Skift Take

While others are launching or acquiring new brands to increase their global footprints, Four Seasons has stuck with a singular brand that boasts diverse luxury properties. How long it will continue to play the contrarian in this world of mergers and soft brands is another story.

With a slew of hotels in the pipeline for 2016, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has remained remarkably linear in its approach to scale.

There are no soft brands or contemporary collections, nor are there any mergers and acquisitions currently brewing in the pot. Instead CEO J. Allen Smith sustained a business strategy that employed a singular focus on the luxury hotel and residential segment of the market.

Smith says that Four Seasons is confident about its position in the market.

“As others are becoming bigger and becoming managers of a multitude of brands, we think there is great value in being able to continue to reinforce the clarity of who we are, what we stand for, and how we serve our guests,” Smith says.

This year Four Seasons plans to open in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New York, Kuwait, Kyoto and in a couple of other markets globally. The company may not boast a wide and varied portfolio of brands, but Smith stresses its range of properties that are far from cookie-cutter commodities.

That individual attention to detail and custom-crafting unique resorts, hotels or residential properties is not just reflected in the physical spaces of the hotels, Smith adds, but also in the customer service Four Seasons is held accountable for.

“We are trying to understand our guests as deeply as possible to provide the services that are important to them,” Smith says. “I am confident that we will continue to prosper in this environment because that is what we do really well…and that is what people come to expect from a brand like ours.”

Which makes the absence of a loyalty program as defined by parameters set by big flags like Marriott a unique differentiator in a points-saturated market.

“Points-based programs where the more you stay, the more freebies you get, that we don’t have and we do not intend to launch one,” Smith says.

Four Seasons continues to use recognition as a message of appreciation for its most loyal guests. Among those vehicles to deliver personal and meaningful experiences is Four Seasons mobile app, Smith says.

“A further expression of that is in the mobile app we launched in 2015, available globally and in Mandarin, which allows us to touch the broader constituency of people to better understand and be able to respond to their needs,” Smith says. “It is an interface to reach out people but it is a way that can be very personalized.”

Smith acknowledges that 2016’s debut is marked by volatile markets in China and globally along with geopolitical factors negatively weighing on tourism, all translating to a difficult-to-predict risk environment.

Yet he remains sanguine about opportunities available to Four Seasons and the direction in which the brand is heading.

“Our singular focus to our business is a terrific response to what is happening in the broader market place and we have tremendous confidence in what we will be able to do in that regards and how we will continue to differentiate Four Seasons from others who choose to play in the luxury segment.”

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Tags: ceo interviews, four seasons

Photo credit: Four Seasons Resorts Maldives. Four Seasons

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