‘Tis always the season to deliver on ‘The List’

By Andrew Flack

As a hotel investor or operator, you know the impact of making Condé Nast Traveler’s coveted lists. The lists are combed by seasoned travelers curious about hotel recommendations and the perspectives of those whose opinions they respect. Jetsetters with style. Travel experts with refined taste. Cool people’s opinions about cool destinations.

The Condé Nast Traveler (CNT) Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry, with more than 800,000 travel enthusiasts voting in 2021. Their readers appreciate quality, bespoke surroundings and personalized experiences. They are discerning.

For a hotel operator and investor, a Condé Nast award is an undeniable demand generator, fast-tracking consumer choice and recommendation—and boosting revenue. This is particularly important for new and independent hotels that lack an established following or a brand engine pumping out bookings 24/7.

For a company with a diverse portfolio of branded and independent properties, getting on “the list” is important, but how does a hotel achieve such a distinctive designation and how do you deliver on the expected value proposition after receiving a spot on the list? We see it as three-fold:

Service: Experienced travelers know when a hotel has a great service culture and when it is lacking. It is a feeling you get, particularly when a hotel is busy, which either projects reassurance that everything will be well or an uneasy feeling that the service experience could falter at any moment.

Distinctive surroundings: Thoughtful local design that has an identifiable theme or reflects the region. Condé Nast feature articles are built around destinations for a reason. Their readers want a feeling of local connection, with a sense of style and design that is distinct, memorable and sharable.

Unique experience: Higher-end travelers care deeply about experiences that are personalized to them. Take time to understand each transient guest and use that knowledge in a meaningful way. For example, the independent Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel features vinyl record players in each guestroom, and the hotel team changes up the LPs provided to reflect the guest’s age and background.

In order to be successful in winning and delivering on awards, it is also critical for there to be a deep integration between operations and marketing. Marketing managers are encouraged to be the voice of the customer and to work closely on building the guest experience. This feeds into marketing storytelling that comes from the heart, and projects real passion for the property and its people. The virtuous partnership follows the customer journey from enquiry to departure, culminating in the opportunity to invite guests to participate in the annual voting, then offer them celebration packages and treats when success is achieved.

The Condé Nast Traveler awards are a celebration of love for travel and hospitality. Something that even a pandemic has failed to diminish.

Andrew Flack is chief commercial officer of Marcus Hotels & Resorts. Marcus Hotels & Resorts is a hotel management company with a portfolio of 19 hotels across the country, primarily full-service assets, both branded and independent.

This is a contributed piece to Hotel Business, authored by an industry professional. The thoughts expressed are the perspective of the bylined individual.