SPOTLIGHT ON Jean-Pierre Lacroix, President, SLD

Jean-Pierre is a visionary design thinker who is dedicated to working with retail brands on interpreting the latest trends for their business and creating strategies that have measurable results. He will be discussing the future at the ILHA’s event in Miami and shares some detail on his talk as well as mistakes brands make when defining their future.

At the International Luxury Hotel Association’s INSPIRE’19 Summit in December you will be talking about how luxury hotels can prepare for the future so that they remain relevant in a changing landscape. Can you give us a preview of what you will be discussing?
Seeing the Future Just Around the Corner. Most industries have been disrupted not because they are poor operators but more importantly fail to see the disruptive changes on the horizon. A growing number of retailers and service brands are exploring future proofing strategies to ensure they remain relevant. What are the trends and factors that will have the greatest impact on the future of the luxury hotel industry and how to ensure you have a plan in place are the questions this presentation will cover, namely: defining strategic foresight and its level of importance, identifying the key STEEP (social, technological, economic, environmental & political) trends and factors influencing the future of the industry and the processes and strategies to consider.

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when trying to define their future?
The biggest challenge is brands do not have a long view as part of their strategic plan. Often, they are so focused on their quarterly targets and yearly goals overlooking potential trends, ideas, events in the farther horizon that will disrupt their business or more importantly will become missed opportunities capitalized by longer viewing competitors. The luxury hotel industry is not immune to disruptive changes with online start-ups such as Airbnb changing the definition of travel while the subscription economy is also transforming how consumers define experiences.

The second mistake or missed opportunity is to understand the luxury hotel industry is part of a bigger trend towards the experience economy where storytelling and selfie moments play a pivotal role in how consumers define value. The hotel industry should understand they are part of a discovery ecosystem where guests are looking for unique and memorable experiences well beyond the confines of their premises. Luxury hotels play a critical role in being the hub for these experiences.

How do they stay in touch with who their guest is and how they can reach them?
Mass personalization has now become the norm in how consumers want to be engaged by brands. As such, the industry must understand the emotional and unmet needs of their customer base supporting well-defined consumer personas. Defining the various key personas of a given establishment will help define, engage and retain customers by providing them with curated services delivered through well trained front-line staff. The use of personas started as a platform to identify the different types of consumers visiting websites and has evolved to reflect these customers as part of the entire journey from how they select a hotel to how they create desire and repeat visits.

Most customers first make a decision through an online search, exploring the amenities of given hotels in addition to proximity to key areas they wish to discover. It includes third party reviews, great story telling content in addition to easy to navigate websites and apps. With Instagram and YouTube now becoming dominant search platforms, it is also important to romance and create desire through the use of great photography and videos.

What trends have impacted the luxury hotel industry the most in the last few years and what do you see in 2020?
The sharing economy most commercialized by Airbnb is just the tipping point of how consumers will embrace travel in the future. This trend will blur the lines between what defines luxury and more importantly the definition of accommodations. Time sharing organizations are also redefining their offerings to offer luxury style experiences to their members, providing new and emerging competitors to the industry.

The move to eco-friendly travel, and with millennials putting greater value on experiences than tangible goods, we will see a move towards more sustainable travel and luxury hotels have a key role to play. Also, by 2030 aviation will move from gas to hybrid electric and gas turbines, reducing aviation’s carbon footprint in addition to the reintroduction of supersonic jets at the other end of the spectrum.

Space travel will also help redefine luxury hoteling where patrons will pay significant investments in order to enjoy a view of the world from space. This supports the fact that the destination will become a stronger definition of the attributes that define luxury hotels.

Do you have a recent project where you were able to implement some of these trends?
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