Interview: Julian Haddon of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

don – regional director sales & marketing, Europe, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts - speaks to Aspire about?the hotel group's?agent programme, future openings and the luxury market.

Why should agents take part in your Fairmont Famous programme?
It gives them the ability to get regular updates on Fairmont while being recognised and rewarded for loyalty.
They are able to earn themselves lunches or stays in the hotels while being up to date on new openings and goings on.
For us its a really good way of engaging with a community that is an important extension of our sales network and we must engage with them on a frequent basis.

How important is the UK market to you?
It is a major market for us across all of our hotels. It is fair to say that Germany and the UK are the two largest outbound markets in Europe today. The UK has always been a great follower of our properties in Canada and N America and has increased its footprint in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Is the market behaving differently?
In terms of MICE we have noticed very short lead in times probably because of current uncertainties in the market.
Having previously been 6 month lead ins for group business and up the current Eurozone challenges we are facing and the vulnerability of US market this has dropped to as little as 30 days for substantial pieces of business. In terms of forecasting it is challenging and frightening for that to come in.
Leisure has a longer lead in time. People are downgrading on getting from a to b and seem ready to look at deals on airlines but at the other end they are ready to put their hand in their pocket.
Although I would say the stays are shorter – it was 4 to 5 nights but now 2 to 3 nights. But they want the quality and luxury and the sacrifice is a shorter stay.

What’s on the Fairmont horizon?
In terms of new openings we have five properties scheduled for next year.
Kiev is an up and coming destination for business and leisure travel and we are looking to open around March 2012 in time for European Championships in June.
The Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv will be our first in Eastern Europe. It will be on the Dnipro River in the heart of the historic Podil district.
Also next year we will open in Baku, capital of Eurovision song contest winning Azerbaijan. It is a very interesting destination.
There’s a lot of money and infrastructure going in, it’s Very clean city, a historic city and protected by UNESCO. It’s getting a lot of activity at the moment - there are a number of other brands moving in although we’ve got the prime location right in the centre, dominates the city. Fairmont Baku is located on a prime site next to the Azerbaijan parliament buildings and overlooking the Caspian Sea. This complex, the Flame Towers, will incorporate hotel, residential and commercial space and will be linked by centrally located retail and leisure facilities. It’s in its infancy leisure wise but is another new destination we can introduce and the profile we will receive on back of Eurovision will be positive. Further afield from Eastern Europe we will be opening out first Indian hotel, Fairmont Jaipur around March. Fairmont Makati, Philippines is scheduled to open later in the year together with our second hotel in Dubai the Fairmont Palm Jumeirah.

Is the Presidents Club proving successful?
Our loyalty programme is not a points-based programme - in speaking with our guests they told us recognition and rewards were more valuable to them than a points programme. This led to the creation of Fairmont President's Club and a series of benefits and services designed to enhance their stays with us, such as complimentary Wifi and access to the latest Adidas apparel to help minimise on luggage.? We have recently launched a new framework for the programme that is?designed to capture our members travel-related passions so we can deliver what is most relevant to them.??
In the mature luxury market, we see that consumers are thinking about luxury in a more personal way, how does it relate and reflect upon them, and how the purchases can be experiences, investments, or even small rewards.? What we wanted to do with FPC was more fully engage with our two top tier member groups by increasing the relevancy of the benefits available and surprising them with unexpected benefits, and speak to our entire membership base through tailored communications and offerings around key passions that they themselves choose.? The passions span various interest groups such as sport, food, adventure, health and wellness, leadership and philanthropy and arts/culture and we are pursuing additional categories based on member feedback. As well as offering great dates and great rates for members at selected hotels each month.
Our communication and interaction with them not only happens while they are our guests on property but it also allows us to engage with them outside of Fairmont, as many of the benefits they can select in their interest groups are ones that can be enjoyed at home.? We gain greater insight into what they want and are thus able to deliver richer, more meaningful value to them by making their desires real.? Our programme is growing all the time.