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LUXURY HOTELIERS 2nd Quarter 2015

SPOTLIGHT ON

Radha Arora President Rosewood Hotels High-performance wellness Emotional loyalty explored Gastronomy & hotel management


The ILHA connects one of the largest communities of hotel and travel professionals in the world, reaching an audience of over 300,000 hotel & travel professionals in more than 90 countries

The International Luxury Hotel Association is the preeminent association promoting, unifying, and advancing the luxury hotel industry. We achieve this by providing insight, opinion and research to executives and professionals in the business.

and gain access to the latest educational resources, information, tools & tactics

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PRESIDENT’S LETTER I was recently asked what department has the greatest impact on a hotel’s success as online booking continues to grow. I believe it is human resources. As I write this, independents are in seven of the top ten spots for five-star hotels in New York on TripAdvisor. This trend can be seen across the regions as non-branded hotels in the five-star category continue to dominate online reviews. What are the independents doing that the branded hotels are not? They are seizing the opportunity to play on a field leveled by transparency. They focus their resources on providing excellent service and authentic experiences and the marketing takes care of itself. For years, many great independent properties were crowded out by big marketing budgets of larger groups. Travelers were still not prepared to risk booking with the unfamiliar. Online reputation has changed that. Independents are now in and big groups are quickly rolling out their soft brands in response. But it never really was about the name. Which brings me back to the Human Resources department. They are responsible for recruiting, training, empowering and retaining the management and employees who provide the personalized service and guest experience that will drive the reviews upwards. This year we will bring together the industry’s thought leaders to focus on these important trends at the ILHA conference Sept 27 – 29th 2015 in Orlando www. luxuryhotelconference.com Hotel owners take note, the time of the great hotelier is back!

Barak Hirschowitz,

President, International Luxury Hotel Association ILHA 3


CONTENTS Luxury Hoteliers magazine is a collaborative venture with the International Luxury Hotel association’s dynamic community of hospitality professionals interested in sharing their incredible knowledge of trends, industry intelligence and inspiration.

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SPoTLIGHT on Robert-Jan Woltering, Area GM Sofitel Germany & GM Sofitel Munich Bayerpost

SPoTLIGHT on

RADHA ARORA, PRESIDENT ROSEWOOD HOTELS

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SPoTLIGHT on Karen Taylor, GM, Nanuku Auberge Resort, Fiji

SPoTLIGHT on Olivier Chaleil, Executive Chef, Sofitel The Palm Dubai

Karen shares her passion for meaningful guest experience and award-winning philosophies

Chef Olivier talks about food tourism, future trends, and how Turkey inspires him

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In Pursuit of a Great Night’s Sleep

There is more than meets the tongue

Steve Tipton, vP, Simmons Hospitality Bedding, on sleep innovation in the luxury hotel space

Why hoteliers need to understand how the science of gastronomy is linked to guest satisfaction

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robert-Jan discusses new distribution models transforming the luxury hotel space, career highlights and recent challenges

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SPoTLIGHT on Valletta, Malta

Spas Trend towards High Performance Wellness

europe’s smallest capital city, steeped in history and glamor

Carol Wests explores new offerings in the wellness arena

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Safe and Sound Luxury hotel security landscape update

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A Soft Brand, New Management, or Both? Larry Spelts reports on the value of a soft brand vs new management for an independent hotel

WRITE FOR US Luxury Hoteliers is published quarterly, reaching our extensive network of hospitality professionals across communities on the ILHA website, LinkedIn and multiple social media platforms. We are LinkedIn’s largest hospitality group, with over 200,000 members, putting you 4 ILHA


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ManUFaCTURInG HonESTy: DESIGn, BRanDInG, anD aUTHEnTICITy In ToDay’S CHIna

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“Upgrade” Profits and Asset Value How the upgrade process can boost revenue streams and improve teamwork

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Internal Service? Where does fantastic guest service start?

Understanding Credit Card Processing Costs your merchant statement may hold some surprises, are you paying more than you should?

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Emotional Loyalty – Moving from Demographics to Psychographics How important are emotional connection and eI when we’re talking guest loyalty?

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What does Geo-Fencing Have to do with hotels?

Individualized Luxury Travel in 2015

Increased brand engagement, personalized guest experience, digitized operations, loyalty and more

Customization and technology in the personalization process

Want to advertise in Luxury Hoteliers? Contact patricia@luxuryhotelassociation.org

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What you didn’t know about the Super Rich and why you should care? Why you should have a strategy to reach the affluent segment

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Effective Hospitality Leadership: Moving from an Operational Mind-Set to a Strategic Perspective Managers need to start thinking strategically to face today’s challenges

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Adding Wellness Value to Guests – The Health Paradigm is Shifting! Holistic “wellness” trends embrace the body & the soul

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2015 Travel Trends Millennials power the Boutique Hotel experience and customer service allows guests to be more self-sufficient

in front of hoteliers, owners, executives, suppliers, hiring managers and more. Gain exposure, increase your connections and become an expert, write for us today! Contact sharon@luxuryhotelassociation.org ILHA 5


SPOTLIGHT ON

Radha Arora President, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts By Lily Lin, author of the book “Interviewing Successful Hotel Managers” Radha Arora is the President of the Rosewood Hotels and Resorts. Although the brand name, Rosewood, is well known among the top luxury hotels in the US, its status has just begun to grow in Europe with Rosewood Hotel London and the soon-to-be re-opened iconic Hôtel de Crillon Paris. Radha is just the man to drive the brand with his vision and ambition. He is always on the go, making his next deal. He believes that nothing is impossible for him as long as he applies himself. So far, he has proven himself to be right. You graduated from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland. Did you become interested in hotel management at a young age? My father, whom I admired a great deal, worked for the Foreign Diplomat Service. We traveled a lot, stayed in wonderful hotels and met many interesting people. It became ingrained in me in my early years that I wanted to be around great people. In fact, I knew what I wanted to 6 ILHA

do when I was five years old. What was your first job in the hotel industry? And what was it like to work in a hotel? When I was 18 years old, I worked as a waiter in a small restaurant in England. This was not very well accepted by my family, but I enjoyed it. I also worked in a linen room, a laundry room, a kitchen and an accounting department. You have more than 30 years of luxury hospitality experience. What fascinates you about the luxury hotel industry? I was fascinated by the old world charm displayed in iconic hotels, such as Ritz Paris and Savoy London. However, the concept of the luxury hotel continues to evolve. Today, we do not define luxury by just a pomp display of shows; we define it by engaging behavior and refined taste. You seem to be interested in power dressing. What is your fashion statement?

When you are with a brand in the hotel industry, you have to dress accordingly. I wouldn’t say that I am conservative, but I tend to go with the European look. I feel that in order to represent my brand I do have to be particular in the way I present myself; i.e., elegant and timeless dressing. People will notice whether or not you dress appropriately. In 2011, the Hong Kong based New World Hospitality acquired Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which is headquartered in Texas. How do you deal with the cultural differences? Dr. Henry Cheng, the Chairman of the New World Development, owns a number of luxury hotels around the world, including Beverly Wilshire. I used to manage that hotel on behalf of the Cheng family. So, I already have a long-term relationship with them. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I grew up in an international environment. It helps in my position today because I am able to adapt to different cultures easily.


What are the most challenging issues you are facing on your current job? Rosewood is a well-recognized brand in the US, but it does not have the same presence in Europe. My challenge is to give the brand market exposure in Europe, so that we are able to differentiate our brand from other luxury hotels. With the opening of the Rosewood Hotel London as well as another iconic hotel, Hôtel de Crillon Paris, scheduled to re-open next year after an extensive renovation, we are slowly but surely getting more noticed. In your opinion, what do your employees expect from you? I think our associates would like to see our brand grow and becoming international and their personality permeating in their brand. If you must make a choice, would you do the things right or would you do the right things? I would do the right things, ethically and morally, for our associates. If you do the right things from your heart, everything will fall into place. You were the GM of the famed Beverly Wilshire (1) in Beverly Hills in the US. Many celebrities have been long-time residents at the hotel. Was it difficult to deal with celebrity guests? Not at all. When I was young, I worked in Savoy London and Hôtel de Crillon Paris, where celebrities stayed all the time. So, it comes naturally for me. You treat celebrities like any other guests with one or two exceptions. That is what the celebrity guests want --- as long as you allow them the privacy. In your opinion, is the GM important to the daily life of his front-line employees? Absolutely! A GM is the role model; you have to be on the front line, you have to be visible. You have to be able to give your associates feedback. They want to know whether they are doing alright. You have to show them that you are passionate about the business and about the delivery of services. You have to make them feel proud. It’s imperative that you lead and guide them.

What keeps you motivated?

Mediocrity!

Motivation comes from fulfillment in life. Today, what motivates me is that I have to be able to secure game-changing deals and I am able to develop the brand and make its presence successful in Europe.

What one thing have you not yet done that you really want to do?

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

What advice would you offer to those who aspire to become a successful hotelier?

My strengths are also my weaknesses. I am very particular about delivering services. Also, I go to the field and inspire and guide my associates. In addition, I have to continue securing the brand, fine-tuning the products and at the same time, I have to expand myself. My job requires me to be the jack-of-all-trades, so I never stop. Sometimes, this can be draining. What quality do you appreciate the most in an employee? It’s not just about their craft; it’s about their personality. Guests come back for the relationship they have with the hotel and our associates. So, in our associates I look for that ability and willingness to go above and beyond. Can you think of a time when you’ve done something that has made the impossible become possible? Our brand is well known in the US and we have strong support in Asia. I want to do something for our brand in Europe. When we first approached the Hôtel de Crillon Paris, it did not seem like we could make the deal. We were not well known in Europe and, at the time, Hôtel de Crillon was not in tune with Rosewood. We really had to apply ourselves. In the end, we landed the deal. Just to think that I worked for the Hôtel de Crillon when I was young and years later, we were able to acquire the Hotel for our portfolio. It was really a fulfilling experience. How has your life been different from what you imagined? I’ve never imagined that my life would be different. I do feel that I’ve been very fortunate to rub shoulders with some of the best people and to represent a brand with style. Life is too short to tolerate …………………?

Skydiving! It’s something outside of my comfort zone. I find it adventurous!

Most hotel graduates want to run before they can walk. They want to get into the brand, get promoted and move up. What has made me more secure in my role is that I started early and at the entry level. At the end of the day, it’s about hospitality and the passion you have, and it cannot be taught. It has to come from within. My advice would be to not only learn the craft early on, but also to learn to work with people at the lowest level. Try to understand what motivates them. If you do not understand what motivates them, you will never be able to apply your people skills. What’s next? I am very happy with what I do and with being able to represent a remarkable brand. I hope I can develop the brand, so that it flourishes all over the world. 1 The popular movie, “Pretty Woman” was filmed at the Beverly Wilshire.

About the author Lily Lin, MBA, Ph.D. is the author of the book “Interviewing Successful Hotel Managers”. In this book, she interviewed 44 top international hoteliers from major international chain and independent hotels. She has taught in American, German and Dutch universities. For more than 20 years, she was the designer and the lead lecturer of a number of courses at the Hotelschool The Hague in the Netherlands. She is also experienced in consulting and corporate training in hospitality and other industries. Lily Lin has a B.S. degree in Business Administration and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland in the US. She received her MBA from the California State University and Ph.D. in Strategic Marketing from the Amsterdam University. She also completed the Revenue Management certificate program from Cornell University. She speaks English, Chinese and German. lin@wearehoteliers.com

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SPOTLIGHT ON Robert-Jan Woltering

Area General Manager Sofitel Germany and General Manager Sofitel MĂźnchen Bayerpost By Sharon Hirschowitz

ROBERT-JAN WOLTERING is the Area General Manager of Sofitel Germany and GM of Sofitel Munich. Under his leadership, Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam won Netherlands Leading Hotel five consecutive years by World Travel Awards. It also won Best Hotel of the Netherlands by World Luxury Hotel Awards and Best Designer Hotel of Europe by Villegiature. Robert-Jan spoke to us about how new distribution models are transforming the luxury hotel space, recent challenges and how he motivates his team. 8 ILHA

Megatrends, for example, technological innovations and demographic changes, are transforming the luxury hotel environment, and it is critical that hotels respond to them to stay relevant to guests. What has been your greatest challenge in 2014 and how did you approach it? If you look at our business, it has totally changed, new distribution models have changed the luxury hotel environment. Personal travel advisors are still popular, but online distribution is revolutionizing this space, even with personal advisory

relationships. Sofitel and Accor are investing money in innovation, our Chief Innovation Officer has been looking for niches where we can break barriers with the competition and proactively be a part of the new distribution channels. The buying patterns of youngsters and the sharing economy are changing these channels even further in 2015, if you look at the Ubers and Airbnb’s, you can share anything. It is revolutionizing our world, it is so interesting. We need to look at these trends with a positive approach. Another megatrend is the Russian


market, we lost 40% of our market from Russia when the Ruble lost value, and now Russians prefer to stay in their country and spend their money there. Middle Eastern Markets have strengthened so we have been able to replace some of the Russian losses with that. Do you think that the market in Europe is almost back to its pre-recession peak? What do you predict for 2015? 2014 started really roughly, the first five months were very tough for all Germany, but we have totally recaptured the loss of the first semester of the year, so we made our budgets and had the best year ever. For 2015, I am very positive, the German market seems to be very attractive though the economy is still slow, leisure travel is strong. How can hotels best position themselves as a MICE destination? Can you do this? I don’t think you can position a hotel as a MICE destination. People come to the city, museums, and such, but should you have an extremely exclusive “once-in-a-lifetime” experience for a smaller MICE group … hmm, yes, then those hotels could position themselves as a MICE destination.

made programs to guests. We try to pro-actively read our guests and respond to their needs. Team members are challenged to write experiences down and share with other hotels via newsletters, internal Facebook pages, TripAdvisor pages, and social media, to make it a shared experience. This is crucial for us. How do you respond to guest reviews on social media? Do you have a policy? We do have a policy – manage social media as a good family father, therefore you don’t write what you wouldn’t write normally. You were at the helm of the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam, which won numerous awards for Netherlands Leading Hotel, Best hotel of The Netherlands and Best Designer Hotel of Europe. What do you believe was the secret ingredient? Probably a fabulous marriage with the designer of the hotel Sybille de Margerie. She understood the importance of being a legend, the former city hall, the former palace where the royal family hosted guests and translated that sentiment with her design talent.

