Thailand Tourism Forum 2020

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Thailand Tourism Forum 2020

Last Updated
27 March 2020
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Hospitality experts confronted pressing trends head-on at the Thailand Tourism Forum 2020.

QUO wowed a sold-out crowd at the Ninth Annual Thailand Tourism Forum (TTF) 2020—‘The Big Bang—Epic Ideas, Scorekeeping and Straight Talk’, a free-of-charge event organised by C9 Hotelworks Hospitality Consulting Group and The American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (AMCHAM).

Over 1,000 travel professionals gathered at The InterContinental Bangkok and were treated to Instagram branding insight by QUO CEO David Keen and Deputy Content Director Laurel Tuohy.

Thailand Tourism Forum 2020

Our presentation, ‘Eye Candy in Instagrammable Thailand’, offered thoughts on how hospitality brands in Thailand can best leverage the photo and video sharing platform, highlighting domestic brands that get it right, alongside some thoughts on what not to do.

Throughout the afternoon, attendees were amused, enthralled, educated and invigorated by talks on big data, female-centric travel, the future of luxury tourism and more.

One memorable moment came from hotel designer extraordinaire Bill Bensley, who addressed the timely topic of ‘Sensible, Sustainable Solutions’. Using large-scale paintings, he theorised on the best- and worst-case scenarios for tourism in 2050, mentioning underwater cities that could only be toured via glass-bottomed ark and the cures for human ills unearthed in the rainforest.

We laughed, we learned, we networked. Cheers to another busy, successful year of tourism in Thailand!

To view our full presentation, click here

HICAP 2019 Recap

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HICAP 2019 Recap

Last Updated
10 April 2020
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From OYO and the fast growth of the economy brand, to Bensley and the death of  ‘greenwashing’

All eyes are on Hong Kong as we round the third day of the annual Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) at Kerry Hotel Hong Kong. Organised by The BHN Group, the event brings together the world’s leading decision-makers, advisors and investors for the travel and tourism industries.

Among them is QUO CEO David Keen, who moderated a panel yesterday entitled, ‘Economy Hotels – Lower-End Means High-End Returns’. The panel featured Horwath HTL Director Eunice Aw, Kerzner International Executive Vice President of Global Business and Real Estate Development Paul Macpherson, and Artyzen Hospitality Group President Robbert N. van der Maas.

This spirited discussion allowed the industry insiders to weigh in on lower-cost, higher-yield hotels and the finer points for owners of these investments. 

While David has overseen branding of properties at all price points for over 20 years, Eunice was able to bring her specialised knowledge of Asian hotel financial feasibility to the conversation. On the hospitality executive management forefront, Paul is well-versed on the business in Dubai and the Middle East and Robbert, an operations executive for Hyatt and MGM before co-founding his own company, has expertise on the industry in China, Bali, Hawaii and the Maldives.

Looming large in their discussion was the impact of economy hotel chains like OYO and how the space between this most simplistic version of a hospitality brandreally just a label, a sign, and red pillows in disparate properties with varying offeringsstands up against the more defined economy brands like IBIS or Yotel.

The panel ventured to ask if there could be another level of service and branding in between and how much developing that space would rely on design and service.

They delved next into functionality versus meaningful lifestyle brands. Paul made some salient points about how both are able to multiply very quickly using differing strategies. Robbert noted a market gap in the space between economy and midscale brands and the opportunity in terms of development in this segment.

The excitement continued this morning at a panel entitled ‘Development Track: Beyond Gateway MarketsSecond Can Be First’. Moderated by Cyndy Tan Jarabata, President of Jabara Hospitality, the discussion gave way to a lively chat led by inimitable hotel designer Bill Bensley. 

David jumped into the discussion to touch on the greater purpose of the hospitality industry and the men agreed on one thingthat all projects should serve a greater purpose, whether sustainability, doing good or being good on a level far deeper than the current persistent industry tend of ‘greenwashing’, or making brands sound more environmentally friendly than they truly are. Food waste and solar power were just two of the topics volleyed in this segment before the conversation came to a close. 

