Q + A: Timothy Griffin, The Hoxton
Timothy Griffin is Director of North America for The Hoxton, an immersive and unique hotel and hospitality brand. Since its inception in 2006, The Hoxton has grown from a single hotel into an international hospitality brand and community. The company plans to expand into NYC, Paris, Southwark and Chicago within the next few years. This October, Timothy will be speaking on our “#NoFilter Forum” panel at The Independent Lodging Congress, helping us explore how social media is shifting the way Indies build relationships with both their guests and the neighborhoods they inhabit.
Hospitality runs through Timothy’s veins. Having been with the company for five years and serving as General Manager of The Hoxton, Shoreditch before that, Timothy has been with The Hoxton since the beginning of its evolution. In the midst of working towards the company’s world-takeover, Timothy chatted with us about his jump into hotel branding and PR, ‘The Hoxton Hustle,’ and what company’s Instagram he’s just dying to curate.
You graduated with a BA in Hospitality Management, and held the role of Brand Director at The Hoxton — what got you interested in branding and PR?
As a child I loved staying in hotels with my family, and enjoyed my weekend job in an hotel whilst studying. When the time came to choose what to study at degree level, I planned to study law, however a friend told me about hospitality management — and made the decision to do more with hotels than just stay in them. In my role as General Manager at The Hoxton, Shoreditch in London I was responsible for the entire business including the hotel branding and PR. When Ennismore began to scale the business, with the opening of our second and third hotels in Holborn and Amsterdam, I was asked to head up our Branding team responsible for the all aspects of The Hoxton brand from partnerships, PR, social media, digital, retail, graphic design and events. It’s been a great opportunity for me to work with such a talented team and see at close hand the way guests and locals alike connect with The Hoxton whether it’s through Hoxtown, our events series, or on social media or through our hotel design.
You’re now Director of North America for The Hoxton . What is one of the most difficult challenges you’ve encountered at the independent hotel company?
Having opened The Hoxton, Shoreditch 10 years ago and The Hoxton, Holborn in 2014, we know our London neighbourhoods very well and have built up a loyal following of fans, not only those who stay but those who use our hotels daily. We’ve managed to create vibrant, buzzing public spaces, where people flock whether they are meeting, eating, drinking or working. We like it call it ‘The Hoxton Hustle’. However, Amsterdam was out first hotel outside of London, in a neighbourhood we loved, but didn’t know so well. A city where historically people have never really hung out in hotel lobbies and to launch successfully we needed to change the perception of how hotels are used. Many months before opening we began forming relationships with key influencers and brands, seeding stories in the press as well as hosting influencers in our London hotels. This was followed up with a condensed Hoxtown series of events, spanning various industries which insured we reached a wide audience and we were delighted by the warm welcome we received. As such , just a few days after opening our doors, The Hoxton, Amsterdam felt like it had been a part of the Amsterdam scene for years and every day we see that same Hoxton Hustle in the lobby. We’re looking forward to getting to know our new neighbours in Williamsburg and becoming part of what makes it such a great neighbourhood — not just another new hotel.
How has your previous role as General Manager of The Hoxton given you better insight into how to tell the brand’s story?
As General Manager, and having been with The Hoxton for five years, I’ve been very close to the brand’s evolution. What makes a hotel brand to be proud of isn’t just signature marketing activities, it’s the many small details our guests encounter every day from the smallest design detail in our bedrooms to engaging graphic design, an intuitive website, lobbies you want to spend your entire day in, and the people you meet who love what they do.
Quick! Give us three adjectives you would use to describe The Hoxton’s brand identity.
Immersed, Inclusive, Imaginative
In your opinion, what makes an outstanding independent hotel?
For me, an outstanding hotel is one that says something about the people using it — a place that shares their values; good quality, good value and good times.
You will be speaking on our “#NoFilter Forum” panel this October which will cover social media marketing in the hospitality industry. Social media marketing is a MUST for any company today. What do you think are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of this strategy in terms of marketing for independent hotels?
The biggest advantage of using social media to market your hotel is that it’s basically a free tool you can use to speak to your customers and engage in what your customers are saying about you. It allows you to speak direct with your guests in real time, show your brand personality and builds brand awareness with potential customers too. It’s a great way to get a message into the public domain and to keep your customers updated with news and offers without sending multiple intrusive marketing emails.
The biggest disadvantage is when things might not go to plan, and someone comments on social media — it’s effectively in the public domain which can encourage others to ‘piggy back’ . If an issue is raised at the hotel, the hotel has the opportunity to put it right then and there. However, when handled effectively, any negativity on social media can be changed into a positive and there’s lots of great examples of brands who have managed to do so.
If you could be a social media influencer or brand ambassador for any brand other than Hoxton, which would it be and why?
The Matchabar on Wythe Avenue. I’d love testing all of their matcha products, curating their green insta feed and being part of the Matchabar fam.