Service Levels Will Determine Upper-Luxury Hotel Success – CoStar
Even Guests Loyal to the Brand Want the Hotel Itself To Tell a Story
Guests with plenty of cash have an ardent desire to travel and experience hotels, especially at the luxury end, but revenge trips and pent-up demand will dissipate quickly if hotels fail to tell a story and service and experience do not meet expectations.
Luxury hotels must transcend their brands to be all that discerning guests require.
As memories of the pandemic blur just a little and revenge travel continues to fill luxury hotel rooms at high rates and strong occupancy, such hotels must stand out and be unique, said Timo Gruenert, CEO of the Oetker Collection, which includes hotels such as Le Bristol, Paris; The Lanesborough, London; and Jumby Bay Island, Antigua.
“Guests appreciate that you show a very strong focus on the individuality of the asset. How much authenticity is left once you’ve put [any hotel] within a corporate environment?” he said during a panel of speakers at Alvarez & Marsal’s European Hospitality Investment Conference.
He said his guests might stay at one of his hotels for five days or more and still not realize they stayed at an Oetker property.
Roeland Vos, president and CEO of Belmond, said even if guests are loyal to the brand, “each hotel is on a journey of its own brand positioning,”
“For guests, it is about the hotel first,” he said. “For example, the Cipriani. They search for this, and they pay for this. It is the property first, then the brand.”
Ian Livingstone, chairman of London & Regional Properties, said that if the future of luxury is experiential, which most agree it is, then the name of a hotel is crucial.
“One big issue we had with operators is that they would not allow us to manage it in the way we wanted,” he said of his hotels in general.
Belmond’s Vos said the hotel brand does not have a secondary position in any partnership, just a slightly different role.
He said an individual luxury hotel must be a greater storyteller than hotels further down the ladder in price point.
“Guests do not want a home away from home, but the experience they do not get at home,” he said.
Sarmad Zok, CEO of Dubai-based sovereign wealth fund Kingdom Hotel Investments, said his firm owns the widest array of hotels represented on the panel, including 23% of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts; 6% of Accor and ownership in individual iconic hotels such as The Savoy, which is managed by Accor.
He said for owners of larger, wider portfolios, when “trying to pursue an element of growth, there are limitations in individuality. We have positions in hotels, brand and management companies, so there are conflicts.”
Zok said in the case of Paris’ Four Seasons Hotel George V, the hotel bears its own logo, not the one of Four Seasons.
“We have the best of all worlds. The Four Seasons brand is a level of quality and loyalty, while the George V brand is individuality and something truly special.
“Lifestyle is not determined fully by product standard. Luxury is determined by the pricing for any product,” he said.
Vos added that “lifestyle is the person, not the brand.”
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