Overall, the event presented fresh ideas about great design, budget options, sustainability and the betterment of communities.  

David left Hong Kong inspired and excited about the industry. Don’t hesitate to contact us or email David directly if you’d like to hear more. And keep an eye on this space for further information on the soul of QUO and how it’s evolving

 



Jaz Amsterdam Named Top Hotel In Netherlands

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Jaz Amsterdam Named Top Hotel In Netherlands

Last Updated
21 October 2019
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Jaz Amsterdam hits the highest note with well-deserved recognition from the Dutch Hotel Award 2019

A big congratulations to Jaz Amsterdam for winning the Dutch Hotel Award 2019, which they were formally presented with yesterday. This is a well-earned honour, and we hope they’re celebrating with that fresh and funky style the brand is famous for. (We’re sure they are!)

Jaz’s upbeat energy is so contagious, even the selection committee got into the groove. Their jury report sings for itself! Scroll down to see what they had to say.  

“Jaz in the City Amsterdam is jammin’ n jivin’ from A to Z! The management team exudes pride and a lot of fun. They are also committed and loyal to both the hotel and to each other. The General Manager, a.k.a. the Band Leader, Marjolein Bruschke, takes a step back to let her team shine, which is awesome! The presentation the team gave was original and definitely musical. There was live music in the elevator, and even a guitarist in a tuk-tuk! You can really see the future in this hotel in both the people and the concept. There was lots of tech. Even though they are part of a traditional hotel chain they know how to bend the rules to fit in the trendy brand.”

At QUO, we’re proud to have played a part in bringing Deutsche Hospitality’s hip new brand to centre stage, and we’re delighted to see them in the spotlight. Their one-of-a-kind tune befits the highest hospitality honour in the Netherlands – an award recognising a hotel that stands out from the crowd.

Need some Jaz in your life? Check them out here.

PHIST 2019: Protecting Phuket and the Planet

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PHIST 2019: Protecting Phuket and the Planet

Last Updated
10 April 2020
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Phuket has been drowning in discarded single-use plastics for years, but the tides may be turning. 

Yesterday, the second-annual Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism Forum (PHIST) convened at Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa. The event was attended by hoteliers representing the islands top hotel chains—coming together to discuss strategies that more promote more sustainable island tourism.

Topics covered certainly included the usual suspects—replacing plastic straws with paper and using glass water bottles on their properties among them. There was also a great deal of spirited discussion.

During a panel on plastic waste entitled ‘Let’s Talk Trash’, QUO CEO David Keen was joined by his daughter Ani Keen, a featured NextGen speaker, along with Guy Heywood, COO of Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas.

In their discussion, Guy noted the trickle-up effect of the sustainability efforts of smaller resort chains, mentioning the game-changing news that IHG plans to eliminate single-use plastic amenity bottles from all of their hotel rooms. Once rolled out, he noted that as many as 300 million bottles will be saved from landfills by this one decision.

David is doubly focused on this issue because of its connection to local culture. In his mind, culture is so strongly tied to the environment that it’s impossible to look at climate change issues without seeing their impact on local heritage. Protecting the environment is paramount to preserving culture, the basis of tourism in many destinations.

PHIST (Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism) forum is one of Asia’s largest sustainability conferences with over 1,000 people attending the daylong event at Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa. Organised by Phuket Hotels Association (PHA), the event also covered green design, marketing sustainability and more, providing a chance for members of Gen Z – like Ani – to address today’s hospitality leaders and discuss issues with long-lasting impact. This year’s forum stepped up to start important conversations in the hospitality and tourism field – and left industry leaders with a lot to think about.

As the event’s promo video said, “Phuket’s brand is the beach. We need to take care of it.”

Interested in what else Phuket’s hotels are doing to go green? The PHA collected reports from 74 member hotels on their green initiatives to create the Great Big Green Hotel Guide. Full of environmental best practices and case studies, the GBGHG showcases the way to sustainability. The guide was put together with the help of QUO and launched at yesterday’s forum. 