I had been away for 17 years and was fortunate to have developed a wonderful collaboration with our PR agency, we made the right choice in our restaurants, offering a modern, light 1 star Michelin restaurant, reasonably priced with the freshest sea fish available. We explained to the press that we wanted to give the Town Hall back to the Amsterdammer’s, and the pricing level drew people in, the restaurant became the business card to the hotel, pulling in local clientele. The hotel became very successful though it took us three years to get to that really exclusive level where you can win awards. It was the right time, design, property, a total passion for excellence and a lot of pleasure. How do you motivate your team and enhance performance? The secret to success is creating a vision for yourself and your team. It is crucial that you communicate this vision and keep it as a reference to guide your team to the right place. The team knows where they are going and you celebrate success, praise, and learn from failures. Don’t take yourself too seriously each day and have fun. Driving top line is a key success factor in managing 5-star hotels, it creates a fun environment.

Have you noticed the “Bleisure” trend, where travelers combine business and leisure travel? How have you reacted to it? Many of our travelers in Germany do not combine leisure and business. We have dedicated leisure and dedicated business travelers, these are two different markets with large global players like for example Siemens that attracts business players who come to do business. Sofitel Munich Bayerpost also gears their services and products to leisure travelers, offering tailor ILHA 9


SPOTLIGHT ON Karen Taylor General Manager of Nanuku Auberge Resort, Fiji By Sharon Hirschowitz

Karen Taylor, General Manager of Nanuku Auberge Resort, Fiji, lives the dream in a South Pacific paradise, where she has created an award-winning ultimate escape. Her philosophy on guest experience incorporates the essence of culture and community, where nothing is too much trouble and caring for your guests is heartfelt and genuine. Karen, you were involved with the concept and design of Nanuku. What was your vision for the resort, and what inspired you? Managing remote island resorts in Fiji over 25 years I was fortunate to experience Fiji when it was still very tribal, still very much a community, and an extraordinary guest experience.

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Returning to Fiji after 5 years absence in 2012 I was shocked at the dramatic impact globalization was having on the Fijians “essence” as a people.

today… who are the ones being put in the cage.)

When invited to create a concept and direction for Nanuku Resort and Spa in 2013 this concern was forefront of mind. Discerning visitors to Fiji have said for many years... “You can’t get an island experience on the main land”, but now even this “island experience” was under threat on the islands.

Where everyone feels valued and benefits from the relationship.

My mission at Nanuku was to prove you could have an island experience on the mainland. This requires first understanding what is meant by the term. Initial concept, design execution and commitment by owners and then management and empowerment of line staff to the guest experience is critical. Encouraging the Fijians to preserve their cultural integrity and the “essence” of who they are as Fijians, with the delivery of the “Spirit of Nanuku” whilst empowering them to aspire to all things that westerners take for granted and to help them develop as consummate hospitality professionals. Woven into the daily guest experience at Nanuku is a series of cultural journeys, starting from arrival. The authenticity, the realness of who the Fijians are as a people is integral to the guest’s stay.

The best kind of experience is where everyone benefits.

This has to start at ground zero. When concept and design first come together, to enjoy the best outcome. I love the opportunity to own this direction from beginning to the end. Your guest reviews on TripAdvisor are passionately complimentary, with multiple references to meaningful and genuine ways staff have gone out of their way to make a guest’s stay more memorable. Can you tell us a little about how you have created a team so focused on guest experience? Fijians are renowned for their hospitality. As a people. When they are at the forefront of your experience you find that you like yourself more. Westerners tend to be very much adult parent-focused. Our child within is repressed. Letting the staff be who they are and providing the space within which they can shine is pivotal to the guest experience. Making a real difference to someone’s life is transformational.

It costs nothing. The recipient and the giver benefit, generating a selfperpetuating culture. All it takes is a little bit of time, a genuine care, listening, and then showing that you have heard by reaching out in a way specific to the situation. By creating the carer support at Nanuku with nannies, mama, buddy, and special needs support, the guests come to see that this has more value than bricks and mortar. How do you build such a reputation for excellence? Recruitment. Choosing staff that has a “good heart” and a “good mind”. When staff bring these qualities you can achieve so much simply because they have a genuine care that is outside of their own needs and wants. Listening. To the guests especially. Then. Training. Focus. Team focus. Setting by example. Be in the midst of the action so that you can coach day to day, take it gently, so that your presence is not intimidating and that the

Having created a highly acclaimed nanny concept for western families in Fiji previously, I knew the value Western families enjoyed, when a more tribal community was extended to our guests if only for a brief period. (Ironically whilst we have learned tigers in cages became psychotic, and that they did a lot better in a more natural environment where they co-existed, we have not yet realized that it is our children ILHA 11


huge growth curve of knowledge is manageable. Then Observe, reflect, review, strategize and implement. Wellness is a buzz word in the luxury hotel industry at the moment. What new amenities and services do you offer to your guests seeking a sanctuary and a quiet space to rejuvenate? Nanny and carer support. For children 5 years and under a dedicated nanny is provided for every child daily. This allows space for everyone. For people with special care needs, there is some independence for them and their families. A holiday together, but with time out for all.

cages at the zoo… the psychosis and neurosis… the lack of wellness that resulted caused an outcry. Now they enjoy a recreated natural habitat. But today it is us who are in the cage. The net that would catch teens and keep them in the fold does not exist in most families. Our nuclear families are supposed to be super human. So to have the luxury of taking a holiday as a family and not having to micromanage the needs of the family, is an extraordinary luxury… for the parents, the couple, the kids, the family. We have a wheelchair, prams, high chair, baby car seat, cot and baby amenities on hand. Our guests receive a traditional Fijian welcome and a fresh coconut to drink on arrival.

We are now expected to be all things to our family, at all times.

Staff respond to the guests one on one. To call them by name and show genuine care, that is not about expecting a tip at each gesture... but simply to have you be happy.

We are not supposed to live like that. We figured it out for the lions in the

Our wellness spa has a complimentary hot Jacuzzi and

Our culture has lost a lot from urbanization and isolation.

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outdoor spa bures with outdoor showers, and a hair salon for head massage, shampoo and blow dry which is something most small resorts do not offer. On turn down our guests return to a hot spa festooned with flowers… a gesture of care. Unlimited free Wi-Fi, and free movies… are on hand if you have to be connected. What social media platforms work the best for you? Do you interact much with your guests online? TripAdvisor is a good platform, as it provides a depth of review where it is easy to see if there is a trend or pattern… and provides an opportunity to respond, to offer a perspective to a guest comment. This is not always offered in other social media platforms which can be used for malicious purposes. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are all supporting platforms. But for me, the best is always face to face. Word of mouth, good old


fashioned word of mouth referrals from people whose opinion you trust and respect. If I was a burnt-out Exec wanting to recharge, how could I spend my day at your resort? Put away the phone. Turn off the TV. Don’t look at your emails! Arrive to a true sense of place. Warriors escorting you to the Guest Club House with a fresh coconut in hand ensure that you know you are truly in Fiji. Enjoy a deep sleep in luxurious comfort to the sounds of the waves and awaken to birdsong. Join your buddy for an invigorating walk along our 2km unspoiled beach as the sun rises, watching a kaleidoscope of colors unfold before your eyes. Kayak or paddle board out to David’s reef. Crystal waters teaming with sea life or join the daily yoga class. On returning to the Club House our barista will have

your favorite coffee ready for you… an espresso or latte?, a healthy island fruit plate, fish, or not so healthy but yummy eggs benedict and homemade juice to re-energize. Join our daily staff “boot camp” as a special guest and be a part of the daily ritual. Closing with a hymn and prayer, your villa buddy will take you on a safari adventure. Hike to a cascading waterfall deep in the heart of the lush tropical rainforest. A fun filled hour spent here catching freshwater prawns with the local villagers before returning to the resort for a refreshing hot Jacuzzi on the beach followed by an insightful lesson on the many uses of the simple coconut. Climb a coconut tree, (or at least try!) husk a coconut, weave a basket, and cook your freshly caught prawns in bamboo over an open fire with coconut milk in the traditional Fiji way.

Enjoy a laughter-filled game of volleyball with the staff, then collapse wearily in a hammock for a late afternoon nap, before returning to the Club House in time to watch the torch lighting ceremony poolside. Listen to the magical sounds of the warriors blowing the davui (conch shell) and beating the lali drum as their bili bili (bamboo raft) glides across the horizon edge pool and the torch lighting ceremony begins. With a mojito in hand, the world is at peace, at least in this little postage stamp of paradise! As the sun disappears to the joyful sounds of the band boy’s ukulele, sit on the mat, drink kava and share stories of the “big one that got away” before returning to bed to ruminate on the simple pleasures of the day, and reflect on the good fortune that brought you to our little piece of paradise.

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SPOTLIGHT ON Olivier Chaleil

Executive Chef, Sofitel The Palm Dubai By Sharon Hirschowitz

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ChEF oLIVIER’S esteemed career began with apprenticeships in various world-renowned Michelin star restaurants in France, including the well known hôtel “L’Espérance” in St. Père-sous-Vézelay. he has lead high level kitchens around the world, from The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, to The oberoi in Bali, the one & only Le Touessrok in Mauritius and the Ciragan Palace Kempinski in Istanbul. Chef olivier shares his thoughts on Food Tourism, his cool management style, and how restaurants need to simplify their concept delivery.

Do you have any predictions for the next few years?

Food tourism is a mega trend at the moment, which I am sure is very exciting for a well-traveled chef like yourself. Have you created new cuisine or concepts to cater to the foodie guest?

Honestly – none, we are great professionals! The overall timing and scheduling of everything related to the opening was impeccable which meant my team and myself did not face many challenges. It was a smooth ride into a busy operation.

At Moana, the seafood restaurant, we offer the best fish dishes from around the world which cater to a very specific clientele. Many of our guests are Russian and British and we have therefore customized our menu offerings to their taste, along with seafood curries.

Just like myself – cool! With my years of experience, I have seen and learnt a lot and it is in my best interest to not only pass this onto my children but also to my team. Each member of my culinary team has the potential to become someone great, and I assign special tasks to each one in order for them to advance and grow in their careers and to become successful.

I believe restaurants are going to adopt a simpler approach in their concept delivery, which are easier to understand. Guests nowadays are looking for relaxed service with an incredible atmosphere. The concepts are likely to be more focused on specific regions and go back to old traditions or menus and dishes. Where do you find your inspiration? I believe Turkey is a very creative nation, where I have had the privilege of spending a couple of years. I also gain inspiration by going and trying different restaurants and cuisines, we are spoiled for choice in Dubai. I am not the type of Chef who cooks to please myself, I love to cook for the nation and it is therefore very important to be able to create what our guests want. What was the biggest challenge for you opening The Palm Dubai?

How would you describe your management style?

Do you have a favorite dish? Lobster Curry, Sri Lankan style.

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Spas Trend Towards High Performance Wellness By Carol West

The serene sanctuary of the spa is under siege. There’s a new generation of spa-ing partners arriving and they’re armed and dangerous! Not content with being A-type personalities in their professional lives, they’ve emailed a list of expectations, have limited time and are expecting results. Welcome to the brave new world of high performance wellness where the retreat is the destination 16 ILHA

and guests pay a premium for bespoke culinary and activities programs, holistic health and wellness treatments and even be psychologically challenged albeit in luxurious surroundings. At COMO Shambhala Estate at Birawan Giri in Bali, the aim is to empower guests via consultations with a nutritionist, holistic health specialist and psychologist.

