“…programming is really ideas. How can you take a space and utilise your creative capital to make it exciting to your guests.” Alan Philips, CMO Morgans Hotel Group
Alan Philips is the Chief Marketing Officer for Morgans Hotel Group, where he oversees the concepting, marketing, and development of boutique hotels and their associated brands in the U.S., Europe, the Caribbean, and Middle East. In this position his responsibilities also include the development, launch, and oversight of Morgan’s global food & beverage management business. For the first 15 years of his career he was a hospitality entrepreneur and marketing expert operating his own businesses, Guerrilla Culinary Brigade & SKY Group. Born & raised in New York, Philips attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. His first job in the hospitality world was a coveted culinary stage with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at the original Spago Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard. He also maintained positions with Myriad Restaurant Group (NOBU, Tribeca Grill) and Strategic Group (Tao, Marquee, Lavo). In 2001, he launched his own hospitality marketing and consulting firm; working on projects for hotels, casinos, restaurants, celebrity chefs, nightclubs, caterers, and mobile food operations both nationally and internationally.
Alan regularly writes about the hospitality business and the world of food & drinks; contributing to media outlets such as Zagat & QSR Magazine. He recently published his first book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business.”
THC: What inspires you and why?
Alan: The act of creation and being able to play a part in that act. Whether it is doing it myself, leading a team, or helping another person find their way, I feel that creating is the most fundamental part of being human. If you are able to identify your calling and then put it to work creating something special, you are truly living.
THC: How did you get into your business?
Alan: Since I can remember I have always been very passionate about hospitality and food. It started at home with my Jewish Italian grandmother and once I realized I could get paid to play it was over.
THC: What are you working on right now?
Alan: I am currently in the process of a bunch of projects, most notably Mondrian London, a 360 room hotel on the Southbank. We also just launched Delano Vegas, and my passion project for the moment is a concept called Dinner Party, a roaming communal dining experience that we are developing with Vice Media.
THC: How do you see your space evolving?
Alan: The deeper I get into marketing and boutique hotels the more I realise the power of ideas. Just like phones, it used to be about the hardware. In the case of our hotels I mean design. But now everyone has some type of design. Therefore now it is much more about the software. In the hotel business that is programming. And programming is really ideas. How can you take a space and utilise your creative capital to make it exciting to your guests. Creative capital matched with superior operations is a very dangerous combination.
THC: Who is your hero or icon?
Alan: Anyone who is brave enough to live their truth. Personally I borrow traits from a lot of people. Da Vinci for his independent thinking. Michael Jordan for his competitive nature. Ferran Adria for his creativity. My wife for her beautiful heart & soul. And my unborn baby for showing me that magic is possible.
THC: Where is your favourite spot around the world?
Alan: Sleeping next to my wife, in bed or on a beach, surrounded by family.
THC: What’s your favourite injection of culture into a brand?
Alan: Art & Charity. Both will only be found in brands that have bravery and a purpose larger than just financial gain. Art sparks the imagination and inspires the next generation. Charity gives your work a deeper meaning and helps better the world around you.