Catch a glimpse of the Great Big Green Hotel Guide to see how Southeast Asia’s eco-conscious hotels are tackling hospitality’s biggest environmental issues.

 

QUO Advocacy: The State of the World’s Children

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QUO Advocacy: The State of the World’s Children

Last Updated
10 April 2020
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It has been 20 years since UNICEF’s flagship annual publication focused on nutrition

With limited time and a need for maximum flexibility, QUO worked with UNICEF Communications, New York, to prepare a PowerPoint presentation to accompany the launch of their State of the World’s Children 2019 in London, yesterday. UNICEF provided us with an abundance of compelling images, and the result is a stark reminder of our need to care for the least fortunate—and most innocent—among us.

This year’s report, Children, food and nutrition: Growing well in a changing world, is a strong reminder that this issue is still one of critical importance. “One in three children is not growing well – either stunted/wasted or overweight. At least one in two children suffer from ‘hidden hunger’ or micronutrient deficiencies. They may look well nourished but in fact are not getting sufficient nutrients and vitamins to grow and develop to their full potential.”

Given the scale of impact on children by this triple threat of stunting/wasting, overweight and hidden hunger, the report calls for ACTION; a fact highlighted in the presentation by reserving one of only 20 slides for this word to stand alone.

As the UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore spoke accompanied by the presentation, ending on a positive note and citing a number of successful UNICEF programmes in countries throughout the world that are already working to overcome nutritional challenges.

 

Notice Anything Different About Us?

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Notice Anything Different About Us?

Last Updated
22 October 2019
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Anything at all? We’ve been hard at work re-branding ourselves. Can you imagine anything more meta? 

Change the world, start with yourself.

We took this idea to heart when we embarked on the rebranding of QUO this year. The truth is, every shiny brand in our portfolio means nothing if our own branding isn’t strong, singular, recognisable and impressive. 

It wasn’t easy. The project required a large group of creatives learning to see themselves in an entirely new light—and to see themselves, collectively, in the same new light.

At the project’s heart, it required a long, hard look at who QUO is and what we stand for. 

It All Started with ‘QUO DAY’

Our re-branding journey began on QUO Day, a date when agency staffers abandoned their desks and formed small teams, each set on quickly brainstorming, creating and presenting a new identity that represented QUO best.  

What came to light in the process were ideas of duality, of East meets West, classic meets contemporary, witty meets humble. These concepts represented the work we do as well as the team behind it.

After cherry-picking the best ideas from each presentation, the project began to take a more defined form. 

Branding a Branding Agency

QUO’s Chief Branding Officer, Catherine Monthienvichienchai, explained, “Following the same process we take with client projects, we pulled some key team members together for an internal workshop and brainstormed QUO’s Vision and Why (our reason for being). We considered:

What is our ultimate dream for QUO?
Why do we exist?
What’s our underlying purpose?

 

“We quickly narrowed our focus on what we do bestdefining cultureand the lengths to which we, as an agency, go to probe beneath the surface and understand each brand’s core. This is where distinction and differentiation is born. Our Why then become obvious.”

We believe that every organisation has a soul worth uncovering.

From this Why, the strategy was formed. QUO’s updated brand culture focused on a combination of passionate creativity and strategic intellect, alongside bold opinion tempered with absolute humility. 

Visualising the Soul of QUO

From there, a visual identity emerged built on perspective. The letterform of our name was enlarged with wondrous, saturated images visible inside, offering observers a window into the soul of our brand.

Our own culture, defined through duality and perspective

 

We evolved our previous dual font logo to better represent the idea of old meets new by crafting half of it in classical Serif font and the other half in modern Sans Serif font. 

QUO Content Director Derek Kirk explained that this strategic new thinking required an updated Tone of Voice for our brand as well. “We felt this striking visual treatment demanded a more measured approach to copy,” he said. “We took a less-is-more stance—paring down headers, embracing white space and cutting the fluff. Our goal was to create a decidedly human voice that’s unpretentious but just witty enough to keep readers smiling.” 

