Skift Take

Independent hotels and the marketing groups that serve them are under threat from majors picking off properties to join their own "independent" programs as well as big booking sites that require them to cede more control than they want to. SLH's changes are necessary, to say the least.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a luxury brand with an extensive roster of independent hotels around the world, is ending 2015 with some big changes, including the appointment of a new CEO and the unveiling of its new brand identity.

Filip Boyen stepped into the position of CEO in late October following the departure of his predecessor Paul Kerr who spearheaded the brand for the past 25 years.

Under Boyen’s leadership, Small Luxury Hotels shifts into new gears to embark on the “SLH Way,” a nascent identity aimed to align more closely align the brand with its core traveler base.

To better serve its guests, SLH will introduce a loyalty scheme in late 2016 called Very Independent People to better reward its loyalty program of 350,000 consumers. Collections of other independent hotels, including Leading Hotels of the World and Design Hotels have already developed their own robust loyalty programs or partnered with larger ones in order to improve both distribution and a higher level of recognition for frequent guests.

Another crucial undertaking for SLH as it enters the new year is a refreshed set of standards for hotels interested in joining the SLH family as well as those that wish to remain members.

Properties have less than 50 rooms, a cutoff point that sticks to the “small” in its name. Its current quality assurance program requires that each hotel undergoes site inspection every 18 months, former CEO Kerr told Skift in an interview earlier this year, with plans for annual inspections in the pipeline. Pending the review, hotels are given a 70-page report telling them what’s right, what’s wrong, or what the consumer feels.

SLH, which comprises approximately 520 hotels in 80 countries around the world, is taking measures to better cater to its guests by entering new markets in 2016 including Ibiza, Dubai, Hawaii, Munich, and Sydney along with several major U.S. cities.

The last leg of its “SLH Way” journey is its goal to launch language specific websites, including an updated Chinese website as well as German and Spanish websites. Germany is among SLH’s target markets, and it has a strong presence in the Asian market, particularly China, where it offers nearly 20 properties for guests to choose from.

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Tags: hotels, marketing

Photo credit: IDW Esperanza Resort is a Small Luxury Hotel located in Trakai, Lithuania. Small Luxury Hotels

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