Trump—a name Americans and individuals all over the world will be hearing more frequently over the next four years. As the president-elect attempts to mend a divided electorate with policy, Kathleen Flores, EVP of new brands and innovation at Trump Hotels, hopes to connect travelers in another way: through Scion, a new brand designed to “deliver meaningful and sought-after experiences to those looking for a welcoming community and a sense of connection during their travels as well as when they are at home,” she said.
“While the world has changed, our company values and those of the Scion brand have not,” Flores noted. “We care deeply for what we do; we work hard, and we are laser-focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences. Scion is about connecting, and that is a movement being embraced across our country and the world. The desire people have to connect—with each other and with their environments—is strong.”
She joined the team in March of this year, jumping immediately into the “very early days” of brand development for Scion. Having worked previously in the lifestyle and social club space for several years before joining Trump Hotels, Flores leveraged her experience in the space to package “all of the wonderful ideas” the team had been working on prior to her arrival, compacting them “into a cohesive, go-to-market brand.”
“Scion is a locally relevant, multifaceted, four-star lifestyle brand developed in response to the boom in social clubs and the sharing economy,” she said. “We are working to create a compelling space and community where today’s thinkers and makers can interact, and where they will be inspired.”
Conceptualizing a new brand from the ground up isn’t easy for any hotel group taking a crack at a new market of guests, especially when “idea overflow” is the primary concern initially. “We realized the brand was trying to be everything to everyone, so we took a deep breath, started to prioritize, looked at emerging and existing trends, and made decisions about what we wanted this brand to stand for,” Flores said. “After many iterations, what became clear for us is that Scion is about connecting. Connection is our North Star—any brand decisions we make hearken back to that simple concept.”
The brand’s targeted guest is the traveler with purpose, defined as someone who is “looking to connect in a meaningful way with the destinations they find themselves in, with those around them, and, ultimately, with themselves,” she said. “We are targeting a psychographic, not a demographic. The Scion guest is interested in what is happening in the world and curious about what others are doing.”
Flores and her team have already received developer interest in the brand, which was “created with the developer and owner in mind,” she noted. “With a team of experts that has served the hospitality industry for many years, we have a clear and deep understanding of what the development community is looking for—and what forward-thinking owners and developers have been asking for. We understand the need for a compelling return, and we are confident that Scion is the solution for those looking for a brand that is relevant, lasting and profitable.”
While she has been in and out of hospitality throughout her career, Flores “grew up” in the restaurant business and retail. “Those service roots are something that I’ve valued and applied to every role I have held,” she said, stressing the importance of collaboration and listening. For her, it’s all about learning and finding opportunity to apply what she’s learned.
“For example, when I moved from hospitality and retail into the technology sector, my service orientation was somewhat new to those organizations, and I was able to make a positive impact,” Flores said. “The same goes for moving back into hospitality. While in technology, I learned a lot about process and project management, and it made me a stronger hospitality executive.”
While being dedicated to her career has brought many opportunities along the way, it has also prompted complexities in her personal life. “I’m always on the go,” she said. “I’ve had to work hard to find balance among work, family, friends and self. I love what I do, but I know it’s essential to find time to work out, be with my family and friends, and sleep (which, for me, is a critical component of balance and happiness).”
To clear her head, she meditates, which, according to her, is more like “practicing meditation” because it’s an action she’s been committed to over the years but still finds difficult. “The easiest time for me to meditate is in conjunction with my Bikram yoga practice—which I try to engage in regularly,” Flores said. “I also find great opportunities for reflection/meditation when I work in the yard—a passion of mine.”
On top of everything else, she still finds time to volunteer and give back to the community. “I work with a number of organizations that care for people,” she said. “Currently, I serve as vice-chair of the board of Mott Haven Academy—a charter school in the Bronx that serves mainly children in the foster and child welfare communities through a holistic approach to their social, emotional and educational needs.” She’s also committed to working hand in hand with City Harvest, a food and distribution organization, and the housing charity Habitat for Humanity.
“I absolutely love creating environments for people to be successful in,” she said. “Throughout my career, nothing has brought me greater satisfaction than when someone on my team has been tapped for new opportunities because of skills they developed or experiences that they gained while working for me. As a leader, I always seek to surround myself with people who complement my skill set, so that collectively, we are better and stronger than we would be individually.” HB