The ‘group-friendly alternative’: Q&A with Philip Bates, CEO at Bode

BHN spoke to Philip Bates, CEO at Bode – a “new kind of hotel” – about how the brand aims to revolutionise group travel, and what the group looks for in new outposts.

What is Bode? Where did the idea come from? And how does it appeal to a boutique audience?

“Bode aims to serve the group lifestyle traveler – those traveling in parties of three or more for whatever the occasion, who covet local experiences and connectivity above all else. The idea stems from how we at Bode like to travel – which is increasingly in groups – whether that be family, friends, or colleagues. Splitting out into multiple hotel rooms was not only inefficient from a cost perspective but also meant sacrificing the together-time we desired”.

“Alternative accommodations, like Airbnb, often felt like a shot in the dark and left us missing the social spaces to mingle with other travellers, walkable locations, and local artisanal amenities that our favourite boutique hotel brands offered. Bode appeals to guests who favour lifestyle brands by marrying group-centric floor plans and everyone’s favourite boutique hotel features”. 

What is it that you’re doing that’s “unlike anywhere else”?

“In the most straightforward terms, Bode is a unique lodging hybrid, meticulously conceived to combine the best aspects of short-term vacation rental with traditional hospitality and boutique hotel touches. There are a few brands that solve the issues of inconsistency in short-term rental units, but oftentimes, these operators run short-term rentals in the same building as long-term residences, and much of the social and service elements a good boutique hotel offers are lost”.

“At Bode, we always operate the entire property and because of this, we’re able to create something truly distinct for our guests and the local communities. For example, every Bode is anchored by a social Hub where you’ll always find a cafe serving up locally roasted coffee, a market full of local craft products, a bar, and maybe even poker tables, ping pong, or a vintage truck customised to be the perfect tailgating spot”. 

How are you “revolutionising group travel”?

“Creating the best possible experience for group-lifestyle travellers is the compass by which we make all of our decisions. From the design of our spaces to our bar games and programming – it’s all to create a seamless and memorable experience for those traveling in groups”.

“Using technology, we’ve also tailored our processes from booking to check-out to allow for stress-free coordination between friends and family members travelling together. For example, when you book with Bode, we collect all of your guests’ mobile numbers and share confirmations and communication points with the entire group. On arrival day, we’ll automatically text message each group member a personalised key code for accessing your shared Bode the moment it’s marked ready by our housekeeping team, eliminating the need for one member to become the travel coordinator for the trip”.

How is the choice of destination tied to your demographic?

“Bode’s guests are worldly, educated, young-at-heart, and value having authentic experiences and building meaningful connections when they travel. For this reason, Bode will never be an all-inclusive resort, or place its guests in the midst of tourists traps they cannot escape. The destinations we choose are dynamic and offer endless opportunities to experience the city’s culture, crafts, and history. The destinations we choose are equally as important (and celebrated) as the property itself”.

What do you require from a building?

“In the long term, Bode will be a mix of conversions and new builds, as determined by the opportunity to secure ideal, dynamic locations for the brand’s customers to experience the best in each marketplace”.

“The first two Bode properties – located in Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee – are both conversions of unique, existing properties, which felt important to immerse travellers in the middle of up-and-coming neighbourhoods in these historic cities. Coming-soon properties in Palm Springs and Indian Wells, California, will be new construction, suited to the modern, desert aesthetic of these locations”. 

“The key is developing something that feels truly curated to each place, so that people can come and share in it and feel more like locals, less like tourists. To ensure this is achieved and that we’re able to cater to our target market of group-lifestyle travellers, the most important elements are location and the ability to transform or create floor plans and social spaces that are flexible enough to meet the needs of any group”.  

What does your pipeline look like for 2020?

“In 2020, we’ll be hard at work for our 2021 openings in Palm Springs, CA, Indian Wells, CA, Savannah, GA, and Greenville, SC. We also have a few surprise locations in the works. We’re thrilled to be bringing Bode to such an exciting array of cities and changing the way groups travel”.

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