Interview Spotlight: Building a High-end Online Presence

Interview with Anna Nash, Head of Global Public Relations, Aman

Panel speaker at TREND

Anna Nash has spent more than 16 years in the luxury hospitality industry working with some of the finest hotels, brands and travel experiences in the world. Currently, as the Head of Global Public Relations for Aman, Anna directs all brand communications, public relations initiatives and social media for the company. As a core part of the executive team, Anna oversees the strategic direction for global media outreach, all the while focusing on protecting and nurturing the Aman brand.

Ahead of TREND on Tuesday 25th of July, we’ve compiled seven key questions to know more of Anna’s expertise, experience and thoughts on the evolution of the luxury hospitality industry.

1 .What brought you to work in hospitality?

I am drawn to making connections with people, and the hospitality industry is the natural place for this to happen. I have always longed to travel, to experience as many different countries and cultures as possible, so it made sense to combine a deep rooted passion with my career. I studied Business Management with Tourism Management at University and my tenure within the hospitality industry thus far has been with Orient-Express (now Belmond), Rosewood Hotels, and Aman where I am currently Head of Global Public Relations.

2. With over 16 years experience in luxury hospitality, what would you say has been the major change that hotels have seen in the last decade?

The hotel industry is going through a period of unprecedented, irreversible change. The industry is increasingly consumer-led; digital technologies are shifting the balance of power towards the consumer.  Consumers are armed with up to date information, they are able to check on hotel reviews, do easy price comparisons and are increasingly reaching out to the digital world to confirm their booking. They are also more aware of what they want out of a holiday, and with modern society’s frenetic pace, which seems to be ever gaining speed, they need to switch off, escape reality and seek authentic experiences. We have also seen an increase in the number of short breaks with consumers eager to cram in as much holiday time as possible. Instagram has been a major game changer for the hotel industry as a powerful medium to compel people to travel and experience all the world has to offer.

3. What would you say is the main challenge for a luxury brand like Aman to succeed with its communications strategy?

The world that people live in now is very different; the way consumers look for information is also very different. We have to be willing to find consumers where they are, as opposed to where we would like them to be.  We have to learn to communicate in very different ways. It means having a 360 approach. Millennials prefer to get multiple bits of data from multiple sources and we have to be in all those places in addition to print and radio. We were late to the social media show, as have always been very protective of our brand. That said, we now fully embrace it and have realised that actually, a strategic all-encompassing communications plan including social media can actually break down barriers between brand and consumer. All communications should bring forth our roots, brand story and human elements. We must continue to develop desire, dreams and aspirations.

4. For luxury hotels, why is social media so important?

For businesses, social media represents both opportunity and risk. On one hand, social media provides brands with a platform to connect with customers and shape their perceptions. On the other, social media has unquestionably shifted power to the individual, who can tarnish long-established brands with a single angry blog post or quickly coalesce vast numbers of people behind a cause.  

That said, wanderlust and the quest to satiate that desire is ever strong. Add to that the continuing power of social media and with it, the craving of consumers to share their spell-binding photos certainly inspires and enthuses followers on their quest for enrichment and escapism. Therefore those destinations that are particularly photogenic and ‘Instagramable’ will be very much on trend – think the bright lights of bustling cities, especially those with instantly recognisable and iconic monuments, or destinations which are off the beaten track but peppered with colourful culture such as Bhutan – it’s those beautiful and compelling destinations that will draw in a new crowd who are inspired by the instantaneous feed of those they follow.

Social media provides a two-way communication between customer and brand and with its immediate effect can work in line with the ebb and flow of business needs. ‘Likes’ are the predominant currency of the online social space and if the correct strategy is in place it can be a valuable source of revenue. Consumers hate choice and they are bombarded with it in today’s modern digital – that’s why they love trends and going on social media for ideas and inspiration

All in all – If we don’t tell our story…someone else will. We have to ‘own’ our voice in the digital world. As Oscar Wilde once said “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” – we have to be part of the conversation.

5. Does Aman use influencers of any type for marketing purposes?

We do. Yes. But with great caution, although we do understand the power and influence of this relatively new medium. As ever, our quest is to convey the story of Aman and our destinations and whilst we continue to place a great emphasis on traditional media, we do work with a select few influencers and will invite them to experience Aman first-hand so that they are able to correctly convey it to their audience. We approach it with caution to ensure we are not dispelling the mystique of the brand and all that we stand for.

6. Which industry inefficiencies do you think the hospitality market is facing today? Which ones do you think will disappear?

A good question. On the whole, I would suggest that much of the industry is out of touch with who their customers are and exactly what their customers want. Consumers are faced with so much choice and now empowered by technology are able to make quick and informed booking decisions. Consumers want it now and want it right the first time. Companies not adapting to this fast-paced model are likely to disappear.

7. What is next for luxury hotel marketing? 

There is so much chatter online that we, as brands, need to be closely monitoring – not only for complaints but in order for us to better understand our customers and their changing habits and trends. This will ensure that we are always at least two steps ahead of their expectations. The future is shaped by our consumers so we need to be as close to them as we possibly can be – finding the right platform to give us this intelligence is key. There are so many out there, but we’ve found that there isn’t one that does it all.

Don’t miss Anna Nash participating in the panel debate at Trend, next Tuesday 25th of July. Daisy Bird from Bird Travel PR and Holly Tuppen from Bouteco Hotels will also be there. Ana Andjelic will be the keynote speaker.
A few tickets remain. Reserve your place here.

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