Nigel Bolding, the founder of Chic Collection is no stranger when it comes to travelling and writing. He has published 40 editions of chic travel books across 30 countries in the past ten years. Chic Collection was first launched as a series of destination-oriented, luxury coffee table books providing the best in hotel and travel inspiration. Today, Chic Collection has become a digital platform that offers not just great deals from hotels but knowledge of destinations to travellers. EcoChic, AlpineChic, SpaChic, BarefootChic, Hide&Chic, SafariChic and UrbanChic are the seven categories found on Chic Collection.
What is the inspiration behind Chic Collection? Why do you believe that this market needs more OTA websites?
Nigel Bolding:The inspiration was the publishing platform of 40 editions starting with mexicochic in 2002 and ending with cataloniachic in 2012. Having featured over 1000 hotels in these books we knew that there was a market for the independent leisure traveller seeking more information on the destination as well as the hotel. We would never be an OTA but an OTC [online travel club] where like-minded individuals will gather to share information on both hotels and travel experiences. The Chic Collection was Instagram in print really – we were the inspiration to visit Mexico or Catalonia combined with useful information on where to stay and what to do.
Apart from having 7 different categories of hotels on your website, what else makes Chic Collections’ site different from other OTAs?
NB: Our expert knowledge and travel advice ensures that any visitor to chic collection.com will benefit from our knowledge of and relationships with the many hotels we have worked with. Also we are just focusing on a certain type of hotel that is chic – and its a feeling not a formula – so we are not working with every single type of hotel as many OTAs are.
What are the criteria for hotels to join Chic Collection? And what benefits are they getting? Why do hotels want to be included on the website?
NB: There are many different reasons why hotels join Chic Collection. Some hotels are already part of larger groups like Andaz or Edition [Hyatt and Marriott] but they want both brand affiliation with Chic Collection as well as bookings. Other smaller independent hotels want a larger array of marketing support. From joining us on our stand at key travel shows, PR and social media, sales trips to key markets as well as editorial support in the form of writing stories about the property and the surrounding area and sending this content out to our subscribers. Hotels want to be seen in the company of other similar hotels and to be associated with the different themes of experiential travel…but the ultimate goal is to receive more online and offline bookings.
What do you think the challenges are for OTA websites nowadays?
NB: Technology technology technology. We all compete with or rely on booking.com who have the best technology platform as well as the biggest collection of hotels not to mention marketing budget. So we can’t compete on these levels but we can compete by hand picking hotels and telling stories about them and the destinations. In effect it is curating a collection and in doing so becoming an OTC not an OTA. The large OTAs have too many hotels and too much information – they are catering to all not the few. Our goal is to make it personal.
You have had years of experience in traveling. Where is your favorite destination and why?
NB: I travel a lot and invariably this is to the world’s major cities so to completely get away there are always 2 things I love to do – ski and safari. We have some alpinechic hotel members in Lech Austria so I do try and get there once a year – of course just to check on our partner hotels such as Hotel Goldenerberg. And the next best thing is to head to Singita Boulders in the Kruger Park, South Africa. Not only will you get to see the best wildlife possible but you will be wined and dined in style.
A curated collection of 125 hotels (and growing) in 40 destinations which can all now be booked directly through the Chic Collection website – www.chiccollection.com.