QUO announces European headquarters in London


Today, QUO celebrates the launch of operations in Europe.

We are delighted to announce the appointment of David Anderson as CEO Europe and partner in the Group. With new regional headquarters in central London, David will lead the expansion of the respected strategic branding and creative agency into this dynamic market.

As well as leading QUO’s European operation, David’s team will also coordinate the agency’s global sales and marketing functions as well as provide targeted support for QUO’s expanding network of clients in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East region.

David brings over 25 years of client-side branding, commercial, and marketing expertise. A proven track record in both public and major private corporations, he has served on several global executive committees and boards and ran a successful independent consultancy. With an honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he started his career at British Airways before holding leadership positions with IHG Hotels & Resorts, Hilton International, Virgin Australia, Fitness First Group and ODEON Cinemas Group where he was Chief Commercial Officer for Europe.

David Keen, Group CEO & Founder of QUO, said: “The opening of a European headquarters for QUO is a watershed moment. We’ve grown from humble beginnings in Bangkok to become a leading global branding agency. David is the partner I have always looked for to take to the next level our vision to drive innovation and substantive change through the realisation of brands with culture at their core in every industry we touch.”

QUO’s CEO Europe David Anderson said: “I’m thrilled to be joining QUO at this exciting moment in their growth. I’ve known David since my time in Singapore and have always admired his values, and the mix of science and intuition that QUO brings to their work. I can’t think of a better partner to work with. For years, as a client, my teams have had to bring to life brand strategies and concepts off the page, take them to market and support operations in their delivery. I’m looking forward to bringing that real-life empathy and pragmatism to QUO’s work with their clients.”

QUO Welcomes New Director of Healthcare + Wellness

Healthcare industry veteran Ruben Toral joins QUO as Director of Healthcare + Wellness to leverage synergies between healthcare, hospitality and tourism.

QUO is excited to announce that we will be expanding into the healthcare and wellness sector and has appointed industry veteran Ruben Toral as our new Director of Healthcare + Wellness.

Ruben is a highly respected executive with over 25 years of experience developing healthcare businesses, brands and physician networks in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. He is best known for his seminal work as Marketing Director of Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok, from 2001–2007, which he transformed into an icon of medical tourism—an industry now valued at approximately USD 115.6 billion¹ worldwide.

While at Bumrungrad, Ruben reached out to QUO to rebrand and reposition the hospital as an international medical centre offering patients ‘A World of Care’. He later co-founded two companies: Medeguide, a portal to find and connect with doctors, and Intermedika Consulting, an advisory firm specialising in business and marketing strategy for hospitals, healthcare investors and medical tourism promotion boards.

In his new role, Ruben will lead a new health-focused vertical for QUO, offering branding solutions for hospitality companies and hospitals seeking to enhance competitiveness in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Asia Pacific is already the largest global market for medical tourism and is expected to spur the industry’s growth, which is set to expand at an annual rate of 11.6%, reaching USD 346.1 billion by 2032.

QUO CEO David Keen says the convergence of healthcare, hospitality and tourism is a defining industry trend. QUO will now be able to pair its own experience of branding hotels and destinations with Ruben’s expertise in the healthcare sector. “Health and wellness are future-forward, growth categories, and QUO wants to spearhead this sector by becoming the branding agency of choice at the intersection of health, hospitality and tourism,” says David.

Ruben sees branding as a value creator for healthcare providers and investors. “Consumers naturally gravitate to brands. They trust them, and no industry is more trust-driven than healthcare. Anything we can do to build trust and create value,” he explained.


¹ https://www.precedenceresearch.com/medical-tourism-market 

QUO Publishes ‘Hybrid Spaces’ White Paper

“The role of a place—any place—has changed. Because we’ve changed.”

QUO has published a special report on the emergence of hybrid spaces and their effect on the hospitality industry.

Entitled “It Came from Hybrid Space!”, the 20-page white paper points to consumers’ increasingly hybrid lifestyles, which are conducted virtually as often as in real life. Spaces, whether physical or virtual, must adjust to this new hybrid landscape.

“What if this is not a blip?” the authors ask. They proceed to suggest that thinking in terms of a ‘new normal’ may be unproductive, as it fails to account for the dynamic nature of changes currently underway. Instead, readers are encouraged to keep an open mind even after the dust settles in a post-pandemic world.

The paper identifies three drivers of the evolution of space: culture, connection and community. Each of these is illuminated by relevant, real-world examples and analysis. Rather than making predictions about what travel will look like in 2022, it focuses on how brands can adapt, re-emerge and position themselves to benefit from the hybridisation of space.

“Hybrid spaces are a catalyst of irreversible transformation,” claims QUO found and CEO David Keen. “Whether in hospitality, retail or office space, the younger generations are demanding diversity and a choice of where and how they work, travel and gather.”

QUO’s white paper was produced in partnership with Hospitality Net, a top-ranked B2B portal for hospitality leaders and experts; and with Bench, a global provider of immersive virtual events. This triad of expertise brings vital insight to a critical challenge unfolding in real time across the industry.

The publication of the paper marks the beginning of a new content series by QUO. It is accompanied by a limited podcast series, called Hybrid Lives, in which CEO David Keen interviews key hybrid space-makers and industry stakeholders from around the world. QUO Chief Branding Officer Catherine Monthienvichienchai will also pen a thought piece for Hospitality Net in the coming weeks.

The white paper can be downloaded for free from the QUO website. Downloaders may also opt to be notified when podcast episodes and new content in the series are released.

Free download: www.quo-global.com/hybrid-spaces

Enquiries: info@quo-global.com

HICAP 2019 Recap

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 brand—really just a label, a sign, and red pillows in disparate properties with varying offerings—stands 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 Markets—Second 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 thing—that 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.

QUO Advocacy: The State of the World’s Children

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?

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 best—defining culture—and 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.

CEO David Keen Talks ‘Brand Sri Lanka’

QUO has been involved in the branding of quite a few ‘household names’ in Sri Lankan hospitality, including Jetwing, Sun Aqua and Galle Face Hotel and CEO David Keen frequently visits the country for business.

On his latest trip, the Daily Financial Times Sri Lanka caught up with him for insights on destination marketing in Sri Lanka, the challenges faced by local operators and areas that need improvement.

Read the full article and David’s recommendations for ‘Brand Sri Lanka’ here.

QUO CEO to Hospitality Leaders: “Overthrow your org chart”

In the third article of a four-part series on innovation for Hotels Magazine, CEO David Keen expands upon what GMs need to do to be industry pioneers.

Even if we take the hotel out of hospitality, it remains a people-centred industry. Enlightened leaders share the vision that people drive this business. Even so, there’s a massive difference between being greeted by a baseball-capped, denim-shirted egalitarian millennial and being ushered in by an attendant wearing a three-piece suit and lapel pin.

Read the full article at HOTELS Magazine.

The Democratisation of Luxury

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: