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PREFERRED – 1

There were some might strong names on-stage during last week’s Preferred Hotel Group Global Conference, held in Lisbon 8-9 May.  See above. Left to right in the image above are Peter Bates, Chairman of New York-based Strategic Vision: Lindsey Ueberroth, Newport Beach-based CEO of Preferred Hotel Group, and Bob Chavez, Chairman Americas, Hermès.

Preferred Hotel Group is the best known secret, declared Lindsey Ueberroth. She is concentrating more than ever on quality, and expect her to add value incentives to highest-spend members of the five million-strong loyalty programme iPrefer (which she wants to double in number). In addition, innovation will, as always, continue to be a key factor. Ever since John Ueberroth and his family bought the company 20 years ago innovation, led by John’s wife Gail, has been paramount.  Life en famille is one continuous creative think tank. Preferred will continue to be family-owned: there are now 600 property members, divided geographically three-ways into North America, Europe, and the rest of the world.

Peter Bates  was a skilful chair, showing masterly style in chatting with Lindsey Ueberroth and the charmingly personable Chavez. Hermès is another family-owned business and, he said, it does not pay attention to anyone else, it focusses on what it does best, namely retail. Get the best materials and the best craftsmen (25% of trainees are not subsequently hired) and build for the next 25 years. Hermès shop directors, equivalent of hotel GMs, must know their customers. Train teams not to ask permission but ask for vision. Rather than traditional marketing the company hosts Instagrammable events: it flew 50 loyalists to Kevin Coestner’s ranch  at Independence Pass, Aspen CO, for a couple of days. And can you imagine Hermès doing a Las Vegas laundromat popup, inviting fashionistas who might want their old Hermès scarves to be dip-dyed? One woman drove from Virginia with 24 scarves.

A session from Lefty and Cindy Novotny, the vivacious pair behind Master Connection Associates (Bold Presence – Sharp Experience!) was similarly deemed to be exremely relevant, as was Cindy’s final wrap-up after two mornings of sessions. Create unbelievable experiences for every guest, every time. Mercedes Benz had an edge on car sales by devising experiences for kids, who then influenced their parents’ purchases • Honestly, said one of the 350-or-so delegates, he had never experienced a better programme and every session was absolutely spot-on. AI was explained, by Google, no less. There was culture, and sustainability, and one afternoon offered the opportunity for physical activity or sightseeing.