Identified key issues are then addressed through diet, treatments and activities programs tailored to deliver outcomes. Set away from the coast, this rainforest refuge is refined luxury without ostentation. The natural setting is magical and the marriage of residential-sized villas, museum-quality Indonesian artifacts and haute retreat cuisine has created an estate of sublime perfection. Yet whilst the setting


Ayurveda and cleansing programs,” report spa management. By harnessing specialist staff in a nurturing environment, guests are enabled to face personal issues and future challenges by following customized programs designed to mend mind, body and spirit. With constant travel, many guests need time-out from busy schedules to get their lives under control. Spending their first five days on a liquid diet, many experience ‘coming down’ off the high of constant busy-ness but away from other distractions, most relish the opportunity to be ‘still’. In the state-of-the-art kitchen, small dossiers are compiled on each guest’s dietary requirements and bespoke eating plans are created to complement outcomes. The cuisine is organic, locally sourced, delivered from field to table with minimum delay. Raw fruit and vegetables are critically important, richer in living enzymes, and there’s an extensive juice and vegetable extract menu for guests who are fasting.

is luxurious, this isn’t simply pampering but a 360-degree, sometimes confronting, lifestyle audit and overhaul that’s perhaps not unfamiliar to corporate survivors of restructures and quarterly KPI reviews. “Executives who lead stressful lifestyles and baby-boomers who want to develop more balanced, fulfilled lives are attracted to our

They’re called AITs at SwaSwara wellness retreat in Gokarna, Southern India, shorthand for Alert Independent Travelers. Typically aged 50+, invariably single women and couples, these experienced travelers are now seeking more meaningful, health-oriented holidays. SwaSwara has created an appetizing menu of treatments, food, healthy relaxation, exercise and yoga and it seems that people are happy to relinquish daily decision-making whilst in residence in order to tune in to the inner voice of the self. A private village of 24 Konkan villas lasso the edge of this resort set amidst meandering pathways and luxuriant foliage near a pristine beach. Woven coconut thatched

domed roofs create a templelike appearance. Circular, round, oval, squares within circles, the architecture reflects a sense of completing a journey in a place where people come to do just that. Crafted in the colors of the Earth from locally quarried rich ochre Laterite stone, only the glass-walled bedroom is air conditioned for sleeping comfort. Bathroom and living zones open onto a central garden courtyard and wooden stairs lead to a private yoga sanctuary with glimpses of the Arabian Sea over a lush forest canopy. To counteract the excessive demands of modern life, ancient healing practices are employed including twice-daily Ayuvedic treatments, beach and pool swimming, yoga, meditation, jungle treks, customized diets and daily activities. Consultations steer guests towards changing their daily maintenance, food and wellness strategies both at SwaSwara and on returning home to maintain order and balance in their lives. And with strict adherence to purification treatments using herbal oils, there’s plenty of time for reflection on your innermost nature. With 27 spas across 18 countries, Six Senses’ focus is to heighten awareness of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch through mindfulness and heart-expanding meditation, a well-timed philosophy given that workplace stress is leading greater numbers to seek a more balanced state of being. Six Senses believe that lifestyle changes and achieving goals comes through taking small steps into a big future. Anna Bjurstam, vice president of Six Senses Spas, said, “My daily meditation practice has become as natural and beneficial as any ILHA 17


it’s about finding inner strength, focus and meeting challenges,” says Karen Willis, co-owner of Ayung Sari Indah. Set in a lush jungle village just outside Ubud, activities include a sunrise trek to the volcano by Lake Batur, jungle walks and time to relax and reconnect while sampling Balinese life. “I’m passionate about the idea of Simple Luxury, it’s at the heart of everything we do for our guests,” said Karen. Talking about simple gestures that put a smile on peoples’ faces or thoughtful touches that take them by surprise, she sights things like the daily thermos of fresh ginger and lemongrass tea left on their balcony bungalow and fresh flowers scattered on the bathroom floor. “It’s walking through the river uncaring of wet shoes and trekking through the forest by torchlight on the way to greet the sunrise at the volcano summit while nothing beats lobbing the top off a coconut and drinking the juice from a banana leaf. My mission to redefine luxury at Sharing Bali doesn’t leave a deluxe-sized dent in the credit card,” she laughs.

morning ritual, and we are proud to be sharing the benefits of meditation and mindfulness practice in a way that anyone can grasp. It is a path to happiness and balance that is supported by research.” Sessions are free, often held at the conclusion of yoga or wellness workshops, and polishing these skills through meditative practices can sharpen the cognitive and psychological benefits that occur 18 ILHA

throughout the day, particularly in a business setting. For something more physical, Sharing Bali have introduced ‘bootcamps’ which are high on intensity and fun. “Our six day program run by an experienced personal trainer is designed to improve individual fitness levels. Bootcamp instructors will help ‘recruits’ enjoy each session and achieve great results but ultimately,

As spas continue to mine the convergence of mind, body and soul, empowerment, intuitive connections and spiritual discoveries may take many different pathways but by providing us with such transformative road maps, all we have to do is take the journey….

About the author Carol West is a Melbourne-based writer who, together with partner and photographer Robert Muir, produces travel and lifestyle features for media throughout Australia, Asia and India. She also writes and edits a free WebZine filled with travel inspirations at www.2onthewing.com


In Pursuit of a

Great night’s sleep By Steve Tipton

We are a sleep deprived country. Studies prove it. Experts continue to stress the importance of getting the required amount of sleep in order to avoid serious health issues down the road. But nowhere is the need for a good night’s sleep more important than when you’re a business traveler. Your work performance suffers when sleep suffers. Period. To sleep better, most experts recommend

keeping surroundings quiet, dark and cool. In fact, lowering the temperature of the room is often considered a quick and easy solution. However, getting out of bed in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning to a freezing cold room is far from an enjoyable way to start the day. But what if you could manage temperature a different way? What if a cool, more comfortable night’s sleep started with the bed itself? Now it can.

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Guest Comfort Matters Case in point? Last year, an analysis of traveler’s online reviews by TrustYou was published in an online exclusive report by Travel + Leisure. TrustYou, an online reputation management company, evaluated the mentions of beds at U.S. hotels that got at least 400 reviews with at least 10 bed mentions between January 2013 and January 2014. Simmons took 3 of the top 5 positions, including the coveted number one spot for contributing to the New York Distrikt Hotel’s guest sleep experience. Distrikt Hotel General Manager, Jennifer Rota, was thrilled with the honor, but not surprised. “We’ve been getting positive guest reviews and feedback about our Simmons Beautyrest® beds since the first week we opened in February of 2010,” she said. “Delivering a truly exceptional sleep experience starts and ends with a great mattress. Everything else is icing.”

Temperature Management Design Technology The latest innovation in mattress technology is all about temperature management design – from the inside out. Simmons® Beautyrest® line features an exclusive temperature management design. Tencel® now provides the first layer of temperature control, absorbing and wicking away moisture. Below that, our patentpending AirCool® foams allow for the circulation of air, mitigating heat from accumulating in the 20 ILHA

mattress. All of this technology is designed to help the bed stay cooler and ensure guests sleep more comfortably. Hotels everywhere continue to make the guest sleep experience a priority. Which makes sense, when you really think about it. What you expect when you stay at a hotel is the promise of a good night’s sleep. Key hotel brands have invested significantly toward this goal, understanding the power of this key differentiator and its impact on guest loyalty.

Rota said the hotel’s mission is really quite simple. “We give guests a great place to stay, sleep and come back to,” she said. “We continue to tweak details – scent, sheets, pillows, etc. -- in an effort to align with guest preferences and to exceed their expectations.” Innovators Never Sleep Every day we think about the future; about how we can improve and move our products to the next level. Be the very best at what we do. We believe Simmons’ approach to innovation sets us apart. A talented team at our Sleep Technology and


Advanced Research (STAR) center is dedicated to looking for and developing new innovative products, fabrics, foams and bedding technologies every day. We look at our product development process through the lens of total cost of ownership; how do we provide a hotel brand with a great bed at a great value that delivers an exceptional guest sleep experience for a long time? In 1925, we created the Simmons Beautyrest® and it was certainly revolutionary. Since then we’ve continued to innovate the Beautyrest Pocketed Coil® product to deliver not only an exceptional guest sleep experience, but also the amazing durability that makes our products truly special. The design is the reason why the bed is comfortable, performs and

lasts a long time. Without innovation, we’re just another bedding company. And that’s not what Simmons aspires to be.

About the author Steve Tipton, Vice President, of the Hospitality Group for Simmons Bedding has lead innovative efforts to make Simmons’ hospitality bedding more sustainable and renewable. These developments include the introduction of the EverNU™ removable top for the Beautyrest® Pocketed Coil Spring® mattress, which allows the hotel industry to easily replace top upholstery layers, maintaining a fresh product without having to discard complete mattresses. In addition to reducing landfill waste, EverNU™ also drives operational efficiency to the hotel. Under Mr. Tipton’s direction, the Simmons Hospitality Group also pioneered the use of a new sustainable foundation made entirely of product from the Sustainable Forest Initiative, giving hotel owners the opportunity to sustain longer-lasting product with increased durability on a cost neutral basis.

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There is more than meets the tongue

Liking is not a coincidence

The Intimate Link between Gastronomy and Hotel Management By Peter Klosse 22 ILHA

Ever since the publication of the concept of the Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore we’ve become aware of the importance of the economy of experiences


and value creation. An essential element is the acknowledgement of the significance of the human senses from a business point of view. The metaphor that the writers use to illustrate their concept, is one that we all understand very well: coffee. People pay a higher price if it comes with a unique experience. Therefore it is worthwhile to know more about how the human senses can be positively stimulated. Independently, and more specifically focused on wine and food experiences, gastronomy has been developing as an academic field. Gastronomy is now being defined as the science of flavor and tasting . Gastronomy is not merely about culinary enjoyment. Or ‘the practice or art of choosing, cooking and eating good food’ as the Oxford dictionary states. A gastronome is also much more than a foodie. He or she can – and in relevant situations should – be a modern and broadly trained food professional that knows a lot about flavor and tasting. The mission of gastronomy is to get a much better understanding of why people like the foods and beverages that they consume. Obviously, liking is a key to customer satisfaction. Opening the black box

rather than taste to underscore the multisensory dimension of foods and drinks. Flavor is much more than the ‘basic tastes’ (sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami). In fact, all the human senses contribute to tasting. Therefore tasting, not flavor, is by definition subjective. Within tasting two dimensions need to be distinguished: registration and perception. It is beyond the scope of this article to address the importance of this distinction. It boils down to the understanding that liking is a function of the brain and the result of a synthesis of sensorial information that is gathered by all our senses. Figure 1 visualizes the specific relation between flavor and tasting. So flavor is what products have, and tasting is what people do. It is not strange to make this distinction. In color and sound we have done exactly the same. Some of the frequencies of the spectrum are ‘sensed’ by our eyes and others by our ears. The waves or frequencies that we see or hear are outside of us and have been made measurable. If you cannot perceive the color red, that is your problem and doesn’t say anything about red. Likewise it is extremely useful to consider flavor as a part of nature that is worth to be studied. To do that, we need concepts to be able address flavor.

Why people love or hate certain foods has long been considered to be a black box. ‘There is no arguing about taste’, so they say. This saying goes way back to the Romans (de gustibus non est disputandum), but in fact this supposition has severely hampered the development of a scientific approach on the subject. Indeed, putting taste and tasting both on the subjective side, makes it hard, if not impossible to even to try to start to understand liking. Technical The scientific approach to gastronomy requires an evaluation of existing Flavor Registration concepts. The first step is to define (Receptors) taste as a product quality. Whatever we eat and drink has taste. It is a natural Product phenomenon and outside of us. This gives Flavor Perception taste an objective dimension and places (Synthesis, Judgment) Emotional it in the world of the natural sciences. The next step is to use the word flavor Figure 1: The distinction between flavor and tasting

tasting

FLAVOR


Mouthfeel and Flavor richness The next step is to develop words to describe flavor. This is more crucial than you’ll probably realize. We take words, or rather the concepts for which they stand, for granted. Imagine, just for a second, that you have never learned about red, how could you label your sensory experience as being red? Our brain needs concepts to label sensorial information. Up to recently the words to adequately describe flavor were lacking. We do have words for the basic tastes mentioned earlier and for the specific flavors that we know and recognize, like apple or vanilla, but lack concepts to describe flavor as a whole. Without these it is not possible to communicate about flavor. This has changed with the description of the ‘universal flavor factors’ that have been validated scientifically . The parameters that we found to adequately describe the world of flavor are mouthfeel and flavor richness. Within mouthfeel we distinguish the first two dimensions of flavour: ‘contracting’ and ‘coating’. Flavor richness refers basically to the intensity, the volume of flavor.

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Mouthfeel and flavor richness enable the description of flavor in an objective way. That provides a wealth of possibilities. To start with, flavor is what beverages and foods have in common. Thus, the same descriptors can be used. This leads to new guidelines for the paring of food and wine. Basically, good combinations are found if the flavor profile of wines and foods resemble one another. Another interesting application of the new flavor theory is the formulation of culinary success factors . We searched for factors that determine palatability. This concept is now being used to improve meals in i.e. healthcare the new theory goes beyond traditional emphases on wine labels and menu descriptions of food. Instead new roads are opened, roads that were previously considered to be closed or even non-existent. Creativity in

gastronomy is enhanced when it grows from a solid base. The science of gastronomy has been developed over the last 25 years. There are still mysteries to be solved, but it has proven its use in the Netherlands and beyond. It’s in the interest of hospitality professionals to unveil as many secrets as we can to develop a better understanding of liking. After all, our guests do the tasting and must pay for the service. Clearly, it is vital for a successful operation that they like what they have consumed.

About the author PETER KLoSSE is owner of Hotel Gastronomique De Echoput (five star) in Hoog Soeren (the netherlands) and founder of the Academie voor Gastronomie. Apart from practice, he studies, trains and writes about Gastronomy. He is professor in gastronomy at the Hotel Management School Maastricht. www.echoput.nl www.academievoorgastronomie.nl


Safe and Secure By Sharon Hirschowitz

Hotel security has certainly become a priority in recent years, and the image of security staff walking the floors before returning to their small office to write up a report disappeared a long time ago. Global threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks and Ebola have elevated threat levels, and guests are traveling with high-value devices and equipment. Security has become part of the business and part of guest experience and the security team needs to be engaged, proactive, and subtly visible.

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Most hotels now have Operation Centers (also known as “the bunker”) where anything related to safety is managed, and who often work closely with external emergency responders. Keeping the security team “In-house” encourages and builds special relationships and security with their respective property and these teams will often share best practices with other hotels in a similar environment. Existing security policies need to be evaluated regularly as the security backdrop is constantly changing and new threats emerge that need updated plans and procedures.

St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort ILHA 27


said David Garrido, Director of Security at Jumeirah Port Soller in Spain, “particularly in emergency situations, where it has drastically improved response times”. According to Thomas Garces, Director of Safety & Security at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami, technology has improved luxury hotel security 150% in daily operations, for example, software for report writing, lost and found control, key control and inventory control.

