Redefining Luxury
Category: Forbes Life By : Erza S.T. Read : 113 Date : Friday, November 10, 2017 - 08:55:27




Alexander Thian

Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd. owns and operates the Hong Kong’s legendary Peninsula hotel, and other Peninsula hotels around the world, and is controlled by the Hong Kong billionaire family Kadoorie. As Chinese tourists become the world’s biggest travelers, Hongkong and Shanghai hotels is poised to benefit from this boom. Yet the group must adapt to a changing definition of luxury—less glitz and glitter, and more about personalized service and user experience. Peter Borer, the chief operating officer of Hongkong and Shanghai hotels, has spent 35 years with the company, becoming COO in 2004. He was named “corporate hotelier of the year” by trade magazine Hotels in 2013. During the International Luxury Travel Market Asia event in Shanghai in June, Peter gave an interview in the suite of the Peninsula Shanghai of his group’s evolving definition of hospitality.

Forbes Indonesia: How do you upgrade the hotels for the next generation of travelers?

Peter Borer: We were very fortunate to be working for a family, the Kadoories, who has been involved with the company since the 18th century, 150 years ago. This year we had a generational change, as Philip, the son of Sir Michael Kadoorie, our current chairman, has just joined the company. Philip is still young—around 25 years old, so there’s a continuity on the top in terms of the organization. Thus we will continue to be with the family for another generation, which is good news. From a brand point of view, I believe it’s important to recognize your roots and values, and never deviate from those. It’s also important to continue to evolve, to become younger. Yet the overall brand principle has to stay the same, because you dilute it by trying to be many things to many people—and lose your identity.

FI: What does the modern business traveler want?

PB: To me, the most important thing about our hotel, is not how trendy it is, but how functional it is. Because we all travel a lot, and to me if a hotel doesn’t function, forget it! They can have a giraffe in the lobby but if you wait for 20 minutes for hot water to come on, I’m done! I got in from London this morning and I’ll be in Hong Kong tomorrow and I was in Paris last week. I don’t have time for a 20-minute introduction to my room and in the end, I don’t know how to turn off the light. You know what I mean? So, time is an essence. You have to functional—and it has got to be in the highest level of functionality, and we take that very seriously.

FI: How do you create awareness about the Peninsula hotels?

PB: What we are trying to do is draw from the initial concepts of the Peninsula Hong Kong, which opened in 1928. We welcome everybody in—young, old, rich, beautiful and not so beautiful. But everybody comes together and, to me, that is a good hotel. You do not segregate by nationality, you do not segregate by wealth, you do not segregate by anything but you let everybody come in. So that is our philosophy. When we were taking Peninsula to Paris—and it works well with the French—we were a bit apprehensive at the beginning because we are from Asia. We trained our staff explicitly to open the door, to welcome everybody and not judge them. 

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