Travel trends and accommodation expectations are constantly evolving. The millennials of today are digitally savvy and constantly on social media. COO aims to be Singapore’s first “sociatel”, a design hostel that encourages social interaction and tries to bring together like-minded travellers who are passionate about gaining local insights for a more fruitful and interactive getaway.
To find out more about the needs of the millennial traveller and how that translates into the design of COO, we met up with Founder and Director of Ministry of Design, Colin Seah.
1. COO is the first “sociatel” in Singapore. Tell us more about it.
- Colin Seah (CS): “COO is our first boutique hostel project (68 beds over 4 floors), with a casual 60-seater bistro on the ground floor, opened for bookings in August 2016, with official launch in Dec 2016. It has just been awarded Winner for “Visual Identity of the Year” by Ahead Asia, prestigious hospitality awards organised by Sleeper Hospitality Magazine, London, for the way its branding spoke clearly to its target audience of millennial travellers.
We recognise that Millennials want a meaningful getaway, where active experience trumps passive consumption. They want value, authenticity and constant connection. Hence the term ‘Societal’, whose brand DNA of glocal, social, playful are evident throughout the entire COO experience. So all in all, its a great social hospitality experience with edgy witty graphics, hip bistro and integrated digital platform, all for starting price of S$44++ a night.”
2. What do you think are the needs of the millennial traveller and how has it changed through the years?
CS: “The main traits of a millennial traveler are: curious, open and ever-evolving. Personally, I think “millennialism” isn’t relegated to an age group alone… its more a state of mind – you can have 20 year old millennials as well as 70 year old ones.”
3. What are the biggest travel trends among the millennial crowd and how does COO cater to them?
CS: “The traveller today lives in two overlapping worlds. The virtual, through mobile technology, and the physical, through great space. We simply created a brand experience that straddles both worlds seamlessly into one holistic experience. Most hospitality experiences still think about these two worlds separately.”
4. Why did you think there was a need for COO?
CS: “Imagine you are a solo traveller in a foreign land with limited local insights, other than the usual standard run-of-the-mill well-publicised tourist attractions. We wanted a platform whereby travellers could share their experience and knowledge in the most friendly and communal environment. Many of the “new-age” hostels focus on the aesthetics and creature comfort and has become boutique hotel-like.
On the other hand, the plain-vanilla low cost hostel has fallen behind in terms of travellers’ expectation of a clean & comfortable accommodation. We aspire to combine these two components, communal vibe and a well-designed space, to give the travellers an enriched experience.”
5. How is COO different from a boutique hotel?
CS: “Since it’s aimed at the millennials, we’ve introduced what we believe to be a world’s first: COO Connect, a digital interest-matching tool aimed at connecting like-minded hostel guests. That means, guests can book, login & chat with guests who have the same overlapping dates and the same top 5 matching interests, and maybe, check out live music or a new restaurant or explore Tiong Bahru neighbourhood together. In essence, it’s engaging people physically and digitally.”
6. How does the design reflect Tiong Bahru?
CS: “The entire COO experience is about celebrating the local neighbourhood and the spaces, graphics and collateral we’ve designed reflect that – from the custom wallpaper which is a collage of historic or abstracted characteristics of the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood; to the key feature art installation of the Tiong Bahru map created in neon.”
7. What are some of the best hotels and accommodations anywhere in the world for millennials in your books?
CS: “Generator (Europe) and 25 hours (Japan) do it well!”