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John T.A. Vanderslice Global Head, Luxury & Lifestyle Brands, Hilton

You have more than 25 years’ experience as a professional in the tourism sector, what are the key changes you are seeing in the sector?

The industry and the needs and demands of consumers are constantly changing. Instead of relying heavily on a brand’s website or being influenced by direct marketing efforts, consumers are picking up their mobile devices and using Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for inspiration when choosing their next holiday destination.

According to Pew Global Research, 87% of Spain uses the internet at least occasionally or own a smartphone, showing how much people rely on technology and the internet. Everything is readily accessible to the consumer. And there are more options than ever when it comes to travel because of the information that they can get through one click on the internet. Social media and digital efforts are no longer optional, but essential for brands to be successful.

For example, the Hilton HHonors app is currently downloaded on average every eight seconds, an increase of 60% year-over-year this quarter – showing the importance of our technology amongst our consumers.

Travel has become more accessible, consumers are more enabled than ever to travel wherever they wish in the world due to airport expansions and new routes.

What does the millennial generation consider as luxury in Tourism?

Forbes recently noted that 78% of Millennials splurge on experiences over material goods. Millennials are travelling more and travel is a major priority when it comes to deciding what to spend their money on.

In our experience, “luxury” for a millennial is more about the richness of the experience than the price tag of the item, whether that’s a dining, travel or shopping experience.

What are the key pillars where luxe will grow in the near future? And what are the main risks the industry will face?

Luxury guests today want something different than they wanted a decade ago; and in 10 years from now these travellers will want something different than today. Today, the focus on personalized and customized experiences is the key to success in making each and every moment of your guests stay distinctive and unforgettable.

Conrad is supported by a commitment to ensuring that our guests, the next generation of smart luxury travellers, never just stay, but stay inspired. Stay Inspired marks a cultural shift in hospitality and overhauls the way a luxury brand trains its team members as storytellers of their destinations.

At each one of our 26 properties, Conrad now offers guests who seek out inspired experiences a more customised and curated collection of 1-, 3- and 5-hour experiences available through our award-winning Conrad Concierge mobile app and at StayInspired.com.

In July this year, you launched Curio as a Brand in Spain with the Grand Hotel Montesol Ibiza. What is the strategy of the brand and what is exactly the profile of clients the brand is looking for?

Gran Hotel Montesol Ibiza, Curio Collection by Hilton opened in August 2016. The hotel is housed in the first hotel on the island – established in 1933.

Curio – A Collection by Hilton is a global set of remarkable upscale and luxury hotels, hand-picked for their unique character and personality; each one a part of the city they call home. Free of a prescriptive build design, the hotels selected to join the Curio collection themselves define the brand.

Gran Hotel Montesol Ibiza, Curio Collection by Hilton Facade

In relation to LATAM, you have open new markets as Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico and others, what are the plans of the company for this region. 

Hilton currently has a portfolio of more than 90 hotels and resorts open and welcoming travelers in Latin America. Hilton has a robust development pipeline of more than 60 hotels throughout the region.

Conrad has a portfolio of 28 smart luxury hotels, with 22 developments in the pipeline. In LATAM, Conrad plans on opening Conrad San Luis Potosi in Mexico in January 2017 and Conrad Cartagena in Colombia in June 2017.

Regarding Emirates, how are you preparing your structures for the EXPO in 2020.

Hilton now exceeds 150 hotels either trading or under development in Middle East & Africa.

In the luxury sector, Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre is set to open in 2018, joining Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah and Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. Waldorf Astoria DIFC which will offer travellers timeless luxury and exceptional experiences in this bustling area of Dubai.

Waldorf Astoria Dubai – Palm Jumeirah Aerial

In addition, we have Conrad Dubai which is stylishly located on Sheikh Zayed Road, close to the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Hilton has been nominated as one of the 25 best places to work. What means this recognition for the company? What aspects are key on this recognition?

Hilton was selected based on Team Members’ assessments of the company’s jobs, opportunities for training, and support for work/life balance, among other factors.

With a workforce spanning more than 104 countries and territories, Hilton’s recognition is a result of positive feedback from Team Members across the globe. Hilton ranked in all 12 country lists that evaluated the company this year, including number one rankings in China and Turkey.

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