Our new identity feels right. It reflects who we are, what we do and what we want to do. It represents us, but also inspires us, beckoning us to continue discovering and defining our own soul, so we can better understand the souls of our clients.

QUO Partners with Steigenberger in Brand Re-Launch

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QUO Partners with Steigenberger in Brand Re-Launch

Last Updated
21 October 2019
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QUO has partnered with Deutsche Hospitality to evolve its flagship hotel brand, Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts.

The agency designed a new corporate identity to modernise the classic German luxury hotel brand and demonstrate a more compelling brand positioning as it moves into new segments and territories, with plans to invest €120 million in 2019 in its existing portfolio.

ITB Berlin attendees ­­were this week treated to the unveiling of a reimagined logo that maintains elements of the classic brand image invigorated with new typefaces and soft, complementary pastels. These will combine with newly designed photography guidelines for advertising and collateral. A set of new guest experiences has also been created.

“Our challenge was to find the perfect mix of tradition and modernity – to hold onto our heritage while meeting the needs of contemporary travellers and guests,” said Deutsche Hospitality CEO Thomas Willms. “We feel that we’ve achieved our goal with this new brand identity, encapsulating the quality and service we are famous for in an innovative, future-facing brand.”

QUO CEO David Keen said it is rare to find a classic hotel brand that is so willing reinvent itself.

“I’m delighted to see a deeply traditional German hotel company like Steigenberger embracing guest experience and making that a core part of its brand,” he said.

QUO’s Creative Director Pierre Vermeir said the new logo is evolutionary.

“While I wanted to position Steigenberger as fully modern, I also knew it was important not to alienate the brand heritage,” he said. “The main typeface was carefully considered to strike a balance between classical and modern. In the location descriptors below, the sans serif typeface creates a sense of modernity. The combination of dark brown and grey in the logo is timeless.”

The unveiling took place at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair. Steigenberger launched in 1930 in Germany and is now found in 10 countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The brand continues expanding into new markets, with a recently opened hotel in Dubai and several others slated to open by 2021 in Denmark, Egypt, Qatar and Thailand.

For comment on QUO’s role in the evolution of Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts’ brand, contact David Keen at david.keen@quo-global.com.

Phu Quoc: Vietnam’s Newest Travel Destination Takes Off

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Phu Quoc: Vietnam’s Newest Travel Destination Takes Off

Last Updated
22 October 2019
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Lying 62 miles off Vietnam’s southern coast and known for pristine beaches and verdant forests is the island of Phu Quoc.

Now seeing a major increase in attention from both tourists and hospitality investors alike, this increasingly attractive destination, however, still faces obstacles as it looks to develop.

See and download our full report here:

Phu Quoc Sees Rapid Tourism Growth

Talked about as an up-and-coming tourist destination for the past decade, very little development had actually materialised until the last couple of years. After significant government investment in local infrastructure, including a new airport, and a strong promotion campaign, tourist numbers have since exploded, and with them, serious private investment in resort facilities has followed.

“Over the past 24 months, a safari, theme park, hospital and golf course opened and an international standard casino is under planning”, explains Peter Ryder, CEO of Indochina Capital, a leading Vietnam-based real estate developer and advisor. He adds that, “During the early stages of a resort destination’s development, infrastructure growth is critical and the Phu Quoc authorities are demonstrating an ability to progress rapidly.” He explains that these early achievements from the government have instilled confidence in developers and international hotel brands — such as JW Marriot, InterContinental, AccorHotels, Sheraton and Ritz Carlton — to move forward with new projects.

While attracting only 25,000 visitors back in the year 2000, the number of tourists coming to Phu Quoc jumped to over 1.5 million in 2015, with local Vietnamese visitors doubling between 2014 and 2015 to reach 1.35 million. 2016 is expected to be another impressive year for Phu Quoc as Kien Giang Province, where Phu Quoc is located, is the major focus of the Vietnamese government’s Visit Vietnam Year 2016 tourism promotion campaign. By 2020, the government hopes on attracting three million visitors per year.

