The Discipline of Luxury Touchpoints are Not Just for the Leisure Traveler

By Dana Orlando General Manager, Hotel Ivy | September 10, 2017

“It is attention to detail that makes the difference between average and stunning” - Francis Atterbury

Group business is a wonderful driver of market share in all tiers of our industry. The ability to understand the details of luxury touchpoints can be an important competitive advantage. I hope to share a few stories and examples of how applying the disciplined approach to crafting luxury touchpoints can create tremendous energy, increase group market share and achieve authentic guest engagement.

The reasons I love leading luxury hotels and resorts are many. Hotel companies are continually seeking to understand and define what the discerning traveler desires and how to deliver at a level of creativity and consistency that exceeds expectations. I like to define touchpoints as any product or moment experienced by the guest, specific to a hotel or resort landscape. Our goal, as leaders, is to understand what these touchpoints or opportunities for interaction are and then to architect the experiences at an elevated level at every one of these defined opportunities. The best international luxury hotel brands have done a tremendous job of understanding touchpoints that pertain to the individual leisure traveler.

I will discuss how applying the same disciplined approach to creating luxury touchpoints for the leisure traveler can create magic for the meeting planner, corporate or incentive group, and their individual participants. When the brilliant sculptor, Michelangelo, was asked how he carved the masterpiece known as David from a raw slab of marble his answer was simple. He said, “It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.” It is with creating truly memorable experiences for groups choosing to invest their time and money at a high-end hotel or resort that we exceed their expectations and cultivate loyalty. Our quest is to make the group experience, as a whole, and for each individual, a masterpiece. We “chip away” to create this experience with tools known as luxury touchpoints.

There are, literally, countless opportunities to focus on, especially as it pertains to the exceptional execution of a meeting or event at a luxury hotel. The most basic touchpoints include an immaculate hotel in addition to hiring and training hotel employees that are friendly and understand what it means to have the heart of a servant. At the luxury level, there is an expectation that hotels be in unique destinations with a strong sense of place.

Our group clients expect to see touchpoints that include a higher quality of linen, china, glass, silver, and culinary creativity. Technology, fast, easy to use Wi-Fi, and state of the art audio visual, are a must. As important as these are, I would like to share three touchpoints that are often overlooked, but can create very loyal group guests for life: Empowerment, “procovery”, and discipline.

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.