The separation between hotel owners and operators in recent years has been bad news for guests, agreed a panel of creative movers and shakers at the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) in Berlin this week.
Chaired by Nick van Marken, global head - advisory, travel, hospitality and leisure, Deloitte, the session on "New Thinking from those who have Broken the Mould - Redefining the Art of Hotel Keeping" saw input from a panel which included André Balazs, chief executive of André Balazs Properties, and Tyler Brûlé, editor in chief, Monocle.
Van Marken suggested that the "divorce between owner and operator has had a negative impact on the consumer's experience and, while it was positive for shareholders, consumers have suffered".
Meanwhile, Balazs said that developing a hotel was similar to a film production and explained that the industry was one of hospitality, not lodging, and therefore he constantly strived to develop something with a strong personality. "Consumers expected the product offering to be highly differentiated and that differentiating your hotel on the basis that it has a comfortable bed is frankly pathetic".
Brûlé pointed out that the industry needed to be mindful that the US and UK concept of service didn't automatically translate throughout the Asia markets and called for all those involved in future developments to travel as much as possible throughout the emerging markets to better understand the audience and their expectations.
The session concluded with a plea to place benchmarking as a priority, which should be done by visiting hotels, not reading through pages of and statistics research.
By Janet Harmer
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