Attracting Foreign Interest

Despite this, foreign tourists currently constitute only a relatively small percentage of overall tourist numbers, with just 164,000 foreign tourists visiting Phu Quoc last year out of a total of 1.5 million. Tourists from Russia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are those currently showing the most interest in travelling to Phu Quoc — although the destination is increasingly welcoming tourists from Europe.

Ryder informs us that the government plans to increase the percentage of international travelers to 40% of total arrivals by 2020, explaining that, “Along with the rapid infrastructure development and expected completion of 5-star resorts, I expect the biggest change will be the increase of foreign travelers, specifically from within Asia as access improves regionally”.

Flights from foreign countries directly to Phu Quoc Airport have been on the increase lately. Swedish airline TUI Nordic says it expects to run weekly flights to Phu Quoc by the end of 2016 and China Southern Airlines started direct flights to Phu Quoc from Guangzhou in January this year. Direct flights by Vietnam Airlines are run from both Singapore and Cambodia.

Recent visa liberalisation for many nationalities has further encouraged arrivals to Vietnam by foreign tourists. In addition to this, as Phu Quoc is considered a special economic zone, the government has allowed visa-free travel to Phu Quoc for up to 30 days for all nationalities.  

Image credit: PhuQuocIslandGuide.com

Economic Growth Boosting Vietnamese Travel

The rise in the number of domestic Vietnamese tourists heading to Phu Quoc can be seen in the context of strong and continued economic growth that has been lifting many Vietnamese into the middle classes and providing them with a greater disposable income to spend on leisure activities such as travel. This aspirational middle class are seeing travel as an important part of their new lifestyle.

While domestic travel is increasing in Vietnam, it is international travel by Vietnamese nationals to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia — as well as further afield to destinations such as Japan, South Korea, the US and Europe — that is growing at a much more rapid rate. As incomes in Vietnam grow, the first industry to benefit is the local tourism sector, followed along by those in neighbouring countries and then, finally, those further afield. Six million Vietnamese traveled abroad last year, spending roughly US$6 billion. That’s almost double the US$3.5 billion that was spent abroad back in 2012.

Challenges to the Travel Industry

The domestic Vietnamese tourist industry, on the other hand, faces several challenges, including the need to improve service quality, create greater variety in travel activities and ensure improved value for money. Places like Japan and South Korea, meanwhile, have drastically relaxed their visa procedures for Vietnamese nationals, and tours to Japan that used to cost around VND40 million back in 2013, now cost between VND20 million (US$891) and VND30 million (US$1,347). Nearly 120,000 Vietnamese tourists visited Japan in 2014, an almost 50% year-on-year increase.

Phu Quoc also faces its own specific challenges. Labour is foremost amongst them. The recent rapid growth means that the local labour supply with adequate skills and experience in travel and tourism is incredibly limited, and hotel and travel operators need to pay a premium to attract skilled personnel to move to Phu Quoc to fill positions. In addition, finding local accommodation for hotel workers is becoming a struggle.

While infrastructure on Phu Quoc has greatly improved of late, especially with the new airport and roads, further development is still needed in terms of electricity as well as sewage and water treatment. Yet, Ryder remains confident, “Currently, the infrastructure and logistics are insufficient; however, within the next two to three years, with the key infrastructure initiatives either under construction or being planned, the island will be well suited to provide a high level of service to guests.” He adds that, “In terms of areas for improvement, the airport needs to be expanded to handle more international flights” however, “The government recognises this need and has plans to commence construction of a new terminal in 2016.”

Managing Future Growth in Phu Quoc

A final major challenge for Phu Quoc as a destination is one that has been faced by a number of other tourist destinations in the past — how will it manage its image as it grows and changes?

Earlier tourists came to Phu Quoc mainly due to it being perceived as a new and “off the beaten track” destination — attracted by its natural beauty and lack of development. As Phu Quoc grows, however, these existing tourists could be put off by the continuing development and may venture on to newer, untouched destinations.

