TheVision. L E A D I N G T H E L U X U RY & D E S I G N S PAC E
MY CORE VALUES:
Creative, positive, versatile and international My initial key focus areas for building on the brandsâ€™ success 10 travel trends that the brands should not ignore
This magazine will give you a high level overview of my vision for Starwood’s Luxury and Design brands over the coming months, which I can explain in more detail during our interview. Let me begin by telling you my brand story...
“Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Already Taken” ~ OSCAR WILDE
Branding Loyalty Marketing F&B Marketing Public Relations Sales Hotel Operations (front office and Food & Beverage)
I have lived in nine countries including 15 years in the Middle East. This has helped create an open-minded positive approach that is genuinely international. As we enter new markets that are key to Starwood’s future growth and our guests become increasingly global, I believe my ability to understand diverse cultures is a major asset.
One of my key advantages is that I understand how each department plays a role in a brand’s success. So, for example, if some brands require more focus in one area rather than another, I can provide the versatility required.
I have lived in hotels for 18 years, spent three years at hotel school and worked in hotels for 20 years. I have a unique understanding of all aspects of the industry.
So what will I bring to the role? I believe that a brand needs to make a promise, communicate that promise and then deliver that promise using every touch point we have with guests (mostly our associates) to strengthen that promise.
My work experience encompasses EAME hotels as well as the divisional office. As a result I have a solid understanding of Starwood’s brands, regions, hotel products and culture. I have earned credibility among our teams through my positive approach, creative problem solving, reliability and integrity. For the past 20 years I have also enjoyed a range of professional experience in a variety of different areas. Each one is relevant to evolving and strengthening successful hotel brands in a fast-moving market.
So, for our Luxury and Design Brands, I recommend starting by building on the success of three focus areas: Internal Brand Culture In-hotel Service/Guest Experience Continuing Marketing Momentum
The quality of the product & the service we deliver.
Driving Success Through Our Hotels Never lose sight of the first thing that is going to drive loyalty to our brands â€“ the quality of the product and the service we deliver. We need to collaborate closely with our Development, Design and New Builds and Transitions teams to ensure hotels are on-brand from day one. But an ongoing partnership with our Operations teams is critical.
GUEST EXPERIENCE INDEX (GEI) Our GEI scores show that there exist opportunities in areas such as check-in, restaurant service and SPG. You can have the best brand campaigns in the world, but if your core business offer is not up to scratch then it wonâ€™t be worth much.
CREATING BRANDED F&B CONCEPTS F&B is either a key driver of satisfaction for our in-house guests or a passion point for some of the brands. We also need to keep the local market in mind where relevant. If the locals eat there, so will our hotel guests.
EVOLVING OUR EXISTING BRAND EXPERIENCES We have great guest experiences already in place that have helped bring to life our lifestyle brands. Some may need to be reinforced but we can now also look at evolving them. W minibar pilot - make your own drink 3
French countryside breakfasts for Le Meridien. Baguettes with a contemporary twist, innovative jams and local croissant fillings.
Luxury Collection – personalised holiday itinerary prepared in advance based on guest’s social media profiles eg. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram
DRIVING SUCCESS THROUGH OUR HOTELS
Creating branded F&B concepts and Evolving our existing brand experiences
Local produce picnics with Luxury Collection 4
Family traditions for St. Regis across every touch point.
Unlock Art – Discover a surprise element on some of the key cards eg. Invitation to a dinner in the hotel kitchen. 5
DRIVING SUCCESS THROUGH OUR HOTELS Evolving our existing brand experiences
W Hotels - Expand Whoâ€™s In Town beyond electronic music eg a preview of clothes prior to fashion show, preview of design etc.
Strengthening Our Brand Culture Our industry is complex in relation to many luxury products due to the number of touch points that we have with our guests. Each time one of our associates interacts with a guest, it is an opportunity to either strengthen the brand promise or weaken it. It is therefore crucial to create an internal culture that reflects the brand positioning and can grow the equity of the brand, not devalue it.
INTERNAL COMMUNICATION We need to find new, interactive and novel ways in which to reach and interact with our associates in the same way we do with our guests. Internal brand weeks/campaigns/contests etc work well. More importantly, we need to find new ways of unlocking associatesâ€™ ideas and making them happen.
INVESTING IN OUR ASSOCIATES We need to support our associates with the knowledge they need to serve our target guests. This could mean courses on understanding different cultures, becoming experts on our brand passion points or providing expert insight into the psychology of our target travellers.
Grow the equity of the brand.
