Melle Bos – The Student Hotel

Melle Bos – The Student Hotel

Melle Bos is the former Global Brand & Communication Director at The Student Hotel. He is responsible for leading brand management, brand communications, content and strategic innovation across The Student Hotel and its brands TSH Collab, The Commons & BedTalks. The Student Hotel wants to create a community for people from all backgrounds. Melle: “We focus on students who are going to study abroad, but also on hotel guests, freelancers and people who want to work in a flexible way. But locals are also an important target group. We want our hotels to give back to the community they’re in. All to encourage the connection between these different target groups. We of course have the hotels, but we also have restaurants, workspaces and meeting rooms. The most important thing for us is creating and connecting a community. Which is embedded in everything we do, from facilitating workspaces up to 8 people to encourage diversity, to creating a visual connection in all our spaces which start as soon as we build a new location. It’s a place where people can come together, and help each other.”

According to Melle, the Student Hotel first started out as a place for students only: “When we first began, we noticed there being an increasing need for parents to be able to visit their children who study abroad. But we had to turn them away, which is very odd when you’re a hotel. From then on, we started combining student accommodation and the hotel. At first, it was just for parents, but now we facilitate expats, trainees, tourists, anyone who wants to stay for a weekend, or have an extended stay anywhere from 2 weeks, up to 3 or 6 months, or a school year.”

Drivers for success

According to Melle, The Student Hotel carries out a lot of research, both quantitively and qualitatively. “When it comes to the hotel, we do post check-out surveys, and analyse all ratings and reviews extensively,” Melle continues. “Whether the reviews are on TripAdvisor, Booking.com or Expedia. We gather insights from these platforms and create a monthly rapport of all findings. All reviews below 4 and 5 stars will have a follow-up conducted by a member of staff. When it comes to students, we have a quarterly student survey. Asking them functional questions such as if their kitchen is working or if they’re experiencing issues with cleaning. But we also ask more emotional questions about their well-being. Do you feel part of a community? Do you feel lonely? Does The Student Hotel help you in your personal growth? Next to that, we organise beer and pizza sessions every few months. We invite everyone to come to the restaurant for free beer and pizza and ask them in a roundtable setting how they’re doing. With the workspaces we mostly ask feedback during events.”

“Your Instagram Story or your brand story may be fantastic, but if the service you’re given from the front desk isn’t up to standards, you still walk out of the doors with a bad experience.”

The keys to success

In everything The Student Hotel does, they incorporate their mission; helping people find their purpose so they can change the world. Melle: “We try to make the world a little bit better, which even translates into the daily tasks of our employees; does this help someone grow? Does this help someone to learn? That’s our core. ‘Stay curious’ is our new payoff we’ve introduced 6 months ago. And it’s applicable to everyone. Yes, from origin we were just for students, but learning and keep learning is relevant for everyone. Especially now. Don’t stop learning after you’ve graduated.”

Melle explains that the success of The Student Hotel heavily depends on the operational teams: “I caught myself referring to ourselves as the ‘headquarters’, but that makes it sound like we rule from our secluded tower somewhere, which we don’t. We’re a service centre. Everything we do revolves around providing the operational teams with the right tools so they can do their job better. Everything we do is subordinate to the people that work behind the bar, or at the front desk. Your Instagram Story or your brand story may be fantastic, but if the service you’re given from the front desk isn’t up to standards, you still walk out of the doors with a bad experience. It makes or breaks your recollection of our brand. It’s crucial for our success.”

Making an impact

Melle explains a situation where The Student Hotel received some backlash as a brand, but gained an insightful learning: “3 years ago we made a political statement surrounding the American Presidential Election. We found that when you’re growing as a company, the more extreme you are in your views, the more it limits you as a business. If we truly want to make an impact in the world, you have to be a big company. As The Student Hotel we want to grow, so we can have that impact. And that’s something you need to consider. Patagonia is an example of a company that has stayed true to itself and their believes, and has still grown to be as big of a company that it is today, and that’s something to admire. Whatever it is you stand for as a company, it has to come from your core. And when that’s the case, your connection as a brand with your target audience will lie in these shared values. When you share a certain belief, you have an authentic and relevant connection. To the point where you can meet someone here at the bar, and find a subject your both passionate about and can talk about for the rest of the evening. Just like the people who live here, we believe in being curious, lifelong learning that isn’t bound by age, nationality or race. That’s a belief everyone here shares.

In 10 years

Melle gives us his thoughts on where The Student Hotel will be in 10 years. “If you asked this question a year ago, I might have said we’d be in Asia and America, and we might be in 10 years. But for now, we’re focusing on Europe. There’s so much to do here, and we’re working on building 25 more locations the coming years. We’re looking at all the big University cities of Europe which have a substantial and growing community of international students, that’s where we want to be. After that we’ll for sure be looking at the US, maybe even Canada, and Asia.”