Interview Spotlight: Staying Relevant in the Luxury Hospitality Market
Rosie Shephard, Founder, Luxury Communications Council
With 13 years of experience in global communications, Rosie is the Founder of the Luxury Communications Council, an exclusive community of London’s top communication and marketing experts in the luxury sector. Until recently, Rosie also served as Global Communications Director of Rocco Forte Hotels where she managed a team of 15 overseeing the brand reputation as well as campaigns for the 13 hotels in the international hotel group.
Rosie worked agency side for nine years where her award winning campaigns spanned the different vertical sectors ranging from travel & tourism, restaurants & bars, fashion & beauty and retail with clients such as Etihad Airways, Simple Skincare, Peroni Nastro Azzuro, Selfridges, Dorchester Collection and Corinthia Hotel London.
Rosie recently worked with PR Week to curate the top 40 most influential people in luxury communications for the PR Week Power Book 2018 and is a lead judge for the PR Week Awards.
Her mantra: If not now, when? – “I find it very motivational in all aspects of my life ensuring that I am proactive and efficient at all times.”
Rosie, we’re so looking forward to welcoming you and your incredible expertise on to the panel at TREND in September. Tell us, where did your passion for hospitality begin and how did you get into the industry?
My first job, 15 years ago, was conducting the global communications for Etihad Airways which was launching at that time. A very daunting task for a 21 year old! I was frequently sent out to Abu Dhabi to host journalists where we would stay at the Emirates Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. I fell in love with hospitality and never looked back, carving out a career to ensure that I could work with some of the most prestigious hotel groups in the world – Dorchester Collection, Corinthia Hotels, Rocco Forte Hotels and many more.
There’s a lot of talk about hospitality being less advanced in digital than other luxury sectors (such as fashion and automotive). In your opinion who’s leading the way in hospitality?
I think there are some clear hospitality leaders in the digital space, but they are new players in the market, not the traditional offerings. Those who have redefined how people travel such as the One Fine Stay and Victor Jets have disrupted the sector entirely and really highlighted the lack of progress across the rest of the sector. There are amazing hospitality solutions available which transform how the back-of-house systems work in hospitality, but they are a huge investment and process to transfer across to them, so not enough hospitality companies have taken this step yet.
How can luxury hotels stay relevant amongst platforms like AirBnB Plus and Home Away?
There are many things that draw guests to choose a specific hotel to stay – it may be the cool buzz surrounding it, the renowned service offering, the rich history of the building or love for a specific brand. All of these will continue to be large strong driving factors, ensuring that people continue to chose hotels.
When it comes to luxury hospitality, millenials are constantly seeking the most authentic and shareable experiences. If you could give one piece of advice to a hotel or restaurant brand trying to raise their profile amongst this audience, what would it be?
The most important thing for a hotel or restaurant to have to attract and retain the millenial audience is to have assets that are ‘instagramable’. This may be a beautiful display on the bar, an exciting interior design or a unique looking dish. Millenials cannot share what they cannot capture so providing opportunities to do this is vital.
You recently founded LCC – The Luxury Communications Council. Can you tell us a bit more about it and how you’ve seen luxury comms evolve over the past five years?
I founded the Luxury Communications Council in January 2017 as a private network for luxury industry communication and marketing directors, with a view to drive the industry forward.
The LCC connect experts across the different luxury vertical sectors, facilitates peer to peer learnings and encourages collaborations and strategic partnerships. We now have 50 members, all from top level brands such as Net a Porter, Hermes, Rolex, Cartier, Soho House Group and Conde Nast International.
On 1st November 2018, we are launching the first LCC Leaders Forum at the newly launched White City House. The event will be the first that non members who are director level inhouse or in an agency are invited to be part of. It will focus on sharing insights and intelligence with guest speakers such as the President of Conde Nast International, the Editor in Chief of Vogue International, the CMO of Soho House Group and the Fashion and Luxury Editor of the New York Times. Reserve your spot now via the website!
Over the last five years, the target consumer has completely altered – millennials finally have the spending power to enter into the luxury market in a big way, markets such as China have evolved and become far more prominent and the retail experience has shifted to entirely.
Owing to these things, the landscape is entirely different to five years ago leaving brands struggling to keep up. Lucky they have companies like Rosie Shephard Communications and Verb Brands to assist…!
Don’t miss Rosie speaking at #TRENDbyVERB discussing Luxury Hospitality Digital Innovations on 12th September at the Century Club. Reserve your place here.