Communication on all levels is critical, between emergency response providers, and also hotel associates and security personnel, who need get to know their guests and merchants and be alert to suspicious indicators. The 10/5 rule is still a frontline strategy that holds a lot of value. Acknowledge the person at ten feet, and greet them verbally at five feet. The idea is to make them aware that you have seen them, and draw attention to someone who does not seem to have a purpose, and may be waiting for the right opportunity. Intuition is an essential element and hotel associates need to be vigilant and feel assured that they are able to voice their concerns to management. How has Technology improved luxury hotel security? Technology has been the powerhouse behind enhanced hotel security, becoming the eyes and ears on the ground, in the cloud, and wherever security officers cannot be present. Mechanical lock and key systems have been replaced by access cards and backed up by video 28 ILHA

surveillance, which is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Sam Golchehreh, Security Manager of The Rosewood Hotel Georgia, in Vancouver, told us that “Newer properties integrate advanced CCTV cameras along with access control devices around their properties. IP Camera systems work on networks, giving better picture resolutions along with capabilities for saving those images for months. Having an excellent advanced security camera system in luxury hotels, helps property operators to investigate security breaches and unwanted activities in and around their buildings.” Cameras can detect abandoned bags, provide automatic number plate recognition for preregistered guests and employee vehicles and detect when a person is in an unauthorized area. The Rosewood Hotel Georgia also uses digitally encrypted two-way radios which prevent unauthorized individuals from using radio scanners to monitor hotel communications and safeguard guest privacy. “Technology has played a critical role in improving security measures,”

Leo Manos, Director of Security at Trump International Hotel & Tower, Toronto, believes that there has been an upward trend with new hotel builds, where they include a 24/7 security operation center (SOC) at the property that monitors all critical life, fire safety and security systems. These integrated solutions can include monitoring of general building automation systems, including HVAC, lighting controls, elevators, fire alarm system, CCTV operations, duress buttons, access control, ID badge programs, intercoms and forced entry alarms. “Guests, visitors, residents and employees benefit from these types of systems because the level of safety and security is elevated and always “on.” Security personnel arrive within a couple of minutes of detecting or identifying an event” said Leo. Emergency Preparedness Program These have become an essential tool for responding to a wide array of potential threats and should cover any emergency scenario that could take place in or around the property. Some properties may focus on natural disaster preparedness, for example, hurricanes, while more


urban locations often pay more attention to procedures and tasks people are required to perform to resume business in the event of any type of interruption in normal operation. “Plans of this nature can include bomb threats, building evacuation and assembly areas, structural collapse, management call trees (organizational charts of who to call during certain types of emergencies), terrorism and active shooter incidents, which are on the rise. Typically, Hotels, Sports & Live Entertainment venues or public places or gatherings are considered soft targets and it becomes quite the task to balance both business and the different layers of security that are required in these types of environments,” says Leo. Training is paramount Training sessions are essential to reaching and sustaining successful security prevention and response measures, and drills with hotel associates on random scenarios such as fire alarms, evacuation assembly plans and building lock-down ensure that they are ready in the event of a real emergency.

secure than using a magnetic swipe card, which is easily lost or demagnetized. • Video Analytics allows real-time monitoring of a hotel surveillance system from a GM’s laptop or Smartphone anywhere in the world as long as there is internet access. 24/7 monitoring can be very useful, even when the system is not monitored the entire time, as an obviously placed camera often deters criminals. Hotels do need to balance guest privacy with security benefits. • License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras and software have become incredibly powerful, and some can also recognize and store data on individuals, which means that hotels can recognize VIP’s or criminals, and better protect their perimeter. They can also track key personnel and vendor vehicles. • Biometrics and Facial Recognition technology uses fingerprint and facial feature matching algorithms with high accuracy, regardless of database size and image quality.

Multi-biometrics takes advantage of each biometric capability, overcoming the inadequacies of a single technology, and are expected to become more prevalent in the future.

Thomas Garces

Leo Manos

Sam Golchehreh

Trends for 2015 • Cybercrime or “hacktivism” is on the rise and organizations need to assess and take action against their vulnerabilities and also comply with new regulations governments are creating to safeguard Personally Identifiable Information (PII). • Access Control technology is a key trend for 2015, where guests will be able to gain access to their room via their Smartphone and also bypass check-in. Not only is keyless entry more convenient, it is also believed to be more ILHA 29


MANUFACTURING

HONESTY

Cross-Waters EcoLodge Huizhou Lu XiaoGuang

deSIGN, BRANdING, ANd AuTHeNTICITY IN TOdAY’S CHINA By Douglas Hamilton

What does “authentic design” mean in today’s global culture? Until the 20th century, when new modes of travel opened up the world’s hinterlands, “authentic design” emerged organically out of local building traditions that were determined by available materials, building technologies and skills. Today, when those technologies are universalized and easily transportable across national boundaries, modern travelers may find themselves yearning for a bygone era when visiting a new country meant entering a wholly foreign world of sights, sounds, and tastes -- a world of discovery and wonder. What then is the contemporary designer to do when tasked 30 ILHA

with capturing an authentic sense of place in a locale that is geographically and culturally remote from the milieu in which they grew up? How does one capture the spirit of a place while still expressing the spirit of the present? Such are the challenges facing designers working in a global marketplace -- and mine, as I began working in China five years ago. So, is there a “right” way to design a contemporary Chinese hotel? The short answer is ‘no’ – there are, of course, many ways to approach a given design problem. But the longer answer is that the demands of a given locale, brand, target customer, or even local politics may dictate a smaller menu of design

options that are ‘correct’ for the project at hand. What strategies then might one follow in seeking that “sweet spot” that makes a design solution feel inevitable? Authentic traditionalism Last year I visited Amanfayun in the city of Hangzhou. Here, a modern luxury brand is sensitively grafted into an actual 300-year-old village. Guest suites occupy entire houses. Lobby and spa functions are gently inserted into the larger historic structures. Apart from the pool, the only entirely new construction houses the restaurant and meeting facilities and is extremely faithful to the historic fabric in its scale and details. Visiting this resort is like stepping back in time, right


Ahn Luh Tianmu Lake_restaurant terrace

down to the monks walking through the grounds on their way to the local temple. A hotelier has to be very lucky to find this kind of opportunity. I think it likely that any attempt to replicate it would be quickly perceived as an ersatz knock-off. Modern traditionalism A more accessible strategy for tapping into a site’s spirit is to distil and abstract the essence of the local tradition without trying to replicate it. This was the approach we took for Ahn Luh at Tianmu Lake (opening: October 2015) and for Maoshan Hentique (projected opening: 2016); a lakeside resort near Nanjing. In both cases, you’ll see the distinctive Chinese gabled roofs and traditional material palettes of stone, gray brick, and white plaster. Beyond that, however, you’ll see design gestures that update the traditional architectural language.

Ahn Luh is a new luxury brand created by, among others, Amanresort’s Adrian Zecha. With its first several properties all in China, senior management wanted a hotel with explicit Chinese characteristics. The guest’s first impression might be of a very traditional large residence, but on closer inspection you might note the floor-to-ceiling glass panels that open the restaurant to an outdoor terrace, or the muscular detailing of the indoor pool with its granite slabs and lantern-filled niches. Maoshan is located in a rural area noted for its landmark Taoist temples. The formal quality of procession that characterizes these mountain retreats influenced the layout of Maoshan Hentique. Guests approach the lobby up a steeply sloping formal drive with stepped fountains. The axial organization then continues through the highly transparent pavilion-

like lobby and into the landscape, culminating in a man-made island with a teahouse. The form and texture of a traditional roof has been re-interpreted at the lobby as an inter-woven play of external “rafters” that cantilever on either end to form canopies at the hotel entrance and at the lobby terrace. Contemporary regionalism Like most countries, China has regional variations in architectural style that emerge from factors like climate, culture and construction methods. For a boutique resort project in the Yan Mountains north of Beijing, for example, our design inspiration came from the practice of building fieldstone retaining walls to control runoff in the terraced persimmon and chestnut orchards common to the area. In our design, serpentine fieldstone walls contrast with robust wood detailing and traditional tile roofs to marry contemporary and traditional ILHA 31


way its design team employed traditional motifs – gray brick, dark woods, decorative screens, linen, etc. – in innovative and thoroughly up-to-date ways. Every room feels modern and sophisticated yet I always know that I’m in China.

forms in a unified whole that feels completely of its place. In contrast, the Huizhou CrossWaters Eco-lodge in the southern province of Guangdong employs a language of whitewashed plaster and expressive wood roof construction – including the liberal use of bamboo – to create airy pavilions in a contemporary mode that would feel completely alien in

a northern context. Public spaces and guestrooms open freely to the outdoors to take advantage of the temperate climate. Chinese modernism Finally, contemporary architects like 2012 Pritzker-winner Wang-Shu are forging an architecture of modernity that feels resolutely Chinese. One of my favorite urban hotels is the Puli/Shanghai. I really admire the

We worked to achieve similar effects for a 2012 urban resort project in the northern province of Shaanxi. The Tongchuan Garden Hotel took its overall design cues from the mountainous geology of the Guanzhong Plain, resulting in a fractured geometry that informs both plan and elevation. The exterior skin of terra cotta panels makes reference to the local pottery-making tradition while the internal stone building faces allude to sedimentary soil layers, hinting at the geological origin of the design motif. The building may not look “Chinese” but every design move is rooted in a strong sense of place and history. None of these examples are the result of a formula-driven approach to design. It is possible to exemplify the qualities of a brand like Ahn Luh or St. Regis while still tailoring the design solution to the unique attributes of a given site. A placedriven philosophy of design results in a more memorable and satisfying guest experience.

Credits

• Amanfayun / Hangzhou

(Zhong Jian Yuan Architects & Engineers Ltd)

(Archilier Architecture w/ DiLeonardo)

• Maoshan Hentique Resort

• Cross-waters Eco-lodge/ Huizhou

• Ahn Luh / Tianmu Lake

• Puli / Shanghai

• Huanghuacheng Academy Resort / Beijing

• Tongchuan Health Garden Hotel

(Archilier Architecture)

(Archilier Architecture w/ CCD)

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(Hitesh Mehta, et. al.)

(Layan Design Group w/Kume Sekkei) (Archilier Architecture)

About the author Douglas Hamilton has practiced architecture with some of New York’s top firms, including EEK Architects and The Rockwellgroup. Since 2010 he has been the Design Director of Archilier Architecture. A 1985 graduate of Columbia University, he is an expert in the design of mixed-use, hospitality, residential, retail, and entertainment projects.


A SOFT BRAND, NeW MANAGeMeNT, OR BOTH? By Larry Spelts

A luxury hotelier with an underperforming independent hotel has several options available to him or her to improve performance without giving up independence. Assuming the asset is in good condition and is competently staffed, the most significant options available are to acquire a soft brand, engage a management company, or both.


Soft brands have been around for over half a century -- Relais & Châteaux just celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. Others have also been around for decades and include Leading, Preferred, and Small Luxury Hotels. Recently the big brand families have jumped into the soft branding business: Choice has Ascend, Marriott has Autograph, Hilton has Curio, and Starwood

recently announced its version of a soft brand, Tribute.

assured of a certain level of quality and inclusion in a widely distributed print hotel guide. This “seal of approval” has little value today since we know that more than eighty percent of affluent travelers check online reviews and rankings before making a hotel booking decision, and cumbersome print guides have been made obsolete by the internet.

marketing, distribution channel management, and revenue management, the most valuable thing that a soft brand provides a member hotel is access to their online marketing tools, distribution channels (GDS, lower, negotiated rates from Expedia and the like, etc.), and central reservations (CRS). However, these tools are only helpful if the hotelier knows how to use them. It is often the

In today’s world of complex online 34 ILHA

For the uninitiated, a soft brand is essentially an opportunity for a hotel to have an affiliation with a group or collection typically requiring a certain number of amenities at a certain quality level without the brand getting into the details the way that a hard brand (e.g. RitzCarlton, Four Seasons, St. Regis,

Waldorf-Astoria, etc.) would do. Perhaps of greatest significance is that the soft brand allows the hotel to keep its own unique brand identity alongside or even above the soft brand’s. Before the era of online reviews and rankings, the greatest value of a soft brand for an independent hotel was a third party “seal of approval” that a consumer could rely upon to be

case that an hotelier invests in membership with the soft brand expecting that the tools will be provided and then, voila, the reservations would start pouring in. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. A tool is only as good as the hand holding it. To be effective, websites and distribution channels require a lot of quality content, constant


updating, and rate positioning that makes sense strategically. This is where the need for quality management comes in. Although most third party management companies do not, there are a few that specialize in independent hotels and out of that specialization have necessarily had to develop not only the teams of talented, well trained professional managers who perform revenue management and online marketing, but actually have websites built, content developed, and manage inventory and rates to appear in appropriate channels and at the appropriate times. These are complicated disciplines that have become a vital part of our industry in just the last fifteen years and that can overwhelm an hotelier whose time is better spent managing the hotel’s facilities and employees and interacting with the guests. It is arguable that if one does not engage a qualified management firm to implement, manage, and optimize the tools that the soft brand provides, that one is wasting valuable financial resources on the cost of membership. The hotelier’s dilemma is this: does the hotel need one or both? The answer depends on the hotel’s competitors and number and type of customer or market segments upon which the hotel needs to rely for optimal business performance. One example of a successful resolution to this dilemma is Cheeca Lodge, a luxury hotel located in the keys of Florida. Not long after the great recession began, Cheeca Lodge, like most hotels at that time, was struggling to reach its revenue goals. The number of available customers had been reduced by the recession causing hotels with limited distribution infrastructure and online marketing

to lose share to better equipped hotels even if of lesser quality. The owners considered a soft brand, but decided instead to engage a management firm that specializes in the operation and revenue optimization of independent hotels and that possesses the competencies earlier mentioned in this article as essential for the success of independent hotels. Cheeca Lodge chose to continue to be owner-operated but turned to the management company for what it refers to as Revenue Optimization services (i.e. online marketing, e-commerce, and revenue management). In the twelve months following full implementation of a more robust distribution infrastructure and the management company’s online marketing and revenue management, Cheeca enjoyed an increase in RevPAR of 76%. This example demonstrates that the impact of implementing and effectively managing a modern distribution infrastructure for a hotel cannot be overstated. In this case and others like it, had the owner opted to join a soft brand, while the tools could have been provided, they would have been faced with the dilemma of how to effectively implement the tools and the ongoing management of them. This begs the question, if one can get the tools and the management from one firm, why make the investment in both the soft brand and the management firm? The answer to this important question brings us back to the issue of market segments and competitors. A hotel in a market with no high-end Marriott flagged properties (Ritz Carlton or JW Marriott) may see a good return on investment by joining Marriott’s Autograph Collection

and benefitting from demand by Marriott customers coming to the subject hotel’s market which is lacking other high-end options from Marriott. On the other hand, if there is a Ritz and a JW in the market, but they are often sold out, then there is yet again an opportunity for positive ROI by having Autograph and getting Marriott customers who are unable to book into the Marriott brands with no vacancies. These are only a few examples of the many variables to be considered. The decision to join a soft brand or to hire a management firm is important and complex. Most hoteliers would benefit from inviting a soft brand representative and a qualified management firm representative to analyze his or her situation and present their cases. In some situations, an hotelier may benefit from having a qualified consultant guide that process. The International Society of Hospitality Consultants is an excellent resource for qualified consultants to address branding and management questions. Whatever the process an hotelier undertakes, due diligence is vital to avoiding a costly mistake. Perform the due diligence and decide accordingly, and the upside, as in the case of Cheeca Lodge, can be transformational.

