Simon Casson (pictured), Four Seasons’ president, hotel operations Europe, the Middle East and Africa, urged hoteliers to “seriously look for what differentiates your brand” in the wake of high-profile consolidation deals in the sector over the past year.
While considering the impact on Four Seasons of Marriott International’s takeover of Starwood last year, Casson said: “We are pretty relaxed about it because it allows us to present a distinct counterpoint to customers.”
Jenni Benzaquen, Marriott’s vice-president, luxury brands Europe, said the Marriott-Starwood deal, which has resulted in a collection of 360 luxury hotels under eight brands, said the sector had to “unlearn what we think about luxury” to stay relatable. She added: “People don’t want our grandmothers’ luxury… for many people it’s not about having the best silver dining set,” she added.
Tim Davis, vice-president brand and marketing for Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), said it was a “really exciting time” for the company owing to growing demand for more intimate properties.
“People want to really ‘stay’ in a destination and want to be treated differently – as a name and definitely not a room number,” he said.
Casson told delegates that Four Seasons considered independent hoteliers, such as those helped by SLH, to be its biggest competitors – rather than other big luxury brands – because of the personalisation such establishments could offer.