Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH**) **announced a 12 Million Pound investment over the next five years. Filip Boyen, the CEO of SLH speaks to us in details on how the company plans to spend that investment

The £12 million investment will enable the brand to execute initiatives laid out in our five-year plan announced during our 25th anniversary last year. Our five key areas of focus are as follows:                                           

*Quality – *We have recently revamped our inspection program to ensure higher, consistent standards across all SLH hotels. With a more robust quality assurance programme, SLH has become harder to join and even harder to stay in as we have begun our process of taking out hotels that do not meet our stringent standards.                                                                

*Loyalty – **We will be relaunching our loyalty program later this year for our Club members which currently stands at 434,000. The programme will see a shift in focus from mere recognition to rewarding member engagement. **Development – *We’ve had a great year so far and have secured 29 new hotels into the SLH portfolio.  We’ll continue to work hard to secure hotels in currently unfulfilled destinations within our collection such as Sydney and Shanghai in APAC.                                                     

Technology – **Our website was relaunched in end-2014, with an updated Chinese website to be launched in August 2016. The Chinese market continues to be significant, hence we have also enhanced our presence on Weibo and Wechat. We will also be launching Spanish and German websites in 2017. New iPhone and android app were launched in December 2015 and March 2016 in response to the increase in guests booking via mobile (up 12% at the end of Apr 2016) We also relaunched our intranet in June 2016 to better communicate with member hotels through a live, bespoke portal

*Distribution – *For our hotel members, we have launched a new channel management tool, new Internet Booking Engine, new search and meta search options as well as a 2 way integration which stats have shown that they can increase revenue by around 25%

On the marketing front, SLH launched a new “Unadvertised” brand advertising campaign in April 2016, cementing its new brand positioning and embracing its anti-brand status with a bold move away from traditional hotel marketing. The campaign will run until the end of the year across key global markets across major media channels in U.S., UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Australia. With a USD1million spend, it is the most SLH has invested in above the line advertising in our 26-year history.’ Filip Stated.

It seems that technology and distribution channels take up a significant portion of the budget ‘ We are well aware that our competitive set is widening hence why we continue to invest to raise awareness of SLH around the world.  OTAs have carved out their own space within this industry and bring visibility and volume however, we offer something very different to our hotel partners by focusing on driving higher ADR, promoting suite business, creating brand exclusivity, facilitating hotel partnerships, building corporate and incentive business and developing loyalty through active and engaged club members.’

‘We see online platforms gaining increased importance in our line of business, thus we’ve ensured deeper engagement across our social channels including Facebook, WeChat and Weibo.  We have recently launched our iphone and Android mobile apps in January and April respectively where a customer can search and directly book a stay. We are also due to launch our new Chinese language site in Q4 2016, providing our Chinese guests not only with more relevant content but also a more seamless booking experience. We will also launch Spanish and German language websites in 2017. From a b2b perspective, we have just launched our new hotel intranet to better communicate with member hotels through a live, bespoke portal where they can access an overview of their hotel performance in real-time.

Keeping standard and consistency is one of the key priorities within SLH five years strategy.

‘We have adopted a new inspection report and a partnership with Revinate for our Quality Assurance programme so we can adopt a more holistic approach and evaluate hotels based on a wider criteria integrating Club reviews, complaints and wider online reputation. Inspections are now carried out on an annual basis, and re-inspected again within 6 months if they fail the first inspection.’

To ensure the brand standard Filip mentioned further that‘ Those that still don’t reach the required standards will be removed from the collection. We expect 25-30 hotels to be removed from the SLH brand this year as a result of our more stringent quality control. This is necessary to ensure our guests have a memorable stay with our hotels, and our hotel members continue to feel proud to be part of the brand.’