Talking Business: James Fry, Base Nyon

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• What is your business background and how did you come to be working in the serviced apartment sector?
"I come from a family of entrepreneurs and have previously set up an internet company before moving into property development. My old boss pointed out that all the power is with the companies that control the best brands. I wanted to develop a meaningful brand in the hospitality sector and identified the serviced apartment sector in Switzerland as being poorly represented but having a high demand. I moved to Switzerland seven years ago and developed the concept with my business partner Frederic Mydske."

• How did the concept for the base brand come about, and what makes it stand out from other brands in the space?
"Neither Fredric nor myself are from hotel or large corporate backgrounds. We came at the problem with a fresh approach without being influenced by a big corporate culture or decision by committee.  We did a number of things, we asked ourselves 'is there a better way?' Just because everyone else did something, did not mean we had to. An example of this is to not have a formal front desk or provide a buffet breakfast - we have an open-plan space with kiosks and base breakfast bags (bbb).   We also interviewed more than 40 companies to ask what they wanted from a provider in the area.  Finally we operated 12 apartments as short-term lets and saw how people used the apartments, i.e. how much they brought with them, how important the kitchens where, how long they stayed, if they returned and so on. We took this information, along with a strong focus on intelligent technology, and the obligation for any new company to develop their concept in a sustainable way, and developed the Base concept, brand and a number of unique base services such as the base box, base bike and base breakfast bag.

• Why did you decide on Nyon for your first location?
"Nyon is a small village of 20,000 inhabitants situated on Lake Geneve, in between Geneva and Lausanne. Nyon is the first town inside the canton (county) of Vaud. Vaud offers tax incentives to companies and also the advantage of being 15 minutes from an international airport, close to the UN and the financial centre of Geneva - and it's a beautiful place to live. There are 14 multi-billion dollar companies situated in Nyon, including such as GSK, Beckman Coulter, General Mills, Regus, UEFA, Edwards Life Sciences, Autonomy Capital, and Tupperware.

• Is the Nyon property attracting leisure guests as well as corporates? If so, what is the proportion?
Nyon is first and foremost a business town with approximately 80 per cent of our bookings being from businesses. However, it is also known as 'the village of festivals' - with four major festivals - film, arts, and two music festivals. The Paleo music festival attracts 200,000+ people over six days.  In the summer months we anticipate an increase in weekend traffic from tourists, festival visitors and also visitors to many of the local medical institutions."

• What are your plans for rolling out the brand in terms of future locations and target number of properties?
"Base Nyon was five years in planning. We have now established our template and had some great feedback and comments from guests, including 5 out of 5 on Tripadvisor where we are ranked the top hotel in Nyon. We are looking to roll out the base brand across Swiss Romande (the French speaking part of Switzerland) to Geneva, Lausanne, Vevey; and Swiss Allemande (the German part) to Zurich, Zug and Basel. We aim to grow to at least five sites open or under development in the next three years, and to establish a firm base to grow to multiple destinations across Europe. 

• Are you looking to brand and manage other owners' properties as you expand or to be owner/operators or both?
"We are looking at all options but will focus on leases and management contracts before looking for strategic partnerships with a larger group to help with our roll out and expansion."


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