Challenger to Watch 2017: Jo&Joe

The third space, reimagined.


Imagine reinventing the entire hotel design approach; catering, service provision, tech requirements and customer journey – simultaneously and in a very short timescale. Imagine committing to a roll-out programme of 50 city-centre, individually designed units in just three years and imagine the learning that will come from such a project. And just imagine you were the marketer or operations person being presented with this almost impossible brief personally by the CEO one Monday morning (because that’s what happened).

Accor Hotel Group, Europe’s largest hotel group, decided to proactively respond to both the growing threat they face from Airbnb and the sharing economy, as well as growth in budget travel, so loved by millennials. In fact, they’ve responded in such an entrepreneurial way, they could easily ‘disrupt the disruptors’, creating a whole new hospitality category, and fast.

By establishing a marketing innovation lab inside the business – one ring-fenced from the politics, policy and procedures of the parent company, the new division has its own budget, and have been given license to write their own rules and generally be allowed to kick corporate butt.

Jo&Joe is a new lifestyle brand pitched at millennials and offering stays for just €20-25 a night. Accommodation has been designed as a ‘living space’ or innovative ‘open house’ and whether you’re a ‘Townster’ (living nearby) or a ‘Tripster’ (a visitor to the city) – it’s a place to promote social interaction and foster positive community, an integral part of the neighbourhood, where there is always something going on.

In developing the new concept, the innovation lab worked with young people to ask them to design the experience they want and then help bring the units to life by co-creating with suppliers, rather than just try to get under the skin of their target through dull focus groups and questionnaires.

The whole experience is enhanced by a judicious application of tech, including a Jo&Joe app which connects to existing social networks and provides a rich and enabling digital ecosystem. It’s that notion of the ‘third space’, once the North Star of Starbucks, that somehow didn’t quite reach fruition for them, realised completely. Jo&Joe have made a very cool bed, it may not just be millennials that end up lying in it.

As Jo&Joe’s first locations will open in 2018, with plans for 50 globally by 2020, we may not be able to become ‘Tripsters’ this year, but the development of the brand and popularity of the concept is certainly one to watch.