Having helped drive Kimpton’s distribution to the next level over the course of the last few years as the boutique chain rolled out its franchising program, Tiffany Cooper was recently elevated to the next level within the brand’s development hierarchy.
Cooper—who got her start in hospitality with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in 1995 before returning to the brand in 2018 after it was acquired by IHG Hotels & Resorts—was named head of development for North America and the Caribbean earlier this month. She was previously SVP of development for Kimpton with some 27 years of industry experience, including tenures with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International.
When asked by Hotel Interactive about some of the skill sets that have helped her advance, Cooper also touted some of the attributes of the Kimpton brand, which currently has some 75 hotels open.
“I’m pretty tenacious and I think you have to be to work in a very crowded brand space. When Kimpton began in 1981 we were the disruptor; we created the boutique hotel space. There really wasn’t a lot of competition and now you look around and there’s nothing but competition. Being tenacious [is critical] and really trying to understand the needs of a client and connecting with them not on a transactional basis, but truly from a place of collaboration and partnership. I think Kimpton probably does that the best and I think that’s why I feel most at home with Kimpton,” she said.
Cooper elaborated on her journey and the decision to return to the company after she received a call from former chief development officer Allison Reid—who recently left the company to join Aimbridge Hospitality.
“When I got the call in 2018 to come back to Kimpton after 20-plus years it was just too good of a story to pass up. The company gave me my big break in hotels and I got to come back and help out in development so that was really exciting,” she said.
Cooper also detailed how her broad range of experience—which includes a nearly two-year stint with Marriott’s development team—has served well in her current role.
“I’m always very grateful for my time in operations and sales & marketing. It’s just about being able to understand how a hotel operates and understanding the market segmentation of what a hotel needs to be successful. I always walk into every project or every deal and I try to put on my old director of sales and marketing hat and understand what are the need periods and who is the target market?” she noted.
In her new role, Cooper is responsible for leading the Kimpton development team and continuing the brand’s growth trajectory by expanding its portfolio in North America through conversions, adaptive re-uses and new build opportunities for both franchised and management agreements, according to the company.
There are some 41 projects in Kimpton’s global development pipeline, 25 of which are in the Americas. Properties in various stages of development within the U.S. include Midtown Atlanta, scheduled to debut this year; Charlottesville, which is slated to open in the spring of 2023; and Denver Tech Center, St. Louis, San Antonio and Reno, all of which are scheduled for 2024 openings.
Cooper, however, was quick to point out that the brand of late has also gained considerable traction in secondary markets with projects underway in locations such as Garden Grove, CA, and Greenville, SC, for example.
She elaborated on some of the benefits, both geographic and otherwise, of opening up the brand to its franchise partners.
“We’ve been building out our platform with great opportunities with really strong third-party operators. It just gives us a little more flexibility and the ability to expand our footprint. It allows us to get into different markets that perhaps before we weren’t able to before, more secondary markets where we can come in and be super strong,” she noted, further adding, “when we started we were predominantly an urban boutique company.”
Cooper further touted the benefits of being part of IHG’s Luxury & Lifestyle Collection as she detailed some of the Kimpton brand’s flexibility and its long-term growth potential.
“We really try to create brands of one that are akin to what the owner’s budget is as well as what the market needs. So it allows us to really kind of flex the brand. We never want any of our hotels to look the same, but we want them to feel the same so that allows us to move into many different spaces and places. There’s a long runway that we have and we also love our placement within our family of IHG brands. If you look at IHG’s total brand placement, Kimpton has its own distinctive look and feel, according to where we sit. We don’t have some of the cannibalization that exists in other brand families,” she concluded.