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First Luxury Hospitality concludes with industry findings

Luxury Hospitality 2013, held in Lausanne, Switzerland on 6th June 2013, saw over 170 professionals discuss the future of luxury travel as part of the world’s first exclusive think tank designed for industry leaders. The event, organised by the International Herald Tribune (IHT) with the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), featured an eclectic range of experts, all of which cater for luxury consumers.

At the inaugural dinner held at Lausanne’s iconic hotel, Beau-Rivage Palace, the first Luxury Hospitality Leader Award was presented to Mr Raymond Bickson, Managing Director and CEO at Taj Group Hotels, whose experience in hospitality spans thirty years and four continents. A member of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), an advisory member of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), and an alumnus of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Mr. Bickson was recognised for his successful role in hotel management.

The one-day summit generated thought-provoking commentary on the changing behaviour of the world’s wealthiest clientele and the growth in the younger generation of luxury travellers. Inspirational talks, such as the conversation on luxury service led by Jean Claude Biver, Chairman, Hublot, who hires luxury hospitality students to work for his retail watch firm, were followed by Q&A sessions with senior figures at luxury brands.

While analysing the new luxury consumer, Florian Wupperfeld, Managing Partner at Brand Your World, Soho House’s creative director, and founder of a new “Michelin guide to museums”, said customers increasingly value authenticity and believes luxury today is about culture, context and access to people and places. Meanwhile, Greg Marsh, Co-Founder and CEO at luxury property brand onefinestay assured there is nothing new about luxury; “it’s accessing something only the privileged can and making it convenient”.

At the summit, results of the first World Luxury Index™ Hotels, were revealed for the first time by Digital Luxury Group CEO, David Sadigh, and Samad Laaroussi, Holder of the Chair of Luxury Hospitality at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL).  The report, featuring an analysis of 70 leading luxury hotel brands within 10 luxury markets, is based on 133 million consumer online searches.

The study found that among top luxury destinations, New York remains in first position, with London, Dubai and Paris listed as the fasted growing destinations. The top three outbound markets are the US, the UK and China; however, Russia reported the largest growth in consumer interest for luxury hotels.

Topping the most searched luxury hotel brands on the internet; Four Seasons has invested $18 million to reinforce the brand’s online presence and digitally extend the brand’s online experience. While Hilton Worldwide is ranked first in the top 15 most sought-after hotel groups, Jumeirah, Fairmont and Shangri-La are the fastest growing brands within the category.

David Sadigh later explained how online data can be used to identify the next location for a hotel opening and how internet searches can provide unique insights into customer behaviour, more so than the “traditional survey”.

Brands aside, the majority of attendees agreed luxury should be rare and unattainable to most people, luxury customers seek trusted advice for the best hotel experiences, and luxury hospitality companies must embrace digital and technology to succeed in the years to come.

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