It was exciting to see the end result last week of years of preparations and planning, followed by months of putting in long hours working on the hotel’s pre-opening. And to say the least, the Qbic London City Hotel has come out to be amazing …
The Qbic concept is a unique in many ways answering the needs of today’s world. It solves problems which hotel businesses, travelers and destinations are dealing with on a continuous basis.
For a business to be successful it should be solving a challenging problem. Differentiate your concept by solving a problem your competition is not addressing. This will truly make you stand out from the pack and give you a unique story to build the success of your brand around.
Qbic Hotels took this approach a bit further. It actually decided more than one problem the hotel industry is facing; it addressed issues concerning real estate, economic downturn, traveler needs, and hotel business inefficiencies.
Yes they set the BAR high for themselves, looking to create a new standard.
Here a list of common problems in the hotel industry they set out to solve:
- Underutilized commercial real estate
- High construction costs
- Long construction lead time
- Inefficient use of space
- High personnel and operations costs
- Cash flow challenges
- High quality comfort tends to be expensive
Underutilized Commercial Real Estate
Over the last decade many office buildings and other commercial projects have been developed in cities all over the world. Unfortunately due to the current economic climate many of these properties are not fully occupied or even empty. Qbic has developed a plug and play concept that can easily move into these vacant buildings, and requiring new build.
In London Qbic moved into an empty office building and converted it into a hotel right next to the business district of London City. And in Amsterdam Qbic is actually taking within an operating office complex, the World Trade Center, renting a few floors.
This conversion approach is becoming a very viable solution for owners of underutilized commercial real estate offering clear value.
High Construction Cost & Long Lead Time
The build-out of a hotel or conversion of a building is usually a lengthy process lasting from anywhere between 1 or 2 years. During this period a lot of costs are accrued, which will need to be written once the hotel has opened.
So it is essential key to keep construction time to a minimum and costs very much controlled.
Qbic has developed a plug and play room module, which significantly pushes back the construction time and cost. The pod unit, called Cubi, is pre-fabricated in China and shipped to the construction site. It is assembled inside the room. All you need is four walls and plumbing and electricity to plug into.
Here a video of the assembly of the Cubi: http://youtu.be/egrEDPM2wMY
The development of Qbic London City took only 6 months and stayed within the original cost budget. This is quite unique for our industry. Qbic Amsterdam WTC increased its capacity from 55 to 88 rooms (simply renting another floor) within just 1 month.
Again another important challenge new hotel development generally faces has been tackled.
Inefficient Use of Space
Using the Cubi module, we were able to reduce room size by 20% without the guest feeling cramped. The unit combines both the bed, TV, lighting and bathroom, requiring less space for a room. And the stylish design of the Cubi, adds to the uniqueness of the Qbic experience.
The lobby space is also smaller as due to the use of check-in machines a large reception desk is not needed.
To summarize, the Qbic concept can get more rooms out of a building, and still deliver a high quality and unmatched experience.
High Personal and Operation Cost
‘The Best Service is Self Service’, I would not be able to explain it better, hence a quote by the man behind the Qbic concept, Paul Rinkens.
People do not care if they have to go get something themselves. Actually they probably prefer to get refreshments themselves, rather than an unhandy and moody waiter serving them and overpriced drink or snack, potentially after a bit of a long wait as well.
What consumers are after is a quality experience at a good price.
Qbic is an efficient hotel all-round. The low cost hotel uses self check-in machines, coffee machines and vending machines on the guest floors (instead of in rooms), vending machines for drinks and healthy snacks in the lounge.
All food and beverage products are locally sourced and are of good standard. The price is much lower than you would normally pay in a hotel, so getting it yourself by swiping your credit card is a trade off our guests wholeheartedly welcome.
To run the operations of a 200 room hotel we only need 2 FTE’s per shift, plus a manager responsible for the overall property. Housekeeping is outsourced and works on a cost per cleaned room basis.
Unhealthy Cash Flow
A classic challenge we have been facing in the hotel industry for decade. Payment terms of 30, 60, 90 days or worse, are not healthy for any business.
Hence at Qbic Hotels all reservations are pre-paid. Just imagine, you launch a marketing campaign today, and reservations start coming in immediately and are paid for at time of booking
You actually have money coming into your accounts before you even have to pay your supplier invoices and payroll.
Affordable High Quality Comfort
Great, so we save a lot of cost. We could put it all in our pockets. But we would only end up with a boring stripped down hotel concept.
Wrong. You still have to offer a great value proposition. Part of the cost savings from construction and operations efficiencies are used to create the unique Qbic experience.
The Qbic concept offers the following basics that travelers are really looking for in a hotel:
- Perfect Bed
- Perfect Shower
- Soundless Room
- Immaculate Cleanliness
- Free Wifi
For the beds king-size mattresses from NaturalMat, all made from natural materials, are used. You will enjoy a night sleep at Qbic most will not even get at home. It’s a key value proposition of this low cost hotel concept.
Special wooden flooring, insulation and uniquely manufactured doors ensure for a sound proof room, also adding to an undisturbed night sleep. And in the bathroom you will find a large rain-shower to set-off your day on the right note.
It is seldom I sleep the entire night in a hotel, without waking up. The super comfy bed at Qbic did the trick for me however. Heads off to this smart investment!
And as they say, the Lounge is nothing like home. A comfortable living room built around a fire place and large cooking isle, which serves as the breakfast buffet. The carefully picked mash-up of furniture and decoration creates a cozy setting, in which after 8 hours of working I still felt at very much at ease.
Qbic Hotels is a very exciting project for Xotels to work on. We get the opportunity to challenge any industry dogma or ‘standard’. We have just recently launched a £1 promotion, offering 450 rooms at just £1 to create brand awareness for the newly opened Qbic Hotel London City.
I hope this article will help when you are thinking of developing a new hotel concept. You should really go beyond a nice looking concept and challenge the status quo if you want to have a blazing success.