1708889615 Luxury hotels want to reach the hearts of the rich

Luxury hotels want to reach the hearts of the rich | Assets

A Swiss chalet in the heart of Madrid's Golden Mile. This is what those who enter Rosewood Villa Magna find these days, and it is an example of the luxury hotel's philosophy since its reopening in 2021. “We focus a lot on experiences, on creating new activities and surprises, both for the guests” as well as for “Spedes”. for the residents of Madrid,” said Friedrich von Schönburg, managing director of the hotel, at a round table as part of the HIP (Horeca Professional Expo) trade fair that took place in Madrid this week.

If there was one word that was repeated over and over again during this roundtable, it was experience. An upward trend in the luxury sector. Frequent travelers are no longer just looking for nice rooms and Egyptian cotton sheets. They want experiences, usually exclusive ones, that they will remember. And they are willing to pay a lot for it.

In fact, luxury experiences (including hospitality, tourism and events) exceeded sales of personal goods (fashion, jewelry, cosmetics and furniture) in 2022, according to the Spanish High-End Market Outlook. A report from Círculo Fortuny with analysis from McKinsey & Company. The former billed 8.6 billion euros, while the latter reached 8.4 billion euros.

Five-star hotels have quickly adapted to the trend and some even have their own department to create experiences for customers. This is the case of the Bless Hotel Madrid, as its director Nayra González said in the same forum. “We don't just create something by, for example, taking a walk in Retiro Park or taking a ceramics class. Our goal is to touch the hearts of our customers and give them unforgettable moments that last a long time. This strengthens loyalty and creates the desire to come back.” The accommodation offers more general options, for example those aimed at children, where activities are carried out with a children's animator or the room in which they stay is decorated, but also other, very individual options, such as accommodating a group of mariachis in one of the rooms. the rooms to welcome a customer who missed Mexico very much.

One of the activities for children at Bless Hotel MadridOne of the activities for children at Bless Hotel Madrid

Maximum personalization is one of the key factors that González pointed out when talking about his team's work to create situations “that stay in the minds of customers.” “When a person stays with us, they live an experience that touches their sensitivity. “The trend for the future and what we have to continue working on is the connection with its emotional part,” he assured.

An opinion that von Schönburg agrees with. “Every day in our meetings we talk about how we can go further and touch the customer emotionally.” So that they remember us when they leave. In a luxury hotel everything has to be perfect, but it's the little details that no one expects that make us go that extra step. Care is also taken to make the customer aware of the local products and culture of the place, that “everything you see and touch” represents the destination you are visiting, in this case Madrid, and that it is not the same applies to accommodation. It could be in Spain than in Japan.

In this context, Carlos Díez de la Lastra, general director of the Les Roches Hotel Management School, believes that establishments must be able to form alliances with institutions or companies in the area in order to “provide exclusive or priority offers to their experiences”. Customers” and therefore have another element to build their loyalty. “An example that I would like to highlight is that in Madrid there are hotels that have a priority connection with the Sorolla Museum and offer their guests the opportunity to visit the art gallery with the artist's granddaughter.” For all people, who want this experience: They have linked it to their hotel,” he says in a telephone conversation.

The importance of staff

According to Jordi Caralt, general manager of Hidden Away Hotels, beyond possible agreements, the hotel staff is crucial in reaching the emotional part of the customer, and the other participants agreed. “At the moment, it is the employees themselves who have to help create the effect that surprises the guest.” For example, if a customer's favorite perfume has just broken, a few hours later someone, be it a maid or someone, will do it a housekeeper, looking for a new one without telling him, and he finds it when he arrives in the room… €.

Personalized treatment is in the DNA of the Four Seasons chain, whose managers decided several decades ago “not to give each employee a script on what to do, given the trend in the industry that luxury was something standardized,” said Alejandro Bernabé, regional vice president and general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Madrid. “Our maxim is to let each employee be different. Let them bring a little of their heart, their experience and their character. Because every interaction with the customer is different because every guest has different tastes.” He recognizes that this type of action is challenging because “when you tell a person to be themselves, there is a risk.”

One of the chain's concerns is that the experiences for its customers do not remain only within the walls of a hotel or in the surrounding area. For this purpose, it has a private jet with capacity for 48 people, offering various trips of around 20 days duration, visiting several countries. Prices for the events planned next spring start at around $200,000 per person (approx. 184,000 euros). Four Seasons also plans to begin cruising in late 2025 on a luxury yacht that will winter in the Caribbean and sail to the Mediterranean in March.

“We try to create a community and stay in touch with the customer in different ways. One of these is residences, which is why many of our customers stay in a Four Seasons. Another is the private jet so that they can discover the world with us. The next step is the boats. And we also go on road trips. For example, in Italy, drive Ferrari cars from Milan to Taormina. Everything so that the guest can discover new experiences with us,” he said.

From a verse of the guest's favorite song written on a mirror, to a barbecue prepared by a chef on the private terrace of a suite, to the visitor's initials embroidered on the pillow or the hunt for Easter eggs in the hotel garden. , are some of the activities and details with which luxury hotels want to reach the heart of the customer. And earn their loyalty at the same time.

The challenge of finding talent


One of the biggest challenges for managers of luxury hotels is finding staff. For Friedrich von Schönburg, the challenge for Rosewood Villa Magna Madrid is to adapt the operation of a hotel where people work all day every day with more flexible schedules to attract talent. Alejandro Bernabé stated that employees at the Four Seasons Madrid work seven and a half hours.

The lack of specific training in the luxury sector was another problem highlighted by hotel managers. “We have enormous demand and our students have many options to choose from. What happens is that training a professional in this field is not easy because it is something relational and just giving him information is not enough. You need to change the habit of your behavior. And if you want to do it in the luxury sector, it is even more difficult,” says Carlos Díez de la Lastra, head of Les Roches, one of the centers in Spain that offers training in luxury management, hospitality and tourism, by phone.

Follow all information Five days on Facebook, X and LinkedIn, or in our newsletter Five Day Agenda

To continue reading this Cinco Días article, you will need a premium subscription to EL PAÍS