About the author Larry Spelts has spent his career in the management and marketing of luxury hotels including Relais & Châteaux and Rosewood Hotels. As a vice president of Charlestowne Hotels, he has developed management relationships resulting in over 18 properties coming under Charlestown’s management. Larry’s hospitality experience is complemented by an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

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Understanding Credit Card Processing Costs By Sharon Hirschowitz

Understanding the intricate and rapidly evolving credit card processing space can be challenging, but should not be overlooked, as fees for facilitating credit card transactions are often 2-4% higher than they should be, and unintentional errors can go undetected for years. Savvy hoteliers need to regularly examine their merchant statement to troubleshoot rate hikes and other irregularities to avoid additional costs. Once an agreement has been reached, banks and credit card processors seldom revisit the terms to adjust for the growth or changing needs of a client’s business, resulting in inappropriate surcharges and fees inconsistent with the industry average. Outdated Pricing Models can result in exorbitant surcharges and ineffective data management. Obsolete Point of Sale technology 36 ILHA

can add downgraded surcharges in addition to the processing fees. “Hotel CFO’s or controllers often do not have in-depth training on the finer details of credit card fees”, said Jarett Livingston, VP of Independent Merchant Group, a third-party auditing company that will analyze a hotel’s credit card statement, to find cost-saving solutions and possibly restructure their pricing. “Most financial teams do not have the resources to understand all of the cost variables within this industry. Banks make merchant statements confusing for a reason. They do this to maximize their revenue from the business. No two merchant statements look alike and therefore it is imperative to understand each line item cost being assessed.” “We are very pleased that we were able to maintain our established relationship with our credit card

processor. IMG explained the audit process to us and delivered on the restructured agreement. We have saved thousands of dollars many times over with their help” said an executive at The Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach. “Cost savings measures are invaluable to any business, and I would like to recognize the efforts put forth by IMG. As a result, we have been able to save tens of thousands of dollars annually and did NOT even have to switch providers” said an executive at Mohonk Mountain House. Electronic transfer flow – how it works Visa and MasterCard are based on a bank-member structure, while American Express and Discover operate as independent entities. Multiple combinations of business


structures are used to carry out the functions of merchant acquiring - on the one hand, there are acquiring organizations that provide merchant services directly to their merchantcustomers, while in other cases, banks and large non-bank acquirers come together to create a joint firm (think Bank of America’s collaborative venture with First Data). In this way, the bank serves as the financial sponsor to the payment network. The payments industry – terms you need to know Merchant Fee This is the fee charged to businesses that accept credit cards. Fees are charged every time a credit card transaction is facilitated and costs can add up to between 3%-6% of the business’s gross sales. Credit cards are the most widely used method of payment today, so vital to the hospitality industry. Rates can vary, depending on the business and industry, whether the credit card is present (CP) or not present (CNP), the merchant’s credit standing, size of transaction, platform being serviced on, POS system being utilized, etc…. Direct Acquirer The bank or financial institution that processes credit and/or debit card payments for services or products for a merchant. The bank will accept or obtain credit card payment from card-issuing banks within the organization. ISO (Independent Sales Organization/3rd Party) These are outside vendors contracted by a member bank to procure NEW merchant relationships for the particular

Merchant

bank. Most banks do NOT directly process your Visa and MasterCard transactions; rather they have a joint venture with an acquiring bank (ex. Wells Fargo has a JV with First Data). Agent An agent is a person who represents the ISO office; their objective is to solicit new business and revenue for the ISO. The agent’s compensation is based on the business’ monthly revenue stream, as well as from the business’ credit card activity, which can introduce superfluous costs as a way to maximize agent commissions. April and October – Release During these months Visa and MasterCard will typically introduce a Release, better known as a Pricing Increase, which applies to all credit and debit card acceptors, regardless of who the processor is. At times, the processor will add an extra surcharge (in addition to the release) to maximize their profit. Fact: Visa and MasterCard coupled with banks and processors usually introduce rate increases twice a year, and will typically communicate this to merchants in April and October. You may find mention of your rate increase on the last page of the merchant statement, or it may be revealed in a separate letter. The majority of price changes introduced by Visa and MasterCard are reported and assessed differently by the processor, who passes these charges on to the business.

risk of fraud or chargeback when credit cards are accepted via the phone or internet, encouraging management to introduce a Point of Sale (POS), which can protect the business from fraud and safeguard consumer information. This environment can lead to potential fees and card downgrades. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Compliance (PCI DSS) In effect 2006, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a set of requirements designed to ensure all companies that process, store or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment, ensuring the security of the payment and transaction processes. Data breaches are a crucial concern for any business, and can damage a company’s image by making their credit card security appear unsafe. How can you make sure you are not paying too much? Merchant Services Auditing can save you a considerable amount of money by identifying problem areas, introducing best practices, implementing progressive Point of Sale (POS) technology and restructuring rates with your existing bank or processor (you do not need to change), so that you can maintain existing relationships and services that are working for you.

Once the initial audit is complete and the fees are restructured, IMGs Card Not Present (CNP) proprietary software will monitor The merchant is exposed to potential merchant services statements each month to validate contracted rates are in place and no Statement 1 2 3 erroneous fees have been $ added at a later time. Clients Payment Acquirer $ Issuer $ Cardholder can receive easy-to-read 5 4 Credit to Merchant reports and a 20-65% Account reduction in credit card processing fees. Visa Settlement Bank ILHA 37


Emotional Loyalty Moving from Demographics to Psychographics

By Athanasios Tzakos

Nowadays, all the efforts in the hospitality industry are focused on creating products and services that will respond to the needs and demands of the traveler in order to adapt and to compete in this fast-changing global market. Hoteliers are striving in the daily competitive battleground to respond to these identified market segments by investing a lot of their resources on tangible elements and intangible processes; and not improving the guest satisfaction level, guest loyalty or the net promoter score.

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Based on demographic trends, hoteliers have designed their business or part of their business, in order to attract Millennials, Baby Boomers or also called “Silverwave”, Generation Z, Poshtels, “Laptop and Latte” and many more other categories. The current hospitality industry is focusing more on the rational side of the guest experience but leaving unexploited the other 50% that includes emotions and subconscious reactions.

out of 8 travel motivators and are specially aligned towards enhancing their perspective, feeling liberated and immersing themselves in local culture. The only significant difference is in the fact that Millennials crave excitement. As a result, we have the two greatest markets in one bucket.

Intangibles provide the real competitive advantages and emotionality is one of them

There are many things small, medium and large hotels can do to build real, deep and effective brand engagement and no matter what size the hotel is; it all starts in the same place: what do you represent?

Today’s traveler seeks and desires greater engagement, positive emotional connections, personalized treatment and the opportunity to feel part of the hotel and be seen as valuable guests. We must start designing services that show guests we truly understand and care about their emotional needs. For example, TripBarometer by Tripadvisor in April 2014, revealed the fact that 54% of the travelers are excited when booking, but only 15% of the hotels try to make guests feel like the vacation has already begun, and only 27% provide travel recommendations before their arrival. A good point to start from, isn’t it? People take on different personas when they travel for different reasons. The whole story is about psychographics rather than demographics. So, we must change the focus point. For example, the travel motivational profile of a Millennial has more in common with a retiree. A recent study brings to the surface that Millennials and retirees - the biggest markets currently - share 7

Emotional connection or emotional bonds are the most powerful tools that all hoteliers have in their toolbox

Those values, that you represent, need to be encompassed in your hotel business, which means that all associates must be aware of what they are representing, understand how these impact themselves and their job functions and finally the reason why they are important to their guests, team and stakeholders. Emotional insights need to be brought into the spotlight. The idea that happy guests remain loyal, try new products and services, and spread good news about experiences is starting to catch on. Organizations are reluctant to tackle the emotional side due to the fact that it is difficult to measure and assign a specific dollar value to this. Thus, they are not capitalizing on the opportunity to build an emotional experience that drives guest loyalty and guest retention. Hoteliers have plenty of opportunities to influence their perception of the brand and positively connect with them emotionally. Hotels, no matter how big or small, may use many techniques outlined

further to do this better. About Emotions and Emotional Intelligence Emotions help create memories. Memories create stories. Positive memories and stories drive revenue, as guests become advocates of your property. Emotional connections are created by providing genuinely memorable, distinct features and amenities. Emotional bonds drive passion, loyalty and advocacy. For example, the guest may express that his travel purpose is business but wants to return for a family vacation – family travel is an upcoming trend. The staff member notes and suggests to follow the hotel on Facebook for updates on family packages throughout the year. By identifying the emotional drivers and transforming information into knowledge, and knowledge into emotional intelligence; will help anticipate their needs, to identify new revenue opportunities and create profitable experiences by getting inside the minds of the guests. But what exactly is EI? Ann Fastigi, (2013) in her article ‘’Leadership is built on emotional intelligence’’ defines emotional Intelligence as the “ability to identify, use, understand and manage emotions in a positive manner in order to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and lessen conflict. Emotional Intelligence influences the way you behave and interact with others.” I do not believe that is a fluffy idea, but, in fact, strongly, based on behavioral economics, supports the concept that emotions are the primary driver of behavior. ILHA 39


In the world of e-commerce, there are several ways to dive in and learn more about what matters to our guests, by understanding the voice of our guest across all social media platforms, surveys and consumer reviews or seeking out a specific type of information on your website. Or don’t we have this possibility through the present technology? Apps, smartphones, tablets, etc… Reinventing the existing demographic hotel loyalty program Hotels still counting on discount cards, reward points and point-ofsale coupons will find themselves losing position as a preferred brand. The Deloitte Report “A Restoration in Hotel Loyalty: Developing a blueprint for reinventing loyalty programs” suggests that hotel loyalty programs only impact 19 percent of travelers choosing a hotel. Loyalty is an emotional attachment. Loyalty is built on a foundation of mutual attractions, shared values, compromise and trust. It is a bond with our closest environment friends and family. We may not appreciate everything on a daily basis, but we stand right next to them because we have that bond. That is the definition of the term loyalty.

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As a result, loyalty is an emotional decision that cannot be forgotten over the use of a plastic card. Family and friends did not come with a loyalty card. The name loyalty card has so many connotations associated with it but it doesn’t necessarily make a guest loyal. Offering a plastic card, that represents your loyalty program is the easy part and does not purchase a guest’s loyalty. The secret lies in providing rewards, services and perks that trigger a key emotionsomething that OTA’s cannot do. Loyalty programs and incentives only work if they are based on what guests truly value. By identifying what the travelers are looking for, hotels could be offering rewards and services that are more meaningful to them. Moving from the Demographic Persona to Psychographic (Emotional) Persona How does the guest desire to experience the hotel stay? Identify what emotions your guests value at the key touch points in their journey and which they want to avoid.

For example, I may walk into my hotel room to find the room temperature at 72 F, the curtains open wide, the ice bucket filled, my favorite TV series on Blue Ray, a large popcorn bowl and the minibar filled with my favorite soda. Which are the sources that arouse guest emotions in hotel stay experiences? These emotions manifest themselves in every part and touch point of a guest experience, from branding efforts to long after the interaction is complete. Why and how do these sources evoke their emotions? Which are those sources so you can work out how to eliminate or reduce their impact or, on the other hand, to enhance their impact. A possible way to enhance the impact and to evoke their emotions is the engagement of all five senses; wondering if this is the reason why food is the biggest trend by engaging all of them. What drives value in their guest experience? There is a big difference between what guests say they want and what actually drives their behavior and in


turn value for your organization. Emotional Signature- Leave your unique personalized signature on their guest experience You should identify and target the right emotions, or those that will generate the most value, when redesigning your experience. What is next for leaving your positive signature consistently on each guest’s tailor-made experience? Some questions that could be addressed are the following:

opportunity to influence their perception regarding your brand and positively connect with them before the guest starts to interact with you for example, when they are searching review sites, looking at your website, or listening to their friends’ past experiences of their stay. Creating the path for Emotional Loyalty Realize the need for Emotional Intelligence skills in the hotel organization

How does your brand deliver that experience to the guest? Firstly, building loyalty across other channels, such as social media, advertising, smartphone, website, etc. Secondly, ensuring that guests realize that you greatly appreciate their business. Thirdly, by providing personalized services and perks.

