Generator adds VP to head N.A. expansion

LONDON—When Frederik Korallus, CEO of Generator, was profiled as one of Hotel Business’ Ten to Watch for 2016 near the end of last year, he discussed the addition of the hostel brand’s first North American property in Miami. The 102-room, 406-bed Art Deco building on South Beach’s Collins Ave. is expected to open next year.

“On average, we have 70% of our bed stock that is shared and 30% that is singles or doubles, and we always do a feature suite as well,” he said in the profile. “In Miami, we will probably see a different ratio because of the market in the U.S. But, what’s interesting about Miami is the visitation is 30% domestic, 30% Latin American and 30% European. It’s an international city, and the consumers have high expectations of brand innovation. That gives us a great entry into North America.” 

Fast forward to last month and Generator, based here, has found someone to help accelerate the brand’s growth in North America: Michelle Flagg, the new VP of North American development. According to the brand, she brings a specialized expertise in developing and growing lifestyle hospitality brands from concept to market. Flagg has hit the ground running in her new position.

“I started with Generator [in early October], and have jumped right into taking on some exciting projects,” said Flagg, who has a knack for developing and growing lifestyle hospitality brands from concept to market, according to Generator. “We are already working on identifying our next few locations in North America, deciding which markets are best suited to continue our expansion of the Generator brand, and which partners here in North America are aligned with our strategy and are excited to help develop new properties together with us.”

Korallus elaborated about the types of markets Generator is looking at. “We are evaluating key markets with a focus on the East and West Coasts,” he said. “Generator lends itself to large urban centers with dynamic culture, nightlife, fashion and art. Our guests are connected and are out seeking the globe for new impressions, connections and experiences.”

He said that Flagg’s appointment “is a strong signal of our commitment to accelerate growth in North America. There is a clear gap for a brand such as Generator, which meets the needs of the millennial and Gen-Z consumer with its strong emphasis on design, high-energy events and exciting bars and restaurant concepts.” He further described her as being “bright, experienced, ambitious, extremely connected and passionate about lifestyle brands. Her experience with private equity, design and other growth-oriented brands make her an ideal leader for our North American growth.”

Before moving into her role at Generator, Flagg most recently launched WeLive, the new co-living brand from international startup WeWork. Prior to WeWork, she acquired and developed lifestyle hotel properties for New York-based Chelsea Hotels and was a member of the Lodging Investment Banking Group at Cantor Fitzgerald. 

It was Generator’s social elements and rapid growth that attracted Flagg to the brand.

“The Generator brand really speaks to me personally,” she said “The social spaces are energetic, the design is playful and inspiring, and the locations are all of the top destinations across Europe. Generator offers exactly the type of social hospitality experience I look for when I travel. Beyond the brand, Generator as a company has flourished this past year under Fredrik’s leadership, and the opportunity to join such a forward-thinking team that is expanding at an incredible pace really stood out to me as a perfect fit.”

The magna cum laude graduate of Brown University, who holds a bachelor’s degree in architectural and environmental studies, has learned a lot in her five-year-old professional career that will help her in her new role. Among those are: “The importance of developing a brand identity in advance of expanding into new markets, and staying true to that brand identity as our company grows and evolves,” she said. “That is something I learned in launching both the Chelsea Hotels and WeLive brands, and it will be essential for my role at Generator. For example, asking ourselves, ‘What moods do our spaces inspire? What kind of experience do we want to create for our guests? What criteria are most important when selecting new locations?’ Always being mindful of staying true to our brand, even as we refine and adjust certain features for new markets like North America.” 

She continued, “Also, the ability to be nimble, to work from anywhere with a team that is often an ocean away, to pick up and go tour a property when a sudden opportunity pops up. That is something that will be a tremendous help in my new role with Generator. Fredrik has entrusted me with quite a pioneering role here in North America, and so the ability to efficiently work through the many opportunities we have, and to prioritize our team’s resources accordingly, will be a great help.” 

As for what’s next for the Generator brand, Korallus said, “Our plan is to double the size of the business over the next four to five years, taking us to 30 units. North America will play a major role in this growth.”

Generator currently has 12 design-led hostels open in Europe in, as Korallus noted “some of the world’s most-exciting cultural centers,” including two properties in Berlin, as well as locations in Paris, Rome, Venice, London, Dublin, Barcelona, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam. In addition to the Miami property, a hostel in Madrid is expected to open next year.

“Our first opening in the United States next year follows the recent growth and fantastic success of the brand in Europe,” he said. “We have delivered strong growth over the past few years with four new assets opening in the last 18 months alone and are excited by the next phase of growth. There is significant opportunity for innovative companies with a strong brand that appeal to the new generation of travelers, and we are confident that Generator is ideally placed to capitalize on this trend as we continue to expand internationally.”