Inside Kimpton's New In-Room Social Experiment

The hotel brand has created a number of guest-room activations to study human nature and foster a sense of community.

By Claire Hoffman September 26, 2018, 7:02 AM EDT

Kimpton collaborated with Los Angeles-based artist Colette Miller, founder of the Global Angel Wings Project, to create a custom mural for the room.

Photo: Courtesy of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants

Event planners have long understood the power of human connections and shared experiences—and now hotels are getting on board, too. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has launched what it's calling a “social experiment” to create meaningful interactions and authentic connections between guests.

Dubbed “Room 301,” the program is taking place mainly at the Kimpton Everly Hotel in Los Angeles, with additional activations at select hotels around the country. Guests who choose to book the experience will encounter a variety of interactive, thought-provoking in-room activities for the length of their stay. 

“We’ve always believed that commonalities and connections exist between all people—no matter their background or life story. Room 301 was inspired by that belief,” says Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “We wanted to come up with a special space that was programmed from corner to corner with activities meant to spark human connection and self-awareness.”

The experiment is an extension of the brand’s ongoing “Stay Human” campaign, which focuses on the need for authenticity in a technology-driven world. It opened on September 6 and runs through November 30. Guests who choose to stay in the room get 15 percent off the normal rate with a complimentary upgrade to a Hollywood Hills King Room and a view of the Hollywood sign. Also, $10 per night is donated to a nonprofit; guests can choose between either the Trevor Project or No Kid Hungry.

At the end of the three-month run, Kimpton will assess and share results of the experiment. “The choices our guests make will help us gain better insight into their experiences, aspirations, and values,” explains Reidenbach. “We hope to learn more about our guests and use this knowledge to inspire the way we’ll continue to build community at our hotels and restaurants.”

“We hope to learn more about our guests and use this knowledge to inspire the way we’ll continue to build community at our hotels and restaurants.”

So, what can guests expect in Room 301? First of all, the room has a special design, with a photo-friendly mural and neon signage. There’s also a Spotify-driven playlist, where guests can add their favorite songs; a Polaroid camera, where guests are encouraged to take selfies and write down their moods at various times of the day; and a “community confessions” wall, where guests can grab a marker and write down their secrets—anonymously—on a wall of the suite. There’s also an activity where guests write down their biggest vice and bring it to the bartender at the hotel’s Ever Bar. The bartender will then create a cocktail that reflects that vice.

Another aspect of the suite aims to study human nature: Guests will be given a certificate for 10,000 IGH Rewards Club points, which can be redeemed for hotel stays, experiences, merchandise, or other perks. They can then choose to keep the gift for themselves or give it to someone else. “The options of who they can gift to will vary throughout the experiment,” says Reidenbach. “Kimpton is interested to see whether the recipient—and whether or not the guest knows the recipient—will affect the choices.”

Kimpton chose Los Angeles because the year-old Kimpton Everly fit the vibe it was looking for. “The Kimpton Everly Hotel is a great example of the brand’s direction moving forward—it’s stylish with a laid-back approach to luxury,” she says, adding that the city draws a diverse mix of people, from business travelers to tourists, single people to families. “It’s important for us that the guests in Room 301 represent all different backgrounds.”

Beyond Los Angeles, the project will have smaller extensions at hotels in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Portland, Nashville, and Chicago. Activities in those hotels include postcard-writing stations, where guests can send hand-written notes home to loved ones, as well as guest-curated playlists and a greenery-filled suite designed for relaxation.

Reidenbach thinks that focusing on human connections is a natural fit for a hotel brand. “Hospitality is defined by the people behind it and the heartfelt service they provide to one another and to our guests,” she says. “The hospitality industry tends to focus on the latest technological innovations and with that, there can be a disconnect with the human experience. We know there’s a place for technology in our hotels but believe that meaningful human connections are what bring people back and spark a true relationship with our brand. That’s something technology can never replace.”

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