Contrasting this, Nguyễn Vĩnh Trân, CEO of MIK Group, a leading Vietnamese real estate advisory with a number of hotel projects in Phu Quoc, including the soon-to-open Movenpick and Crowne Plaza resorts, explains that, “The Vietnamese government has, in fact, been rather proactive in terms of ensuring the preservation of the forest on Phu Quoc, as well as restraining over-development and being strict on wastewater treatment”. He adds that many developers have also learned from their experiences in other locations and are now much more aware of the importance of preserving the natural beauty of the island.

With Phu Quoc currently transitioning into a more mass-market destination, it is important the authorities and private sector take the time right now, before development continues too far, to carefully consider what image Phu Quoc wishes to present to the world and how it can differentiate itself from other mass-market destinations.

Investments in infrastructure are not the only investments that are needed. The local and national tourism authorities, along with the major resort developers and operators, should carefully consider Phu Quoc’s assets and unique selling points, determine which types of tourists are likely to be most interested in visiting Phu Quoc and understand what they are looking for in resort destinations. Having a clear understanding of this will ensure that the development strategy for Phu Quoc continues along a path that will lead to the greatest success.

QUO wishes to express its thanks to Olivier Do Ngoc, Managing Partner, Dynasty Investments, Peter R. Ryder, CEO, Indochina Capital Corporation, Nguyễn Vĩnh Trân, CEO of MIK Group and Marriott International for invaluable support and insights on the development of Phu Quoc.

Video: The Democratisation of Luxury

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Video: The Democratisation of Luxury

Last Updated
10 April 2020
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Can you put a price on luxury? Is luxury relative? And is the notion of what constitutes luxury currently being transformed?

These questions formed part of a thought-provoking panel discussion at the Hotel Investment Conference South Asia (HICSA) 2018, which took place at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai on 4 – 5 April.

QUO CEO David Keen moderated the discussion on the ‘Democratisation of Luxury’ with panelists Dr Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director of Bird Group; Rajiv Kaul, President of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts; Shafi Syed, Senior Vice President of Development at Caesars Entertainment; and Sonica Malhotra, Joint Managing Director of MBD Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts.

The panellists had different ideas about what luxury is and whether luxury has a dollar value, specifically in the context of a rapidly growing Indian hospitality market, but also internationally.

See what they had to say by watching the full panel discussion from HICSA below:

SEAHIS 2018: Vietnam’s “Crazy” Growth

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SEAHIS 2018: Vietnam’s “Crazy” Growth

Last Updated
10 April 2020
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It was a no-holds-barred session on Southeast Asia’s most exciting market on Tuesday at the Southeast Asia Hotel Investors’ Summit 2018 (SEAHIS 2018).

Attendees at the Westin Grand Sukhumvit heard CEO David Keen lead a panel on Vietnam’s booming hotel industry, with panelists Michael Piro of Indochina Capital, Gonzalo Macedo of Melia Hotels and Kenneth Atkinson of Grant Thornton (Vietnam) sharing thoughts candidly.

Concerns were raised over what the panelists considered to be unplanned growth, with a shared fear that lack of control over development could see pristine environments like Phu Quoc become “washed up in development, excitement and greed.”

For more insights, see TTG Asia’s write up of the event.

David also took part in a discussion on building a new brand from scratch. Speaking with Mark Edleson of Alila Hotels and Resorts, James Mabey of The Standard and Michael Piro, the panel enjoyed a lively back-and-forth on the pros and cons of creating your own brand. All agreed that today, the best brands have moved away from the cookie-cutter approach, and focus on creating authentic, meaningful experiences.

There was also consensus on the failure of big brands to adapt to local destinations and cultures. Local owners are driven to create their own brands, or be forced to conform to international standards and procedures in a destination where they just don’t make sense.

The conversation ended on the topic of bringing highly distinctive brands to new markets and the challenges implicit in importing, say, Standard Hotels to Asia. So much of Standard Hotels is about the vibe, culture and community – intangibles that are impossible to simply pick up and drop down in a completely different cultural landscape.

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