It has been another banner year for the luxury travel market. As more affluent indiviudals shift their spending to experiences versus goods, luxury travel providers are seeing high demand for their services all over the globe. As China sees a slowdown in spending on the Mainland, actual luxury spending abroad is now at record levels as affluent Chinese take their money abroad. This factor alone could solidify demand for luxury level services for decades to come.
Our good friend Khalil El-Mouelhy understands the upper spectrum of the hospitality and lifestyle market and updates on all things luxury:
TheTopTier: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. Can you give us an update on the state of the luxury travel market from your perspective? What are some of the defining trends we can look forward to in 2016?
Khalil El-Mouelhy: Luxury Travel is resourceful and resilient. Whilst I am sure that certain areas and aspects of this great industry will be slightly affected, I am equally sure that it will keep moving forward. The demand for luxury in the travel industry is still increasing, this is also evidenced by the numerous 5 star properties scheduled to open within 2016 as well as the ongoing projects around the world. I am not a big believer in trends as I think that that is exactly what they are..and trends always change. Many companies get into the habit of following trends and this prevents them from being innovators and creators rather than followers. It is important for all brands active in the Luxury Travel Industry to never remain stagnant or “rest on their laurels”. Brands have to continuously find ways to be innovative, exciting, engaging and of course visible. I suppose the best trend is to always evolve.
TTT: The recent gala in Bali was an outstanding success. What are some highlights and your favorite moments from the event?
KEM: The Gala ceremony at the Trans Resort Bali was a great event. We were delighted with the attendance at the event. The entire show was a great success but a few of the moments that stood for me were HRH Group of Hotels receiving the Seven Star Outstanding Achievement for the Preservation and Promotion for Heritage and Heritage Hospitality, Katara Hospitality receiving the award for Seven Star Remarkable and Exceptional achievement in Luxury Hospitality and and, of course, the launch of the International Hospitality Hall of Fame by Mr Frank M Pfaller.
TTT: The Middle East represents a very important share of the global luxury market in travel and lifestyle. Do you think any of the rhetoric and politics going on the United States during the election campaign will affect luxury brands in the region?
KEM: I do my best not involve myself and my brand in politics as it is really not my game however, some bizarre things have been said, to say the least. Brands are very delicate things. As successful as some brands are it, at times, takes very little in order to damage them, this is why PR is so important. I don’t see the outlandish and ignorant comments made by Presidential hopeful Mr. Donald Trump affecting Middle Eastern Brands, in fact I am of the opinion that other brands that have no connection with Mr. Trump, will find themselves in favorable positions. I do however see it hurting his brand in more areas of the world and not just the Middle East as we should not forget the comments he made regarding Mexico either. He has, in essence, rendered his brand Toxic in the region through his insulting comments. I cannot see any Middle Eastern national wanting to identify themselves with his brand. I am part Middle Eastern and I found the comments highly inappropriate, unnecessary and insulting. When comments lead to, and I commend them for it, known, extremely successful and respected individuals such as Prince Waleed bin Talal or Khalaf Al Habtoor to denounce “the Donald’s” statements and withdraw support it outlines the seriousness of the insult. Why anyone would want such an outcome is beyond me. It will be interesting to see how things develop.
“I am not a big believer in trends as I think that that is exactly what they are..and trends always change. It is important for all brands active in the Luxury Travel Industry to never remain stagnant or “rest on their laurels”
TTT: The SSLHLA panel has grown since we last spoke. Can you share some details on the new panelists and what they bring to the table?
KEM: We always aim to find the best possible individuals for the Luxury Panel of the Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards. We are truly delighted to have welcomed Mr Frank M Pfaller, the President/Founder of the International Hospitality Hall of fame and Hoteliers Guild, on board as Honorary Chairman of our organization and also Princess Bhargavi Kumari Mewar who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Hospitality and heritage Hospitality sector as well as lifestyle.
TTT: What’s on the horizon for SSLHLA in 2016? When can we expect an announcement and information on the 2016 Gala?
KEM: 2016 will be a very special year. Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards will take place where it all began, the inimitable Villa Padierna Palace Hotel which is undoubtedly one of the world’s most exceptional properties. In addition, the 2016 Gala Ceremony will be followed by The International Hospitality Hall of Fame which will take place the day after also at the Villa Padierna Palace Hotel. This will be a week end of unmatched hospitality with the world’s top hoteliers and personalities as well as industry leaders present.
TTT: What a fantastic way to truly honor the best luxury providers. Can you share some more information on this new alliance?
KEM: The International Hospitality Hall of Fame is unique, and therefore there was an immediate attraction between the 2 brands. Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards identifies and separates the most exceptional properties from the very best whilst The International Hospitality Hall of Fame is an independent organization tasked with researching and selecting the most exceptional individuals from within the Hospitality industry in order to, not only, reward but to acknowledge and immortalize the very individuals that make up this amazing industry on a global level. Mr Pfallers vision for The International Hospitality Hall of Fame is directly in line with the vision we have for Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards and this allows for an excellent partnership.
TTT: What is it that separates Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards from other awards in the industry?
KEM: Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards is fundamentally different from other awards.If you do some research, you will notice that other awards are in a constant state of “increase” and category generation. Some awards companies this year alone have provided 500+ awards worldwide and others, well over 1500 awards. This is a huge number. The question one should ask is, where is the exclusivity and the benefit? If everyone has the award, there really is nothing special or beneficial left about it. What is the point of having an award, and the property next door has one from the same organization? Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards ordains under 300 winners worldwide as the amount of winners we can have is capped.
The main point is that Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards is not an award that everybody has nor is it an award that everybody can have.
It is highly selective, specifically for the purpose of providing its winners with the maximum exclusivity and benefit possible. We are here to set the most exceptional in a category of their own, above the rest. This is an award for properties that wish to be placed in a league of their own.
TTT; We have to agree on your earlier comments about the resiliency of the luxury travel market as it shows no stopping in terms of demand.Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions for our readers. It will be great to be back where it all started in 2016 and we are excited for next year’s gala!
By Doron Levy Courtesy TheTopTier Digital Media