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411: How citizenM Hotels are Disrupting the Hospitality Industry with Chief Marketing Officer Robin Chadha

In this episode, Alan and Robin discuss his path from Wall Street to citizenM, their focus on affordable luxury, the innovations they are bringing to the hospitality industry, and who they are working to serve. Robin also tells us about their unique citizensOf campaign and how it is helping them integrate into communities, as well as their partnership with World Bicycle Relief and how they encourage their guests to participate in impactful ESG initiatives. 

Robin Chadha is the Amsterdam-based Chief Marketing Officer of citizenM, where he leads the Brand & Communications team. Robin is half Indian, half Dutch, and was educated in American schools his entire life, giving him a deep understanding and appreciation for different cultures from a young age. He spent his first year after graduation on the floor of the NYSE and did another year in the offices, but knew it wasn’t the place for him. He made the move into fashion by joining Tommy Hilfiger in New York, where he fell in love with the industry. He then moved back to the Netherlands to join his father’s fashion company, Mexx, but left shortly after it was sold to Liz Claiborne. In 2005, Robin entered hospitality by launching Rain, a unique design-led food and drink experience venue in Amsterdam. Robin has always had a passion for travel, so he sold Rain in 2008 to join the budding citizenM team, where he has since been responsible for growing citizenM into the worldwide, distinctly recognizable hotel and lifestyle brand it is today.

citizenM was founded by Robin’s father, Rattan Chadha, and opened its first hotel at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in 2008. When Rattan ran Mexx, he saw his designers traveling the world unable to find affordable luxury hotels to stay in, so they became the pioneers in affordable luxury with a focus on emotional connections, efficiencies, and experiences. Today, citizenM owns and operates 30 hotels in most major cities across the world. They focus on Bleisure travelers that are blending business and leisure, leverage their citizenOf campaign to overcome issues when integrating into new cities, and maintain impressive ESG and charity initiatives to encourage their guests to improve the world citizenM is helping them experience. 

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • The market gap citizenM was created to fill, and what a Bleisure Traveler is 
  • The creative citizenOf campaigns being used to launch new locations 
  • How citizenM inspires their guests to participate in ESG and charitable giving initiatives 

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Key Highlights:

  • [01:50] Polar opposites in travel, from Thailand to Dubai
  • [03:40] From Wall Street, to fashion, to founder, to here
  • [07:45] Similarities between fashion and hospitality
  • [08:50] The idea behind citizenM Hotels
  • [11:55] daring to disrupt and gain ground 
  • [14:45] 4 pillars it’s all built on 
  • [16:30] What is “Bleisure”?
  • [19:05] citizensOf Campaign 
  • [26:15] citizenMovement initiative 
  • [30:40] The impact of growing up in three distinct cultures 
  • [33:00] Advice to his younger self
  • [33:30] What AI cannot do and what we do with data
  • [35:10] Art and fashion trends 
  • [36:20] Positives and negatives with an abundance of global channels and 

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