospitality industry and created strong ripple effects in all related industries. But now, the hotels are ready to strike back, with implementing smaller, but better hotel rooms and bigger and better communal areas.

With 68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050 (according to the UN), prices rising and space becoming a premium, there is an obvious need to minimise space and simplify. When considered alongside the rise in flexible, remote working and the ‘digital nomad’ there are multiple innovations at play that make these sectors incredibly exciting and open to huge innovation.

The multi-purpose interior trend gives someone the possibility to take one room and turn it into a different room within minutes: making a small space so much more versatile whether it’s a permanent residence, a long stay property or just somewhere to relax during a weekend in a city’s prime neighbourhood.


Creating smart solutions for space issues is essential to the future of hotel room design and with Airbnb around the corner and consistently growing as a competitor, operators in a price conscious sector must differentiate themselves by focusing on the unique elements of a hotel that can’t be replicated in a traditional apartment. Lively, fun and accessible communal areas where guests can interact with others and share experiences are top of the list, along with consistency, quality and security that are sometimes missing from the gamble of apartment-sharing solutions such as AirBnb.

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