EP #24 – Succeeding In Urban Neighborhoods, with Imran Jivani

Imran Jivani joins Susan Pannozzo on Hospitality Academy to talk about operating a boutique hotel in an urban neighbhorhood, and why it's capitalizing on a growing trend.One of the latest trends in hotel management is fulfilling guests’ desires for an authentic and “locals” type experience. Couple that with the growing popularity of AirBnB, some hotels are moving into and investing in urban neighborhoods.

I could think of no one better to speak to this topic than Imran Jivani of Hotel Chicago – Illinois Medical District.

On this episode of Hospitality Academy, Imran joins us to talk about how his boutique hotel has capitalized on this growing trend, some of the creative ways they’ve built awareness of their establishment and how any hotel of any size can also provide an authentic experience for their guests.

Essential Learning Points From This Episode:

  • What are the advantages of their hotel versus AirBnB and major chains?
  • Why their tagline is “less to stay means more to play”.
  • How they build retention and relationships with their guests.
  • What are some of the clever ways they have promoted their hotel?
  • What technology options are available for independent hotels?
  • And so much more!

Imran Jivani has been in the hospitality industry for 20 years. His career has spanned his humble beginnings as a banquet aisle man at the age of 16 to opening, operating and repositioning a variety of hotels, leading to his present position as General Manager at Hotel Chicago – Illinois Medical District. Along the way, he became an expert in guest engagement, revenue management, and team member development. He also has a strong financial acumen.

Recently his expertise has expanded to include understanding the unique positioning of boutique hotels in urban neighborhoods. The Hotel Chicago – Illinois Medical District is a boutique hotel located in a less commercial/more residential neighborhood of Chicago. His hotel often attracts guests who might otherwise book with Airbnb.

Guests are attracted to the value-based stay. In fact, the tagline of Hotel Chicago – Illinois Medical District is “Less to stay means more to play.” And the hotel keeps this promise by offering 185 square foot rooms equipped with a microwave and full fridge, which in turn allows the hotel to operate without food and beverage services.

[ctt title=”Less to Stay, Means More to Play!” tweet=”Less to Stay, Means More to Play! @hotelchicagoIMD @HospAcademy” coverup=”2upcd”]The hotel serves the medical district community: Rush, UIC, the local VA Hospital and Cook County General. Because of their location, they have focused on providing stellar service to all of their guests, including visiting doctors and other medical staff.

Imran says one of the keys to their success has been their design. They have followed the European-style boutique example by offering smaller rooms and more service-oriented staff members who are focused on providing a positive, friendly interaction with all of their visiting guests.

On today’s episode of Hospitality Academy, Imran also discusses other advantages of his hotel. He explains that his hotel is very involved with their guests and they strive to create experiences as opposed to transactions.

But their level of service and individual interaction can be offered by any hotel, large or small or somewhere in-between. He believes a lot of the chains and other hotels don’t simply because they are stuck in a rut: a simple shaking off of the cobwebs and a commitment to positive, healthy change can make the difference and take a hotel from ordinary to extraordinary in their guests’ eyes.

Also on this episode of Hospitality Academy, Imran shares his management company’s core values and why they have been integral to Hotel Chicago – Illinois Medical District’s success. Those core values include always being incredibly friendly and positive, serving and respecting one another, being smart about their business and enthusiastically reimagining and innovating the business.

Imran also shares technical advice on what CRM they use and why, as well as his advice for anyone opening or renovating their boutique hotel. Listen in for that and more on today’s Hospitality Academy.

Important Links & Mentions From This Episode:

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