How has your company performed in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2019? (No need for specific figures)
Our industry is a very competitive one and each market is a little different, so results vary from country to country. But overall and despite a very cautious economic outlook at the beginning of 2018, we saw a strong performance especially in Q3 and Q4. As the travel and tourism market is flooded with millions of new customers from all parts of the world that now have access to disposable income and are willing to spend it exploring the world, our outlook for 2019 is quite optimistic.
Which do you consider as the biggest disruptors of the luxury travel industry of the past years?
Immersive, authentic experiences have been the talk of the industry for some time now. Whilst this macro trend is applicable to most travellers, it is particularly prevalent amongst luxury travellers. Luxury travellers are embarking on trips with the clear desire to experience true culture of a destination, immersing into authentic moments and are more and more enabled to co-design their experiences. A part from this, health-conscious and well-being travel has become more and more popular with key words like “remoteness”, “disconnectivity” and “self-discovery”.
What are the defining elements of the luxury DNA of your brand?
Kempinski is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group, founded in Berlin in 1897 by Berthold Kempinski, whose enterprising and pioneering approach to hospitality paved the way for what we stand for today. One of our key elements is craftmanship: Throughout our hotels everything is crafted with highest skills, with attention to detail, be it a delicious plate, an incredible cocktail or an experience. To our understanding true luxury is a rare – it requires specialist knowledge, artistry and skills to provide tailored solutions to each guest. And of course we are proud to be able to build on our tradition, which we understand more along the lines of timeless elegance. This means a celebration of the glamour from days past, updated to suit evolving tastes for a fast-moving, global world.
To what extent discerning travellers towards seek experiences and the utmost in personalisation? Tell us about your approach.
Our customers seek authentic and unique experiences. Our heritage allows us to blend the know-how of more than 120 years of European heritage with local traditions in the destinations where we operate. Wherever we operate, we concentrate on creating special and memorable moments for our guests as we invest considerable resources into crafting bespoke experiences. This goes along with a remarkable sense of place while never compromising on our timeless elegance of European style.
Recruiting, nurturing and retaining talent has become increasingly complex. What is your take on ensuring a consistently high customer service at your hotels? All together we are a team of more than 24,000 people across 4 continents. The connection between us are our shared values encouraging creativity and innovation, promoting development of individual expertise and are rooted in our authentic care for what we do. These pillars uphold our employees’ motivation and beautiful performance delivering high quality service every day with passion and crafting these personal moments for demanding guests.
Which are your biggest sourcing international markets? Are there any particular markets you anticipate particularly high growth in the mid-term? Of course our traditional sourcing markets such as US, UK, Germany and Russia remain of highest interest for us. In the mid-term we expect definitely more growth from India and we have lately enhanced our focus on this fastest growing outbound travel market. India is ideal for weddings, honeymoons, business and leisure likewise and we have established Global Sales offices in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. And we have a long standing relationship to the constantly growing Chinese market. Kempinski has been the first five-star luxury hotel in China back in 1992 and today we are one of the leading luxury brands in this booming market with 20 hotels in operation. China is a top key market to us.
How have branding / communications changed in the digital era?
Our living environment is today a combination of online and offline spaces that co-exist together, defining our everyday routine. The rapid development of the digital world brings novel and innovative solutions and peer-to-peer communication is outstandingly important in the technological environment of hotel industry. This type of communication, together with the spreading of smart devices have revolutionized scheduling, administration and finances, and also opened new horizons for the introduction of innovative sales and marketing technologies including information and experience sharing via digital platforms. In line with new trends of travelling, there is a dynamically growing demand for special tailor-made offers beyond mass tourism, as conscious consumers expect personalized solutions that answer their individual needs. This is why creating personalised experiences is always on our company’s forefront.
Tell us more about your expansion plans. Is your company also an investor or purely a third party operator?
As a privately held, independent company we take a long-term approach. Our growth strategy is selective as we are not in a rush to grow quickly. What is more important to us is to grow in a way that is in line with our values and brand. We are a management company and our overseeable size allows us to deliver personal service not only to our guests, but also to our owners. We know each one of our owners personally and we celebrate the cultural diversity of each individual hotel – not “one size fits all” approach
You recently opened a palace style flagship property in Dubai. Tell us more.
End of November we opened another stand-out property, the Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai, a magnificent palace by the sea delivering an unrivalled level of design celebrating craftsmanship and reviving luxury on a regal scale. This Palace offers 391 luxurious rooms, suites and villas, is flanked by a 500m long private beach on the Palm and will certainly cater to demanding guests of the highest level with its eight exquisite restaurants and bars including miX by Alain Ducasse, the first restaurant in the United Arab Emirates for the three Michelin-starred chef. Every aspect in this place is designed to perfection from the 6,400 chandeliers, the hand-painted 24-carat gold leaf handcrafted details to the 3,000 s qm Cinq Mondes Spa.
Which international destinations are you particularly targeting for expansion?
Our continued expansion is happening in key markets of China, South-east Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as more to come in Latin America and of course Europe, our market of origin. In 2019 we will see two more incredible new properties joining the Kempinski Family: In spring we are welcoming first guests at The Apurva Kempinski Bali on the southern beaches of the island, a hotel featuring 475 well-appointed guest rooms, iconic suites and exclusive villas as well as five eclectic dining venues. Facilities include an ocean-facing spa, a 60-metre swimming pool and ideal venues for events, business meetings and weddings, including a beachfront wedding chapel. This place is definitely a curated design masterpiece. Later in the year we are expecting to open the Cabrits Resort & Spa Dominica in the Caribbean. This hideaway resort is surrounded by the Cabrits National Park, an area known for its natural beauty being home to 365 rivers, waterfalls and boiling springs.
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