When LodgeWorks, a privately held hotel development and management company based in Wichita, Kan., was thinking through the concept for Archer Hotels, the inspiration was “the consummate host,” according to Cheryl Gilliam, senior vice president of brands and marketing for LodgeWorks. That inspiration became the keystone of building the upscale boutique brand and aligning the messaging across all customer-facing touchpoints.
“We can all relate to those people in our lives who have an incredible knack for hosting— be it a backyard barbecue or an overnight guest,” Gilliam says. “Our Archer is just such a host, and he brings a uniquely human touch that is unmistakable. He is the visionary and inspires everything we do at the hotel, but he prefers to stay behind the scenes.”
LodgeWorks tapped Chicago-based ideation consultant Matt Phillips of Phillips + Co to refine the Archer identity and worked closely with design team 50,000feet (also based in Chicago) to bring the creative elements to life. The result is a sophisticated and simple look that also conveys a sense of mystery. Gilliam explains that the design team took a light-handed approach to the logo design and branding throughout the on-property experience. “Archer simply wouldn’t logo everything in sight,” she says.
But the fictional persona of Archer subtly and playfully inserts himself into the overall brand experience. In each guestroom, a custom deck of playing cards touts 54 timeless tips of courtesy from the mysterious man. Gilliam calls the cards “an addendum to the employee handbook,” because they showcase best etiquette practices. If a member of the Archer team observes a guest displaying an act of kindness, courtesy, or etiquette from the deck of cards, they could receive a “Class Act” card, worth $10 to use during the guest’s stay.
Archer also engages guests by regularly posting updates on Twitter and writing a blog on the brand’s website called Archetype, which documents his favorite finds and travel experiences. For LodgeWorks, the digital space presents an opportunity for telling a consistent story in a fresh and innovative way.
“Social media is now a conversation medium. Guests, influencers, and media use it daily to communicate and find information,” Gilliam says. “As a small, independent hotel, these channels give us immediate access and entrée to engage avid travelers.”
The brand’s first hotel debuted last month in the Garment District of Manhattan. The 22-story, new-build hotel features a curated art collection, custom-designed furniture, and residential-style guestrooms with four unique design palettes. Restaurants from acclaimed chef and restaurateur David Burke include fabrick, the Bugatti Bar, and Spyglass Rooftop Bar, which offers panoramic views of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Other Archer hotels are in the works for Austin and Napa—both of which will continue to build on the brand’s message while emphasizing local experiences.
And although Archer is competing against much larger, upscale brands including Hilton and Marriott, Gilliam believes that Archer’s thoughtful brand experience will resonate with guests as the concept expands to new locations.
“While our stage is smaller, it’s thrilling to create a setting where passionate people can come together and quite literally impact a guest’s stay every day,” she says. “Those times, especially during travel, when you have a moment that inspires, surprises, or delights, it’s like air for the soul.”