In June, Allison Reid became the chief development officer for the Americas region of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which she says “continues to have a specific position within the lodging industry as—arguably—the first boutique hotel.” She recently shared with LODGING the special appeal of this brand, which she says enables its properties to be unique within Kimpton standards in response to what guests want today. “They want to know a hotel is part of the community, part of the local vibe, not a standard box where they could wake up in any city and not know where they are.”
Having previously headed development and acquisition in North America for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, what are the challenges you anticipate in your new position at Kimpton?
I’ve found there are more opportunities than challenges at Kimpton. Since I started in this position, I’ve come to appreciate even more its proven value proposition and its unique appeal to owners and developers. Kimpton is a brand that owners are interested in because of its broad customer appeal, approachable luxury design, and flexible programming. The brand has great design aesthetics and a full product offering whose impact I am increasingly impressed with. I see a long runway for growth. Additionally—and I didn’t have a full sense of this until I got here—the reason the company acts like an owner and developer is because they were originally structured in that manner, so it’s in everyone’s DNA to think like an owner and developer, which makes my job on the development team much clearer.
Can you describe what makes up “Kimpton’s empowered company culture”?
Kimpton’s empowered company culture is unique in the industry. We have a people-first mentality, believing if you get the people side of the equation right, everything else will follow. The culture is very heartfelt. Employees are empowered to do what it takes to fulfill and anticipate guests’ wants and needs. I see it on a daily basis here in the San Francisco home office, but I also saw it first-hand when I checked into a hotel in Los Angeles after midnight. After asking where I’d come in from, the front desk associate knew instinctively that I’d want to get to my room quickly, but also that I was probably hungry and might want something light or different from what was on the menu. After a long flight from New York, she knew what I needed more than I did!
What kinds of developers are signing on to build Kimpton properties?
In the short time I’ve been here, I can say that the owner group spans the industry. We have entrepreneurs, investment-grade capital, traditional owners and developers of hotels, and mixed-use developers interested in opening Kimpton properties. Kimpton appeals to developers who want a return on their investment and recognize that design and concepting—whether in the restaurant or programming—drives return. They’re also interested in the halo effect of what the hotel and restaurant will bring to the surrounding community and surrounding buildings. We’ve been lucky to have longstanding relationships with diverse ownership groups. We hope to open the door to prospective new developers who are interested in being a true partner and exploring what Kimpton can deliver to their portfolio, that is, great boutique experiences that are grounded in authentic and personal connections.
What do you like best about working in the hotel industry?
What I like best is that every day is something new. It’s a fast-paced environment that’s diverse both in the people you meet and the experiences you have. I’ve been in it for close to 30 years, and I haven’t had a single day that was the same as the day before. One day, I can be learning something new from a front desk associate and the next day I could be talking to a king or a Wall Street investor with $100 million to invest in a hotel product. At the end of the day, people are people regardless of geographic, economic, and socioeconomic differences, and you can learn something different and unique working in this industry that you don’t get in other industries.