Understand the core Emotional Intelligence Skills. Service leaders and managers, staff members and stakeholders must understand and develop the EI skills in order to manage their own emotions and those of their teams by establishing an environment where the associates can perform to their fullest potential.

Which emotions drive and destroy most dollars?

Revise the human interaction points in the traveler and guest life cycle. Identify what emotions your guests value at the key touch points in their journey and which they want to avoid.

Focus your activity to drive value to your bottom line or identify the emotional package that will bring you the biggest return on investment and eliminate those that are not. Does the strategy focus on the desired key emotions from the guest’s part? The emotions that the strategy must at least encompass are: happiness, value and feeling of being special, care and commitment; and eliminating the emotions of neglect, stress, disappointment and unhappiness. For example, guests find the staff unhelpful by not knowing or dealing with the guest request or complaint. The outcome is that the guest feels that staff members are not committed to meet his needs and they do not value him. Additionally, you have the

Reshape the guest experience. The more your associates can understand your guest’s experience, along with their feelings and expectations, the better they can serve them. Connecting with guests before, during and after their stay. Design little signals in the guest experience that evoke the emotions that we are trying to cultivate on a deeper level of exchange. Reinvest in capabilities and infrastructure. The hotel’s tangible elements and intangible processes. Also, technology can be used to give guests more control over their experience. Trace your Performance. Metrics

such as guest referrals, social media reviews or constructive guest feedback forms or repeat purchase Review tangible elements and intangible processes. Perceptions and emotional needs are constantly changing, so this needs to be an ongoing part of your hotel business strategy and drive your leadership decisions. Listen to your associates and ask them to design trends in guest emotions, perceptions and behavior. In such a competitive environment as this, these insights can offer hoteliers a real edge in differentiating their offer, upping their game in allround guest service from booking to staying; and ultimately in securing emotional guest loyalty. Believing that life’s truest luxuries are those unforgettable moments, meaningful experiences and indelible, lasting memories that stir emotions. True loyalty can be consciously seen and stimulated. Through differentiated approaches, a truly loyal guest base can be built that will be so strong that alternatives become meaningless and the loyalty card replaced by the created emotional bond. Those who win the hearts and minds of their guests will be those who win the battle in the long term.

About the author ATHAnASioS TZAKoS is originally from Greece and has over 14 years of hospitality experience. His hospitality passion finds its origins in his childhood, being influenced by a hotel-themed board game. Athanasios is a Rooms Division lecturer and a hospitality consultant. Holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Tourism Management from the University of Hertfordshire, UK

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“Upgrade”

Profits and Asset Value By Drake Beil

Most luxury properties and resorts can turn incremental revenue streams into mighty rivers if they truly embrace the “Upgrade” process. “Upgrade” not “upsell”. “Upselling” sets the wrong tone and is not a luxury concept. If you are still trying to “upsell” guests, even calling it “upselling”, you run the risk of confusing your staff and alienating your best customers because these special guests love to buy, but they hate to be sold; and they can feel the difference. Clearly, you wouldn’t say to your guest, “Mr. King, we want to upsell you today…” 42 ILHA

But he’d probably be happy to hear, “Mr. King, based on your status, we’re able to offer you an Upgrade today…” If you wouldn’t say it to their faces, what is the message to your team by saying it behind their backs? You’re getting away with something? An “Upgrade” philosophy is the first step key to strategic yield improvement. This focus on language is one difference that makes a difference between average performance and excellence. While this approach is true for Spa, F&B and Social Media programs also,

let’s start by applying this to the very lucrative Rooms Upgrade Programs. Luxury properties routinely oversell their lowest categories, leaving it to the Front Office Team to sort it out upon arrival. That’s fine, but what often happens is that they give away many of their nicest rooms daily for free because they have to put the guests somewhere. What if you could simply carve out 5 rooms per day for Upgrading purposes, at $100 per Upgrade per night? With an average of a 3-night occupancy, that’s 5 x $300 or $1,500 per day, $45,000 per month, and $540,000 a year in


incremental revenue. With a modest 5X CAP RATE, you just added over $2.7M of long-term value to your property along with the immediate profit at over 75%. You also added a performance-based incentive program owners like, because they don’t mind paying for performance. In fact, many prefer it. The good news is that it’s just the first year and our experience is that properties with a sustained program get better and better over time with record revenues in years 2-3-4- 5! But it isn’t easy. It takes a sound program foundation, annual revenue goals, and a continuous improvement process with monthly reporting, executive roles and responsibilities, and regular challenges and recognition for the team. It takes focus to get through changes in leadership. It takes regular training and refreshers because of the normally high turnover rates at

the Front Office. As a side benefit, we often see reduced turnover at the Front Desk as a result of an excellent Upgrade Program. The Upgrade Program is also an opportunity to develop better teamwork interdepartmentally. Housekeeping can help you make key rooms and nice choices available… from the first arrival; or they can tie up rooms and have different priorities. There are ‘Best Practices’ in Availability Management that improve teamwork with Housekeeping and often include incentives for them as well. Similarly, how is your Rooms Control or Blocking done? Special training for the “Availability Team” should include advanced techniques in Arrivals Planning. Most hoteliers are brilliant at cutting costs. Fewer are as good at increasing revenues that make their guests

happier and grow asset value for their owners. To bring in millions of dollars of additional profits short-term and greater valuations long-term, you can start with Rooms, an essential “Upgrade” revenue stream; then add in Spa, F&B and Social Media for a complete incremental revenue package for your property.

About the author DRAKE BEiL and Associates is one of the premier “Upgrade” consulting firms in the world, serving hundreds of properties in over 30 countries. DB&A generated over $50M in incremental revenues or over $250M in asset value in 2014 for their clients. With offices in new york, Honolulu and Beijing, DB&A customizes “Service Excellence Upgrade Programs” exclusively for luxury hotels and resorts. For more info, visit www.drakebeil. com or email us at: info@drakebeil.com.

The hotel industry’s premier talent recruiters

www.hospitalityrecruiter.com

+1 941 866 1944 ILHA 43


Internal-Service? By Tore Berger

It has to work inside the company before you take it to the front, and the use of an active internal-service system is both giving and learning. Train your people to start their service in the backroom, then the service rates will grow in the right direction. A good service transaction doesn`t start with the guest! 44 ILHA

A good service delivery starts with a phone call, a visit or a direct guest meeting. The guest has their expectations, which are difficult to predict, while the business needs to be prepared and ready with a good working service strategy. Then it`s up to the “moment of truth� – When guests meet employees.

The meaning of internal-service is simple: People helping people, employees treating other employees with a service attitude, managers helping co-workers, the small things, the basic things, the full-service attitude. What is better than to start your working day with a smiling colleague or a manager greeting you?


there is a crowd –holding a door, giving a smile in the backroom, a handshake in the morning, a compliment and thanks after a hard day - it`s easy, it`s giving, it`s important. Internal Service is all about the small things in our daily hospitality life. On Norwegian hospitality ships there is a tradition when it comes to internal-service. When the ship is in dry-dock or on a repair, there is always a ship party or a dinner. Then the officers serve the other staff, they turn the hierarchy, they give respect and show the real meaning of an active working environment. We are all in the same boat, and turning a daily routine can be both effective and giving. No 1.

What is more important than respect for each other`s profession in our trade? What is more important than being well and comfortable at your working facility? The answer goes without saying. The hospitality trade is a business with soft relations and high guest/customer demands, and the importance of internal-service can be crucial. It`s all about being ready for expectations, questions, demands and anticipated and unanticipated situations. Let your people be a part of the total service package, train them, tell them, greet them and show your pride in them. A smile and a compliment is very infectious and can be just the perfect start for a great service day, use it, implement it, share it, and of course, enjoy it. A GM helping serve coffee in the breakfast restaurant – a chef helping a waiter to carry plates – a bartender stopping at reception to help when

The guest is always number one in any hospitality business, that’s the way and that’s the routine. Use your knowledge and service mind on everybody in your business and the result will appear. • Think internal-service every day - for everybody without thinking hierarchy! • It is often the smallest things that matter in a good working environment. • Don’t think hierarchy all the time. Everybody in the hospitality business is there to serve.

back-office, respect that and let them see for themselves. And probably after a while, they will experience the system and implement it step by step. • Guest and hospitality-employees are dependent on each other, never forget that. Understanding, respect and will. The “Moment of truth amongst colleagues”, the moment where every service-delivery starts. Behind the scene, back-office, in the kitchen, in the dressing room. Internal Service works, it shakes a bit on the hierarchy pyramid and shows everybody what our trade is about. Employees helping employees Internal service is not about doing each other`s job. It is not a GM`s job to help waiters, it is not a rule that a chef helps serving, it is about creating a work environment that makes these beliefs. “Internal-service creates working culture – Working culture creates attitude – Attitude creates relations – Relations creates a good servicedelivery – A good service-delivery creates better sales, numbers, rates and budgets, and of course, more satisfied guests!” “The business identity is our identity – Our identity is the business` identity…”

• Create a culture out of the word internal-service, then newcomers and everybody will see an incorporated product. • Everybody can have a bad day, then the backroom and informing your colleagues and co-workers is important, then the internalservice will be towards you. • Everybody is equal, some people don`t like the idea of “serving”

About the author Tore Berger is Norwegian and works as consultant. Bartending, waiter education, wine tastings, article writing and Butler courses are some of the areas in his company. Tore Berger and Berger Consulting http://www.service-servering. com or tore.b.berger@gmail.com

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What does

Geo-Fencing have to do with Hotels? By Dan Phillips

There is a whole new language hoteliers need to learn. Terms like Bluetooth, mobile, native apps, geo-fencing, location based services, beacons, hyper-local immersion, personalization, and, in-location guest engagement, all make up this new language. One might ask, “What does all of that have to do with running a hotel?”

According to the MMGY “2014 Portrait of American Travelers,” when expressing why they travel for leisure, 62% responded Exploration, 57% for seeing Different Cultures, 51% wanted to experience New Cuisines, and, 40% stated Self Discovery. These represent all new challenges to hotel companies to attract guests to their properties.

Today, hotels cannot limit themselves to thinking that they simply provide hospitality. Today, hotels are lifestyle providers. Guests minimally expect to be informed as to what the hotel has to offer by way of amenities, but what they really want to know is what is happening in their location that caters to their needs and desires. Really, hotel companies are now in the business of telling their guests what they want before the even realize that’s what they are asking for.

Runtriz is a company that enables hoteliers to engage guests based on Wi-Fi and GPS locations by pushing relevant content and offers to the guest owned devices. Flinn Flexer, COO, states, “Guests expect, if not demand, great service while traveling, and hotels are investing in more effective – and efficient – ways to deliver on their service commitment. Like no other time in history do hoteliers have an opportunity to differentiate their properties and service offering.”

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A study conducted by EKN and AT&T (Hospitality Leads the Way in Location-Based Customer Engagement, 2015) reveals some very interesting findings: • Hotels that leverage in-location engagement strategies (meaning delivering content to guests while in the hotel) do so 60% of the time by email, and only 26% of the time via mobile app, while over two-thirds of guests carry a smartphone • While more than 50% of hotels can uniquely identify guests on site, 41% of them lack the insight as to what the guest actually wants • 98% of hotel companies state that they will be sending some form of location-based content, promotions or offers within the next 12 months


• 59% of hotel companies state that they will invest in in-location personalization strategies within the next 12 months • Personalized content and value differentiation are the two key critical elements of hotel companies’ in-location guest engagement strategy. Simply put, using guest insights gleaned from behavior and/or information they provide to deliver tailored messages that are relevant and timely has the potential to increase brand engagement, personalize the guest experience throughout their journey, digitize operations throughout the service platform, and drive higher levels of loyalty. RoamingAround is a mobile solutions provider to the hotel industry; Michael Garvin is the President and CEO. He states, “For the guest, this is ideal for gaining valuable information from the hotel that pertains to them and it is sent in a personalized method. No more spam or mass messaging! Not only millennials, but as the other generations have become more tech-savvy, we are seeing that if they have direct access to a brand on their mobile device, they tend to be more loyal. Many people receive a lot of junk email, pop up ads etc. so if you can break through all the clutter and really hone in on a personalized message or other types of deliverables, the guest is going to remember that and come back or visit your properties in a different market.” Most people are familiar with the term GPS, Global Positioning System, which can determine a device’s location within about fifty feet. A geo-fence is a

predetermined set of boundaries around a specific location that when a location-based services device enters it generates a notification that might then establish a push of content. A beacon does much the same thing, but primarily for indoors. It is an indoor positioning system that can detect a device via Bluetooth down to just several feet. Some people may think that leveraging these technologies could be deemed an invasion of privacy. The TCPA (Telephone Consumers Protection Act) does protect the public from privacy invasion. Hoteliers wanting to implement a strategy around location based

services should remember that first of all guests must opt in before this will work for them. They must turn on their location based services on their phone. And, they must have Bluetooth enabled. Once all of that is done, care should be taken to only push content that is applicable to that guest at that time on that trip. Gravy has a unique service offering to hotels in that it provides information on what guests do both at the hotel, and away from the hotel. It provides insight into the activities and interests of a hotel company’s guests. From Carolyn

Parent, Co-Founder of Gravy, “For hospitality companies, delivering personalized experiences and cultivating intimate relationships is vital to developing loyalty, and in so doing, minimizing price sensitivity and increasing visit frequency, length of stay and revenue generated from on-property amenities and services. With the evolution of mobile geo-location technologies, the hospitality industry can for the first time, understand guests’ actual local behaviors and gain knowledge on their interests and affinities, from where they prefer to dine and shop, to what local events they attend, to personalize the guest journey from pre-stay messaging and offers, to on-property experiences and post-stay outreach.” Diane Estner, President of DANNI Enterprises, commented, “With over twenty years in the hotel technology space behind me, today I search for disruptive solutions to present to my clientele. Location based services, leveraging the data gleaned from companies such as Gravy, are dynamic and leading edge now. Hotel companies need to leverage all of their guest behavior data they can get their hands on to deliver a unique, hyperlocal guest experience that will set social media on fire.”

