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General manager aims to create a new market for hotels

Aug 01,2018
Kim Bum-soo
How a hotel can be competitive and different are the two things that Shinsegae Chosun Hotel took into consideration when it decided to open its boutique hotel L’Escape. The company decided to go with being “approachable” with prices and “appealing” with style, according to Kim Bum-soo, general manager of the new hotel.

“We wanted the hotel to be able to properly present the culture that modern Koreans enjoy, as well as to accept new international influences,” said Kim. “We aim to get rid of the uniform service available at any hotel [in Korea] and create a new cultural platform because many locals have experienced hospitality overseas.”

Although the goal is making something that wasn’t available to customers before, the hotel aims to keep its low prices to appeal to a wide range of customers. Kim believes that room for new content may open up when the hotel offers top notch service at more affordable prices.

“The dream I have for this hotel is that it becomes known as a ‘hot place’ of the moment and people will want to come check it out themselves rather than as a hotel with [just] a four- or five-star rating,” said Kim. “We are a new hotel and we need to find our [unique] way of communicating and attracting new customers.”

Pinpointing what’s available globally but not yet locally comes from his years of experience running a blog on portal website Naver. Kim, who is known to many foodies in Korea as Pat2bach, the name of his blog, has learned that providing a new vision and direction can excite people.

He has brought talent from all around the world to participate in making the hotel, as some industry experts have noted that the hotel is like a magnet for aspiring food and beverage talent.

Pastry chef Kim Ji-ho of The Modern will collaborate regularly with the hotel to come up with the dishes and Cho Hyun-cheol, this year’s winner of the Sopexa’s annual sommelier competition has also been recruited by the hotel.

The company plans to open five more hotels under its independent arm in the next five years, preferably simpler hotels than L’Escape, and is expected to be similar to Hotel Shilla’s business hotel Shilla Stay and Lotte Hotel’s casual and young L7.

“We aim to create a new market, not to find balance with another one,” said Kim, adding that the Westin Chosun Seoul and L’Escape will strive to be the best in different categories.

“The target customer for us is someone that enjoys trying new things - things they would like to experience after seeing them on social media.”

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]