Talk About Hospitality speaks with Claudia Foecking, the founder of Hummingbird Australia – a unique brand seeking to revolutionise how high-end hospitality brands leave a lasting impression on their guests…
Talk About Hospitality: Tell us more about the concept for Hummingbird Australia?
Claudia: I help high-end hotels to enhance their relationship with their most valued guests by creating custom sleepwear, which can take the form of pyjamas, kaftans or kimonos that resonate with the heritage of each hotel. We do so by understanding the hotels brand positioning and observing its standout features. Standout features could include the hotels artwork and interior design, or even local flora and fauna specific to its location. Our team consists of passionate and creative artists that custom design beautiful abstract print patterns. My role as founder is to work closely with the hotel and guide them through the decision making process in order to produce a print pattern and design that best represents the hotels heritage.
Pictured: The Hummingbird Australia design process – example
Talk About Hospitality: How did you come up with the idea?
Claudia: Oh, this is an interesting one! In my early twenties, while working and studying across Australia and China, I spent a lot of time developing different businesses. Prior to Hummingbird, I was working on two different ventures; the first, an hourly interior design service specifically targeting coffee shop owners in Melbourne and the second, a branded merchandising business for high-end financial planners. I most definitively enjoyed the creativity involved in the first venture, and learnt a lot about analysing the interiors of different venues and understanding the frustrations of coffee shop owners trying to bring their brand to life on a budget. The idea for my second venture emerged when I was working both within the financial planning industry as a support staff to advisors and externally, as a financial services recruiter. What I found was that a lot of financial planning firms were lacking quality branded merchandise that could enhance their brand image and make them standout amongst their competitors. The branded products I produced included golf balls, fridge magnets and leather diaries.
It was my trip to Tulum, Mexico however, that sparked my idea for what is now Hummingbird Australia. It all began on my last day in Tulum when I picked up a Spanish magazine and read about a Mexican designer who was collaborating with high-end hotels in Mexico to design resort merchandise that was in true alignment with their brand. I immediately resonated with the idea, as it was somewhat similar to the work I did in my second venture designing branded merchandise for financial planners. The idea of partnering with high-end hotels, however, had never crossed my mind until then and I was immediately attracted to it. I knew that if I didn’t go out and create something of value for high-end hotels, then this idea would not leave my mind. So, instead of going home to Germany over the Christmas break to spend time with my family, I headed up north to Byron Bay, to map out the idea for what would soon become Hummingbird Australia.
Talk About Hospitality: How do you envision that the company can make a real difference to the service provided by hotels and the relationships built with hotel guests?
Claudia: By gifting their guests with signature sleepwear to wear both during their stay and to take home afterwards, hotels will have the opportunity to establish a more intimate relationship with their guests. Through this act of kindness, hotel guests will inevitably feel more connected and valued by the hotel as they feel special and taken care of.
The beauty about stocking custom sleepwear in your hotel room is that it’s a tangible item that creates cherished memories and that guests are allowed to take home. This makes the in-room experience for the guest so much better than bringing home branded toiletries, plus it gets the guest taking about hotel when being asked where they got it. This is also our secret recipe to help hotels minimise their turnover of stolen robes. It’s really a win-win for both the hotel operators and the guests.
We are helping hotels express their brand identity through an innovative medium and help them raise their social profile which allows the hotel to indirectly market themselves and influence future buyer decisions. Signature sleepwear gets the guest taking about the hotel in quite a joyous way – many become your volunteer social media marker by posting perfectly chosen pictures on their profile – tagging in your hotel. Now not only have you made your guests smile and scored a volunteer social media post, you are also on path of getting many eyeballs from potential guests. People rarely make snap yes or no decisions, rather they think ‘hmm, that looks like an interesting hotel to stay at’ or a ‘hey, maybe I should find out more about this’ in a gradual move to a buying decision which is what hotel operators should strive for, considering the competition in the hotel market is at all-time high.
I believe that many people are really prepared to pay extra for something special but if they don’t really see it the pressure comes onto the price of the rooms…so we are stepping in to alleviate the pressure and help hotels deliver on their promise of creating a great customer experience by caring for the guests and anticipating their needs. If you channel this into your brand it will add something that’s unique and special.
One must stand out in order to thrive in such a constantly growing market. Our aim is to really draw attention to the hotel by evoking a breeze of curiosity, obviously in quite an effortless way, by introducing signature sleepwear, instead of saying ‘hey you, come and stay with us and be offered breakfast for free.’
Talk About Hospitality: What are your key goals for the company in the next 1-5 years?
Claudia: Hummingbird Australia was created with the ambition of becoming the go-to for high-end hotels looking to build a more intimate relationship with their guests and build stronger brand awareness through custom art-infused sleepwear. In the next five years, we look to achieve this and bring a Five-Star Airline on board, helping them deliver on their promise to create an in-flight experience for business and first class passengers that is second to none.
Talk About Hospitality: You have expressed interest in coming to Dubai to take part in The Hotel Show. Why is The Hotel Show and its UAE location an area of interest for you when launching the company?
Claudia: The Hotel Show and its UAE location is specifically of interest to me as it is by far the regions largest and most prestigious hospitality event bringing together a selection of the world’s most elite players in the industry. The Hotel Show itself provides a 360 -degree view of the hotel market catering to every element of the guest experience – we really see ourselves as that additional element that helps your hotel brand stand out and create a special guest experience.
Dubai as a location is of interest as it is the epicentre of hospitality in the Middle East and its diverse and vibrant hospitality sector is among top global performers while being home to some of the top performing hotel brands. Dubai is going to remain a strong market hotel wise with its recent additions to tourism attractions such as Dubai Safari, IMG World and Bluewaters Island will ultimately help drive the growth of tourism and the need for accommodation overall.
On a personal note I visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi countless times when travelling back to Germany and truly enjoy seeing both cities advance so much year on year.