STRENGTHENING OUR BRAND CULTURE Internal communication
Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Resort, Paris Complex, W Istanbul and Le MĂŠridien Al Aqua celebrate SPG Awareness Week
STRENGTHENING OUR BRAND CULTURE Investing in our associates 11
W HOTELS – Find the most ‘on brand’ designer contest voted by W loyalists and celebrity designer. Prize is a place in Central St. Martins fashion school or amount towards tuition fees.
Continuing Marketing Momentum Brands thrive on their stories. Below are just a few examples that illustrate the focus areas in order to continue the Marketing momentum our brands have achieved. We also need to keep in mind that our B2B communication (primarily through Sales) also needs to be addressed.
Broadened brand reach.
Evolving our existing partnerships and seeking new ones will help our brands broaden their reach and create fresh stories. It can also help us to integrate the brands into local cultures and groups we may not be able to reach otherwise. These partnerships could include personalities as well as lifestyle companies.
DIGITAL/SOCIAL Affluent millennials are transforming the marketplace and they demand a personalised digital experience that is genuinely interactive. It is vital that our brand strategy has at its core a commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital dialogue in a way that is authentic and genuinely engaging.
PUBLIC RELATIONS/EVENTS We need to continue to work closely with the Communications Teams to strengthen our PR and blogger strategy, focusing on leveraging PR opportunities. We should continue to focus on top-tier, lifestyle and cultural communication channels as well as appropriate business media. Events for a brand’s top customers, for example, would allow us to interact with them on a one-to-one level and get direct feedback. 13
CONTINUING THE MARKETING MOMENTUM Partnerships Christie’s for Luxury Collection
DAS Collection Designer partnership – A heritage of the Middle East for St. Regis. 15
CONTINUING THE MARKETING MOMENTUM PR/Events
CONTINUING THE MARKETING MOMENTUM Digital
10 THE VISION
In the world of the global nomad, luxury has become impossible to pin down. It’s so multi-dimensional, so bespoke, so cultural, so emerging market, so individual, that the definitions of the past no longer apply. Here are 10 global travel trends that I think we should pay attention to:
GLOBAL TRAVEL TRENDS TO WATCH
BEING RATHER THAN HAVING Travellers need to step into stories in order to create memories. They are experience-seekers. Brands need to create new types of immersive, themed experiences that focus on escape, learning and communal connections with others. Value is determined via its uniqueness versus its price.
LET’S GET PERSONAL By identifying a traveller’s personality, interests and profile, brands serve them better. Personalised travel is the new luxury. Tailor-made experiences around individual interests are de rigueur.
SPENDING MONEY, RESPONSIBLY Many affluent travellers feel a moral obligation to give something back. Travellers look to create meaningful experiences by ‘buying into’ organisations that will allow them to justify their expenditure in a socially responsible way. 18
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NEW EPICENTERS. Do not forget to farm in mature countries while hunting in emerging ones. The industry is entering new markets that are the lever of its future growth. True cultural connection is the key for brands if they want to create an enduring emotional relationship with their guests whether from Russia, China, Brazil, India, Middle East or beyond.
THE DIGITILIZATION OF LUXURY BRANDS With millennials becoming a major consumer demographic by 2015, luxury brands need to develop smart marketing campaigns to capture their attention and maintain the exclusive appeal of their products.
LET’S TALK Digital social platforms reinforce the power of word of mouth. It’s simple psychology — I love and trust my friend, my friend knows me and what makes me tick, therefore I trust that what my friend suggests will suit my interests. Social media enables brands to speak to their consumers in a more direct and personal way, becoming one of those trusted friends, if done well.
LOYALTY PROGRAMMES SPG share of occupancy is highest amongst our luxury brands and we know it continues to be a key driver for our brands. Loyalty programmes need to offer access to the extraordinary – to experiences that money can’t buy.
INSIDER KNOWLEDGE Time management is the greatest of all luxuries. With time so precious, information overload and a modern obsession with instantly connecting to a destination when you arrive, insider knowledge is critical. Travellers are looking for exclusive access and unforgettable money-can’t-buy events.
AN EXPECTATION OF SUPERIOR SERVICE Simplicity and seamless service rank highly among the main expectations of the modern traveller. All elements of the service chain must work seamlessly, from the planning process to returning home, including accommodation, meals and the in-hotel experience. Sources: Virtuoso, Luxury Daily, Boston Consultancy Group, Destinations of the World News, The Guardian, Interview with Paul James, ILTM Cannes report. 19
INTERNAL CULTURE Internal service/brand culture is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely intangible component of business that belongs to HR. It is in fact one of the most important drivers to push long-term, sustainable success and the key to the impeccable service delivery our guests expect.