Boutique Design Events and Trade Fairs

Boutique Design’s peek into global hospitality trends continued last month at the International Hotel Investment Forum held from March 5-7 in Berlin. No matter where BD is in the world, the same buzzwords come into fashion to express the hospitality industry’s evolution – underpinned, of course, by shifts in societal preferences. In the past, popular vernacular included the phrase “sense of place” – which Rosewood even trademarked – and then more recently “authentic” has been rehashed. The last year or so, “experiential” has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues, and now, at IHIF, the time has come for “transformative” opportunities. And why not? Given the increasing momentum for change and ever-louder voices demanding it, it seems people are ripe for doing things differently.  

That’s not to say there isn’t value in authentic experiences that convey a sense of place. But now, hotel guests want even more. Here’s what some of the industry leaders at IHIF told us they are doing to meet this challenge. 

Idea Incubators: 
Karl Bieberach, chief development officer, Rosewood Hotels, shared that the group’s internal thinktank closely evaluates how they engage with people and can make the most of influencer marketing. This laboratory helps the brand have an “indie” mentality with wellness and social causes, and led to the creation of KHOS, its new, soon-to-debut business luxury lifestyle brand.   

Transformative Experiences as a Commodity: 
Valeriano Antonioli, ceo, Lungarno Collection, explained that rare, privileged experiences can be transformative. Rooted in the legacy of handmade Ferragamo shoes, the Italian hotel group knows about unique personalization, particularly with its “haute couture” Portrait brand. Whether guests wish to pray in the Pope’s private church, have their dogs married, or even have a staff member run the New York marathon with them, it’s possible. Completing Autumn 2020 is a transformation of the world’s second oldest Catholic seminary (and Europe’s oldest, built in 1564) into the Portrait Milano, replete with artistic and architectural treasures seldom seen before by the public. 

Tech-driven Transformation:
With 72 brands, the luxury conglomerate LVMH has a wealth of data for understanding its customers’ mindsets. Caroline Domange-Harding, head of development and marketing, LVMH, said it’s all about how they use their brand knowledge. A luxury brand can always go higher so long as guests feel they are getting value for what they pay. While tech tools will never replace empathy, hotels that understand how to use them can make guests more comfortable.

New Job Categories: 
Leon Avigad, founder, Brown Hotels at Leopard Hospitality, has a director of ambience and a director of good times on his team. Richard Arnold, chief development officer, Auberge Resorts, shared the group was looking for a director of brand experience. Duties? According to LinkedIn, they include “creating experiences that become lasting memories to our luxury travelers” and delivering “deeper connections to our guests and a feeling of soulfulness.” 

So what’s the next buzzword in hospitality? If you ask Joseph Fischer, owner, Vision Lodging and Hospitality, he’ll tell you it’s “memories.” (Maybe Fischer and Arnold chatted at IHIF.) Experiences are short-lived, but memories last forever. Perhaps transformation is what happens along the path while those memories are being made.