About the author Dan Phillips is the owner of Dare to Imagine, a company specializing in hotel technology. Mr. Phillips has been in this industry since 1987 and lists many of the leading hotel companies as his clients. For questions or comments on this article, please contact him at dphillips@dare2i.com

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Individualized

Luxury Travel in 2015

By Elise Krentzel

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that todays luxury traveler’s expectations mirror technology. Technology is such an ubiquitous part of our lives few of us could function without it. Adaptation is rapid and many companies play catch up trying to gain a foothold with customer’s expectations. In the 90’s, push technology was the big kahuna. Push was about news feeds and information chosen by a reader then collated online and delivered to your inbox. Now the buzzword is customization. A user can customize just about everything from the content of social media to retail, travel arrangements to off premise activities. If you customize the user experience you’ll be ahead of the curve. The key is sculpting a memory that says to your guests, “I hear you”, “I see you” and “I respect you”. Do that and you’ve captured their loyalty. 48 ILHA

Customization = personalization. We no longer live in a world of mass production. Luxury travelers especially do not like mass merchandise. Look at Louis Vuitton or any of the fashion houses. The democratization of couture has led to individualized patterns, color choice or designs.The same holds true for the luxury traveler. She has different needs. Luxury Agents & How Their Clients Roll More and more travelers book direct on mobile devices and online. Yet there’s still room for luxury agents such as American Express, Virtuoso or Travel Leader Group who offer highly customized trips. American Express offers a service that resembles a personal shopper. For American Express Retail Travel Network travel agents, the biggest news is their high-end customers increasingly want to book the “whole”

package. American Express’ latest survey found that 74% of the group’s agents say their customers are asking them to shape the entire trip. 60% say their customers want help in finding the best destination and experience that is right for them, and 53% say they guide their customers who have done their research but need help in uncovering deals . According to the American Affluence Research Center’s 2014 survey of 4,500 of the wealthiest 10% of households with net worth of over $800,000, 43% book directly by calling airlines or hotels or using the web while the remaining 47% use a dedicated travel agent. 30% of this group is under 50 years of age. 63% said hotel loyalty programs are important. 52% said they were members of Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors or Starwood’s program. Leverage Tech to Communicate


More than 50% of travelers read other customer reviews and travel blogs before booking a trip, according to www.providesupport. com. Travelers are well read and informed. Because today’s traveler is in the know, your brand needs to communicate to the customer in a highly sophisticated manner. Think of it as an extension of your brands’ personal philosophy. Your brand must mirror the technology and the technology must mirror your brand. If your hotel offers a choice of toiletries or different textured and colored bedding, for example, this special USP would be promoted online and through social

media. Your guest chooses his/her amenities or sheet color prior to their arrival. Promotions can be made from this USP or co-sponsorships with manufacturers. There’s a world of possibilities. Just think about this. Before the web we read magazines and relied on our friends and family for travel recommendations. That hasn’t changed. In individual luxury travel, word-of-mouth is still very powerful. WOM comes in two forms: discussion and image sharing on and offline. Millennials and upper level earners want to be in the same zone as the rich and famous. They want the same access to luxury

destinations and as many can afford to, it is no longer a fantasy. Today’s luxury traveler expects more than the unusual amenities. They most value one of a kind experiences that will be shared with their family and friends. Sharing takes place through social media or through the TV screen. The days of printed photos glued in albums are gone. Type of Luxury Travel Luxury trips can include booking a customized day trip in one’s preferred vehicle of choice. Be it driving a 1950’s Fiat, a La Dolce Vita, in Tuscany to explore vintage wines, an adventure on horseback ILHA 49


what they experienced vs what they have bought. The aspiration is about authenticity and originality.”

in Mongolia or private access to ski slopes in Aspen, Colorado nothing is beyond consideration. Gaining access to places where the public generally cannot go such as Highclere Castle of Downtown Abbey fame is also popular. Whether booking a week’s holiday on a private island or discovering an almost extinct species in Antartica, every corner of the earth can be discovered. Herve Humler, CEO of Ritz-Carlton says, “Guests define themselves by

Mobile and tech access anywhere, anytime and on any platform is highly valued and used by this group for just about every personal whim and business need. Free Wi-Fi? Old news. Instead, this demographic uses touch points to order many varieties of food from inside or outside the property. They book their own spa appointment and would like to gain access to a property’s daily adventures via smart phone. A list of activities viewed on the hotel’s cable TV system seems outmoded in this context. People want their information when they want it, immediately. Having to return to their room or the front desk to get a

printed page of the activities is simply a waste of their time. In essence, customization + technology + personalization = your individualized luxury traveler of today and possibly tomorrow. Psssst: keep on your toes as the future may be here sooner than you think.

About the author Elise Krentzel is an unconventional multicultural creative in marketing strategy, new business development (on and offline) and brand positioning. Hospitality, Events Management, Entertainment and Travel are the threads of her life’s fabric. Colleagues call and trust her as a “true people person” with high EQ and analytical skills. She’s currently seeking the next big project in the hospitality industry while writing a travel blog http://travelwithelise.com. Her culinary tastes and keen nose have led her to discover the finest in hotels, lodging and restaurants around the world.

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What you didn’t know about

the Super Rich and why you should care? By Doug Gollan

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These are halcyon days for luxury hoteliers. There are not only more properties, there are more brands. There are more affluent consumers coming from more places. Yet affluence is a subjective term. When Oxfam made news on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos by releasing a report that the one percent were on the eve of controlling 50 percent of global wealth, it sent the press into a tizzy. “The Haves” versus “The Have Nots.” What wasn’t mentioned is being in the one percent really isn’t all that. In fact, there are 73 million people in the one percent if you do the math (7.3 billion world population x 1%). It’s roughly the same as if you counted every person who attended every game of a full season of Major League baseball. That’s 2,430 stadiums full of fans. More to the point, 75 percent of the one percent do not even have a net worth of $1 million, according to The Wealth Report 2015 from real estate advisor Knight Frank. And who would have thought growing up that being worth a million dollars wouldn’t get you that far. Then again saving a million dollars isn’t always that easy. If you have three kids in college at the same time, you are writing a check for at least $100,000 per annum. Private secondary schools aren’t that much less, health care, and the cost of buying anything that starts with a small ‘i’ is all costly. A 2010 analysis by The Washington Post found that a family of four making $250,000 and living in affluent suburbs of six major metropolitan areas – New York, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. – ranged between breakeven and being $30,000 under water. This included no luxury autos, no designer fashion 52 ILHA

and a whopping $4,000 for all vacations during the year. Needless to say, everyone who passes through your lobby is not a millionaire or even in the one percent club. That said, guests who come via deep discounts and have a panic attack when they open the mini bar probably add little to your bottom line. I’m sure when you meet with your advertising and public relations consultants you hear lots about Boomers, Xers, Millennials, Techsters with t-shirts who drink unsweetened lemonade, Pinterest, Instagram, social media, bloggers, search engine optimization and 50 other buzzworthy topics. But here’s a question. Do you have a strategy to reach the Super Rich? If the answer is no, let me give you some reasons why you should. If their answer is yes, read on as well. My guess is some of your perceptions about who they are may be a bit off. Wealth-X, a research firm that specializes in Ultra High Net Worth families, or UHNWs, or the Super Rich says that this sector spends $234 billion a year on luxury lifestyle products and services. Forty-five billion dollars of that is for travel, accounting for 22.5 percent of all global luxury spend. There is plenty more where that comes from. Estimates say that the Super Rich have a cumulative net worth of $50 trillion, more than the combined GDP of the top 15 economies and three times the American budget deficit. So what does it take to be UHNW? While wealth can be looked at various ways, the typical definition is a net worth of at least $30 million. This

universe of consumers who is worth so much, already spends so much and can spend so much more only totals 211,000 households worldwide. Since the most expensive part of most marketing propositions is often reached, the cost to get to as many consumers in your target as possible, the nice thing about the Super Rich is they are less costly to talk to than the folks who cross the street to Burger King. The next question then is who are the Super Rich and what are they like? Virtually all research studies say that as much as 90 percent of the UHNWs are self-made meaning most wealth is not inherited. It is new money. And while there is a share of royalty, financial services titans, other corporate CEOs as well Silicon Valley techsters, athletes and celebrities research to the Super Rich I was involved with revealed ranchers, farmers, waste management, developers, auto dealers, auto parts suppliers, distributors of vitamins, packaged goods, carbonated beverages and entrepreneurs who manufactured everything from shopping carts to shoes, electronic devices and packaging. Looking deeper, many of these Super Rich come from middle-class and blue-collar backgrounds. Billionaire Jon Huntsman grew up in a town so small it had a single room school. Oracle founder and owner of Lanai


Larry Ellison grew up in a tenement. For lots of these entrepreneurs, the early years were dedicated to a business idea. Huntsman invented the clamshell box that enabled McDonald’s to sell millions of Big Macs without them spilling all over you. Often time family members loaned money to fund the business. Credit cards were used for cash flow, not luxury vacations. The wife was on her computer, not doing online shopping, but keeping the books or tracking orders. During school vacations the kids worked in the warehouse or on the loading dock. Vacations were few and far between. Luxury hotels and resorts were out of the question. This means the UHNW population today who has the most money to spend with you was never the aspirational consumer sitting in their cubicles hoping for a promotion from manager to senior manager. They also didn’t grow up going shopping for saddles with dad before going to the riding club. The traditional stereotype of polo and the opera may just not be entirely correct as a magnet for the moneybags crowd. Don’t get me wrong. There are Super Rich

at polo matches. They own the teams. Same goes with the arts where there are very rich patrons. Compare Art Basel Miami with the annual University of George vs. University of Florida football game. The latter gets as many private jets in one day as the former does for its four-day run. Major institutions get hundreds of private jets flying in with wealthy alumni for games. Fishing tournaments like the Bisbee attract the Super Rich as does hunting and even triathlons. One only needs to look at the new wave of professional sports stadiums to understand that there is plenty of money beyond museums and cultural events. Many of these arenas are built solely to increase the number of luxury boxes. They have a combination of seats facing the field and an interior private lounge with bar and gourmet eats. Some stadiums have several hundred of these luxury boxes and prices for a single season can range up to $1 million. The growth of global wealth has been a key to filling the coffers of luxury properties. And while emerging economies having been fueling luxury hotels stays, there are some potential

sources of Super Rich customers that don’t necessarily get attention. When I ran UHNW population numbers from Wealth-X for both countries and U.S. states and merged them 23 of the 50 largest territories were American states. California has the third largest Super Rich population in the World, New York is sixth and Texas ninth (no surprise there). What’s more interesting is Ohio has a larger Super Rich population than Saudi Arabia. Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota and New Jersey each have a larger UHNW population than either the United Arab Emirates or Russia. North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Arizona and Oklahoma all have Super Rich populations bigger than Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kuwait, South Africa, Thailand, and Qatar as examples. As luxury hotel rates go higher and new properties offer more suites and even villas, and new brands emerge, the need to find more customers who can afford these price points will increase. If you haven’t already, may I suggest you put the Super Rich on the list for your next communications review?

About the author Doug Gollan is an expert in the Ultra High new Worth luxury lifestyle. He is co-founder and founding Editor of Elite Traveler, a global magazine distributed aboard private jets and superyachts from 2001 through 2014. He was co-author of “The Sky’s the Limit: Marketing to the new Jet Set” and is working on his next book “Sales Superstars: Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich.” He has appeared on nBC nightly news, FoX news, MSnBC, The Travel Channel and quoted in major media, including The new york Times, The Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post and Bloomberg. He currently writes about luxury travel for ForbesLife.com and the business of luxury for Luxury Society. He is a member of The Luxury Marketing Council. His blog about luxury marketing to UHnWs is at douggollan.com

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Effective Hospitality Leadership:

Moving from an

Operational Mindset to a Strategic Perspective By Alan Wilson

A growing trend within hospitality is recruiting leaders from other industry sectors such as airlines and fast moving consumer goods because it is perceived that they can deliver a strategic rather than operational style of management. Although the core values of customer service must be maintained at any level on the 54 ILHA

luxury hotel career ladder, managers aiming to move into more influential roles need to adjust their approach to reflect the changing market. Operational vs Strategic Poor customer experiences can drastically impact on revenues so it is easy to understand how managers

can get caught up in day-to-day operations, to ensure customers remain satisfied. Concerns like ensuring housekeeping finishes ahead of check-in and the bar and kitchen stay fully stocked are essential. But for those in leadership roles, new challenges arise. The nature of the hospitality industry


has changed dramatically over the last decade. The widespread use of social media and digital marketing means the customer’s experience rarely starts and finishes at the front-desk. Luxury hotels no longer compete solely with one another but with alternative accommodation suppliers like serviced apartments and AirBnB. Online travel agents and revenue management have become crucial considerations in strategy development. These challenges require managers to start thinking strategically about how their hotel is impacted and what they can do in response. What is a strategic perspective? This involves a transition to thinking more analytically with a wider, long-term view. Talented hoteliers who have dedicated their careers to tending to the daily details may find it difficult to adopt this perception shift. A singular approach, however, isn’t enough when these individuals reach the next level. If a hospitality leader fails to partner their past experience with a strong, strategic understanding of their business’ current position and its future direction, a plethora of issues will ultimately impact on the success of the business. There are three key traits that will help ambitious managers switch from a day-to-day approach to a strategic perspective: the determination to continuously learn and develop, the ability to drive innovation and an openness to new technology. Learning and development One way in which organisations can help employees develop their business skillset is by putting them forward for executive education. These programmes are run by

universities and involve the employee taking some time out of their role to study and complete assignments which often relate to their own organisation. International academic partners and students work together, sharing their insight and expertise. This helps participants gain the essential global perspective required to create and deliver successful longterm strategies. An alternative route is bringing management training professionals into the business to deliver bespoke workshops, tailored to the teams’ specific development needs. Driving innovation In a market where heritage is often a core component of brands, new processes may be met with reluctance by those unwilling to change. However, with competition and economic restraints impacting on even the most profitable companies, it is crucial that businesses within the luxury hotel market become more agile to remain profitable. In order to help potential leaders start thinking innovatively they should try to create a culture of entrepreneurship; encouraging employees to behave like entrepreneurs whilst working as part of a bigger organization. This concept is especially popular with leading technology businesses like Google and Apple. However, other industries, including hospitality, are beginning to catch up. A simple way to get the ball rolling is by holding weekly business improvement brainstorms where everyone’s ideas are heard. This environment will nurture and support ambitious employees, empowering them to solve problems and drive positive change for the entire company - all core qualities of a strong hospitality leader.

