What Luxury Means to the Ones Who Create It

EHL Students - Bachelor | 14 Nov, 2016

Anyone thinking that the luxury sector is slowly being phased out by the low budget sector or the hoteliers' foe, AirBnb, should start thinking again.  While listening to the luxury breakout session during the Hot.E conference taking place at the London Hilton Bankside, September 26th and 27th in London, United Kingdom, the four panelists made it clear that travelers are not going to start settling for less. 

Hearing Nevius Glussi, a graduate of EHL in 2002 and now Senior Director of Development at Rosewood Hotel Group, speak about the luxurious Rosewood Brand, no one in the conference room could help but want to invest. Nevius clearly knows how to promote his brand, while the audience of investors, bankers and hoteliers were sitting on the edge of their seats wanting to hear more. Rosewood properties are a “sense of place, a feel of where it is” he stated while speaking with great passion for the kinds of buildings Rosewood acquires.  He was describing each building with such enthusiasm, making them seem almost unreachable, that almost everyone in the audience felt like taking a long holiday at a Rosewood Hotel.

Following Nevius Glussi, Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels explained that his company is “…making it harder for hotels to join the brand and to stay in the brand”.

In the article Making a Case for Small Luxury Hotels by Forbes, writer Doug Gollan (May, 2016) quotes Mr. Boyen mentioning that: 

“Of the 50 hotels that didn’t achieve the minimum score, 20 have been removed while the balance improved their scores enough to stay in the group.”

Doug has highlighted the point of Small Luxury Hotels getting more serious about the level of luxuriousness offered. Mr. Boyen keeps ahead of the game and talks about focusing on the millennials.  He says that in order to keep up with the trend, luxury hotels need to create an experience which brings out the “emotions, memories, experiences, and adventure as long as it is safe”, which will be one of the new guideline to stay within the brand.

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Nevius confirmed Filip Boyen’s thought about keeping up with the millennials. As the moderator, Philip C. Camble Director at Whitebridge Hospitality, asks each panelist where they would personally choose to go to for a holiday, Nevius replied the Belmond Splendido Mare in Portofino. He then directly linked that specific question to the new trends in luxury holidaying, explaining that luxury hotels need to be able to “cater for the new modern family.”  He elaborated by stating that Rosewood is looking beyond the "first trip" indicators and figuring out what the traveler needs next.  He expresses the way Rosewood creates their competitive advantage by making the hotels feel more like a residence by “reducing the size of the main door” or putting candies in the lobbies to make it feel more homey. 

Although hotels are not their main focus, another panelist, Valentin Sadan, Senior Director of Development at Belmond, shared his view on what luxury is to him:

“Giving a guest a unique experience.That is what luxury is all about”.

He also explained the prosperity that is still growing in the luxury sector. Hotel News Now article Luxury Hotels Stay in Fashion in Europe by Terence Baker (December, 2015) stated

“… Deloitte analysts revealed that since 2008, €11 billion ($12 billion) worth of investment had entered Europe solely in the luxury end of the hotel market.”

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Additionally hearing from the panelists a year later, nothing seems to be slowing down any time soon.

If investors, bankers, competitors did not leave the room with a fresh mind about luxury and keen on following the trends described by the panelists, then they may not have been listening closely enough.  Luxury brands are getting tougher with the level of luxuriousness they expect and making sure they always keep the experience factor in mind.  There are definitely no signs of the luxury segment giving up the battle.

Author: ABROMEIT Gloria - EHL Bachelor Student

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