Serious business

Q&A with Katherine Lo of Eaton Workshop

The president of new hotel brand Eaton Workshop on merging hospitality with social change. Photos by MIKE PICKLES

Eaton Workshop is described as a brand that merges hospitality with progressive social change. What is your vision for it?

I want to create this spiritual home and gathering place for people who want to make the globe a better place. One of my aspirations is to build a global tribe. I like this term because it captures the sense of how people are becoming more mobile and feel a sense of belonging with people who share the same values.

What was the inspiration behind the brand?

My background is in art activism and film. My father [Lo Ka-shui] used to be a doctor but he took over the family hotel business, Langham, and has been growing it all these years. I never thought I would work there. But he is super forward-thinking and admiring of the technological advancements and cultural changes happening in our world. He approached me four years ago with this challenge to help him create a new hotel brand. I took on the challenge. So I’ve brought a combination of personal history, life experience and everything happening in the world into it.

Katherine Lo

You’ve transformed the hotel in Jordan, Hong Kong. Now how do you build the community?

Only a small fraction of our team comes from the traditional hotel industry, and I’ve made a huge effort to bring in people from the arts, music, journalism and media to help build this vision. Part of the hotel is for film screenings and a co-working members’ club. And we’ve already hosted lots of events, including a women’s festival in September, which I’m especially pleased about.

What have you learnt through this?

Much of what we are trying to create is only being done for the first time, so I talked to a lot of founders of startups and got a lot of advice from them. One thing I’ve learnt is to always align with people who share the same values. If you start from that point, everything else will come.

Why did you choose Washington DC for the second Eaton location?

Washington DC is definitely the heart of many social movements, and many people come from all parts of the US and the world to lobby and work on causes that they care about. So it seems like a natural location to launch our concept, and we did get a lot of positive responses from the community.

What is one thing that will define the hotel industry going forward?

I don’t firmly believe business can change the world, but I do hope the hotel business can change in terms of how they operate, where they source their food and how they hire. The hospitality and the travel industries make up one out of 11 jobs in the world. So if we could change just the hotel industry, that would be huge. 

EDITOR’S PICKS

Discover More

Cathay Travell Book

ABOUT

Discovery online brings together all the inspirational travel writing from our two inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad. Be sure to look out for the print editions when you next fly with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.
Discovery Book Silkroad Book