Additionally the consistent inflow of fresh ideas will lead to better business processes. Embracing new technology In the age of constant connectivity, rising stars in the luxury hotel market need to be advocates for new technology, educating and engaging other staff on how to get the most out of it. To advance to a strategic level, senior staff need to be aware of how competitors are using technology and what opportunities they are missing out on that can be taken advantage of. Potential leaders must learn to analyse the pros and cons, rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the latest trend, so that they invest wisely in the technology that will streamline operations, improve the customer experience and generate a return on investment. By creating a culture that encourages your team to continuously learn, drive forward ideas and champion new technology, you will be equipping them with the knowledge, perspective and skillset they need to anticipate and react to strategic developments. And you will be nurturing those who have progressed their career in your company and understand the meaning of luxury hospitality.

About the author Professor Alan Wilson is a Professor of Marketing, and Director of the Executive Masters in Hospitality & Tourism Leadership programme at Strathclyde Business School. He is a Visiting Professor of Services Marketing at Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Adding Wellness Value to Guests – The Health Paradigm is Shifting! By Pamela Levin 56 ILHA

The world of health and wellness is shifting. And yes, it’s a good shift. In fact, it’s a marvelous shift. When most people think of improving their health and wellness, they think about eating nutritious, healthy foods and implementing an exercise regime into their daily. These ideas have tremendous merit and are essential as a start to optimizing health. But a beautiful shift of east meets west has arrived. The road to truly perfect health now focuses on not only your body, but your mind and spirit/soul. From believing what you tell yourself (mind talk) to following your passion(s), to philanthropic activities, the wellness paradigm is shifting to a picture of human holistic “wholeness”. And yes, it is quite beautiful and so needed. So how does this changing paradigm of wellness affect luxury hotels? What can luxury hotels do to ensure that their guests are informed of these changes and what products/ services/programs can be offered to allow guests to experience the shift in wellness?


How can top hotels best engage with their guests to give them permission to relax, rest, rejuvenate and rejoice in some of the wonderful changes on the wellness front? Guests will return for an awesome, attentive and interactive experience where they can learn. And better yet, they will tell their family and friends— resulting in repeat and NEW business! First, luxury hotels with a spa facility need to truly embrace the wellness circle. Yes, it is a circle, with many points. Managers and facilitators need to understand what wellness quests their guests may truly be searching for during their visit(s). Perhaps a questionnaire to their current clientele base is in order. Not every hotel should

automatically offer the same services/programs. This is why it is imperative for hotels to query their clientele to determine which services/programs would bring them back or which new services might be added. Repeat business can be big. But spa/hotel management needs to spend the time and energy to determine what its clientele loves. Next, can they provide it for them at a reasonable cost? Can they provide wellness “value” to guests? Second, as a huge traveler and spa lover, I am a lover of life, a learner. If I am going to a luxury hotel for business or pleasure, it’s nice to know I can be pampered there. I always hope for some special hotel services that are a bit different, that make me remember my visit

1. Consider helping your guests get better sleep. This could range from providing a specialty mattress to comfy hypoallergenic pillows. Maybe just providing some soothing music and hot tea during turndown service may intrigue them. Maybe a little note with some beautiful words of restful wishes left on their pillow are in order. The little touches DO matter. 2. Consider providing a healthier late night/snack menu from room service and the in-room refrig. Stock the in-room fridge with healthy foods, fruits, nutritional shakes, protein bars, instead of candy bars, chips, liquor and soda. Add healthy snacks to the late night in-room dining menu. 3. Give guests incentives to attend yoga/meditation programs offered. Perhaps they could receive a coupon for one or two made-to-order nutritional shakes (made with real food) at the hotel bar or restaurant. 4. Shed some light on holistic wellness by offering specials at your spa. Create new services (based upon responses from guest questionnaires) which will be different from other hotels. Brand your specialty. Make it your signature service.

there. What can the hotel offer that I can’t receive at another hotel? Is it a branded program, a branded specialty health menu or even just a seemingly small way for guests to better enjoy their experience? Look at how Hilton Hotels branded the Heavenly Bed feature. They even sell the Heavenly mattresses to guests and others to place in their home. If high-end hotels don’t provide some special benefit, they may be missing the boat on new customers and on repeat business. Luxury hotels have a wonderful ability to capitalize (in a good way) on the changing wellness paradigm. Here are some ideas to consider, after, of course, you query your own guests to get a feel for what they really desire:

5. Inform your guests that you are dedicated to making their stay particularly healthy. Make it a point to have a manager call each guest to ask how they can better accommodate them in a healthier fashion. This type of person to person guest care is worth its time and energy multifold. 6. For frequent recurring business or personal guests, create an easy health program which affords them the opportunity to have free access to free weights, yoga mats, yoga/meditation/exercise videos in the privacy of their room. 7. For those hotels which do NOT have a spa facility, partner with a top-notch local spa or wellness center. Direct your guests there with special incentives. 8. Create a Private Facebook Page for your frequent guests who are particularly interested in staying healthy while traveling. This can provide an outstanding opportunity to engage with your guests AFTER their stay and keep them updated on hotel happenings. This will help to keep guests connected and to come back to stay with you.

ILHA 57


9. Support a philanthropic cause which resonates most with your hotel staff and guests. This could range from Feeding Hungry Kids to Ensuring Literacy at all Levels. Host a monthly event at your hotel and promote it in your Guest Newsletter. Make a difference. Guests will further connect with you when they feel an authenticity behind the corporate veil. Your choice of Giving Back will have a tremendous impact on their image of you and their decision to revisit with you. 10. Continue to query your guests on their prior visits, experiences and how you can impact their wellness on future visits. You have an opportunity to truly add value to the wellness of your guest. If optimizing wellness is important while they travel, you have a captive market. Nourish it.

58 ILHA

These are just some ideas. Most importantly, realize that the wellness realm has plenty of opportunities for it to better relate and engage with your guests. Your guests are searching for answers. Most want to get/stay healthier even when they travel. Your guests want to wind down, relax, and rejuvenate. They want comfort and a bit of pampering. They want to feel connected to wellness even when they are away from home. Query them. Discover how you can best serve their needs during this east-meets-west shift in wellness.

About the author Pamela Levin is the Founder of Create Amazing Health, LLC and the self-branded website PassionatelyPam.com. She focuses on fusing ancient holistic wellness wisdom with cuttingedge health ideas. Her academic education in engineering and business (MBA-University of Michigan) with additional training from the Deepak Chopra Center in Perfect Health. Her mission is to help others understand and participate in the changing paradigm of health and wellness. www.passionatelypam.com


By Nick Baker

GLďƒžBAL TRAVEL Global travel continues to expand in 2015, with emerging tourism markets such as China and Brazil expected to make a big impact on international tourism. Capturing these new potential guests requires a strong online presence, with a fair amount of thought dedicated to the question of translation into Portuguese and Chinese. Greater numbers of international travelers are likely to affect return rates 60 ILHA

- International tourists, as opposed to domestic tourists and business travelers, are less likely to return to the same location twice. Follow up marketing for individual properties must consider whether to focus on chasing return bookings or acquiring recommendations and reviews. Boutique Hotel Experiences The boutique hotel experience is set to


gain popularity throughout 2015 as the number of millennial travelers continues to grow. Those travelers aged between 18 - 35 are the fastest growing demographic in the market. They place a strong focus on unique experiences and tend to favor the individuality boutique hotels provide. The significance of boutique hotels is apparent by the interest large hotel chains are showing in them, the recent acquisition of the Kimpton Hotel chain by the InterContinental Hotels Group is the proof in the pudding that boutique is big business in 2015. Hotels offering a boutique experience should highlight the uniqueness of their property to potential guests. High-quality photographs emphasizing the hotel’s

decor and its unique aspects should be given prime locations on the property’s (responsive) website. Hotel loyalty programs should encourage tech-savvy millennial guests via perks and prizes to share their boutique experiences and promote the property on social media. Customer Service Great customer service will always be vital to the success of any hotel, in fact, any industry, however this year there is more of a focus on allowing guests to be more self-sufficient. While a friendly and welcoming reception desk and concierge will go a long way with some guests, others prefer the freedom to find information using themselves via the property’s app or website.

Engaging with customers has always been an important part of top quality customer service, now it’s important to do so online as well as in-house. Whether that be responding to reviews or answering questions posted on social media, guest interaction is still important even when the trend is for it to take place online.

About the author Nick Baker is the Community Manager for Appy Hotel (www.appyhotel.com), a hotel digital marketing startup based in SE Asia, which offers mobile applications, fully responsive websites, and Loyalty/CRM to about 2,000 hotels worldwide. Reach him at nick@appyhotel.com

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ILHA 61


SPOTLIGHT ON Valletta, Malta By Andrea Vrazhalska

Valletta (Malta), the smallest capital city in Europe, and a gem situated in the blue Mediterranean Sea represents a breathtaking tourist attraction with its original splendor 62 ILHA

and beauty. It is no wonder that this designer city of the 16th century, which was built by gentlemen for gentlemen, has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage

Site and it has also been announced as the European City of Culture for 2018. Its unique combination of baroque architecture and fortifications also allows its visitors


as a Commercial and Heavy Industry hub in the past but are being nowadays transformed into Culture and Tourism trendy hotspots. This exciting 440 years long transformation is only a glimpse of the mysterious ability of this city to transform vibrant new ideas and put them into practice. The secret for attracting tourism in this dynamic city is simple, the ability to accommodate old and new and big and small all together. All these different spices and ingredients have given rise to a new trend in boutique accommodation in Valletta, offering a distinct style, intimacy, warmth and visitor’s luxury experience. These new places offer uniquely designed rooms, but the positive surprises do not stop here. Once upon a time inhabited by the creators and architects of Valletta, the famous Grand Masters of the Order of Saint John, these old converted palazzos and townhouses are a step back into history whilst offering the ultimate luxury experience of a boutique and stylish accommodation. The sophisticated touch of a tailored boutique service, stay and experience make travel so worthwhile and fascinating,

to enjoy the start of various famous boat regattas or arrive themselves on luxurious yachts or liners. Valletta and its magnificent Harbors have seen War and Peace, served ILHA 63


especially when it comes to this small capital city. Hip and fashionable are also terms that define this experiential accommodation that nevertheless promotes heritage. The uniqueness of these properties starts with the ancient fabric of such building but what adds up to it is the local history and culture and the intimate space it provides that makes anyone feel its authenticity beyond expectations. Many of these boutique living experiences offer stunning views over the grand harbor, where the light and scenes change by the hour. The overall impression of such a magical universe, designer or antique furniture and art gives a glimpse of what it must have been like in the past. Valletta, as well as these boutique palazzos and townhouses, are living outdoor and indoor museums of architecture, history, art and religion making each one of them world heritage sites. Valletta tourism is defined by the concept where old is mixed with the new, whilst still preserving the glorious stories of the grand past and those victorious battles. The well-preserved and renovated historical buildings of Valletta distinguish it and make it unique compared to big European capitals such as London, Paris or Rome. Valletta is also a boutique venue when it comes to the numerous bars and entertainment venues that offer a hip vibe, and sophisticated atmosphere for both young fashionable crowds, as well as older generation people. Small matters and small is beautiful, Valletta might not be the Big Apple neither does it attract the ultra-rich 64 ILHA

and famous as in Monte-Carlo but some Hollywood celebrities find the blended experience of old and new, of history and ancient battles to modern stylish and sophisticated palazzos uniquely glamorous. It has the look and intimate touch that tourist seek so intensely nowadays. Whether you’d like to enjoy a glass of wine in an old converted house of character, centuries old cave or a palazzo or have the ultimate tourist experience, Valletta can give you all that whilst also offering an easy to

do business environment and unique living experience.

About the author Andrea Vrazhalska (pa@kinglongeurope.com) Valletta Boutique Living is a new concept in lifestyle development, providing for both commercial and residential needs of its clients.


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Luxury Hoteliers 2015 2nd Quarter  

International Luxury Hotel Association's Luxury Hoteliers Magazine is the premier magazine covering the luxury hotel industry.

Luxury Hoteliers 2015 2nd Quarter  

International Luxury Hotel Association's Luxury Hoteliers Magazine is the premier magazine covering the luxury hotel industry.

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