What Do The World’s Best Hotels And Hoteliers Have In Common?

Part 2 – The Brand ‘Big Picture’

Hoteliering is indeed an exciting line of business, far detached from the ho-hum and banality of a lot of other businesses. There is never a dull moment, with each department running itself into a frenzy of heightened activity. There is always that mad dash to deliver the service to the most discerning of guests and to present the brand values in the best way possible. There is a perpetual sense of fire in the business of hotels – for one, the quintessential hotelier has the fire in his belly to endeavour for excellence in the simplest of tasks, to smooth out the rough edges and to envision creative strategies for the future path; then there is, obviously, fire in the kitchen and finally the fire stemming from work exigencies and a myriad crises that wrought a normal hotel work day.


What Do The World’s Best Hotels And Hoteliers Have In Common?

With no two work days being alike and no two guests with the same set of traits and demands, hotels are always evolving and differentiating; attempting to develop the most suitable template for their target audience.

Amidst all this are hotels that reach the pinnacle in their game plan – that of putting out excellent infrastructure beset within an exquisite piece of architecture, boasting a team of zealous superstars, aligning themselves with the changing guest demands at all times, ensuring safety and privacy and offering hospitality of the finest order. A good example would be Eagle Pass Hotels.

The world’s finest, having taken care of the ‘basics’, always have a ‘Big Picture’ to address the strategic blueprint –

  1. Your flag on the map

It has been seen that location is many a times the key deciding factor in brand selection, a little more than the other facets. On a business visit, a city center hotel is of main consideration. When transiting frequently, the airport hotel regardless of its standards is what we tend to pick out. On a holiday, the location with the best views or close to main attractions or with special features of its own is what we are keen to choose.

As a hotel owner, do a lot of due diligence on the location. I recall the location issues the top sub-brand of a leading international hotel chain had to battle as the Chain opened their Five- star deluxe hotel in the Commercial Capital of India with much fanfare but with a view of a large cluster of slums. No amount of fine dining, finer aspects of luxury, a pulsating events calendar and the charms of a great Spa and Wine Cellar could help the hotel downplay the negatives of its disastrously unenviable location.

“The location has to be right and the size has to be right. You can’t build the hotel and then build the market,” asserts Biki Oberoi, the father of modern hoteliering in India in his interview with a leading Financial Daily.

As a proprietor, choose wisely before allowing the plan to take birth. And as an on-the-line hotelier make the most of your location. It is a strong force of attraction for your clientele and a strong selling point.

  1. Keeping the guests ensnared

While working with one of India’s oldest hotels, I along with the Art & Antiquity Manager delighted in giving an art tour of the in-house galleries to the discerning guests. That the hotel houses a large collection of lithographs and period artifacts made for such an inspired walk-through and a splendid activity.

Jules Undersea Lodge in Florida, world’s only underwater hotel that guests have to ‘dive’ 21FT. to enter offers an experience which breaks away from every other tried and tested mould. Yes, there is the mandatory scuba diving, but living amidst sea life, dining with the sharks and reading your favourite piece of literature while being watched by a floating whale here or a sea horse there is a matchless experience that will stay with you forever. By delivering a fresh pizza to you through a diving delivery man, the Lodge turns something banal into bombastic.

At the other end of the continuum, Ananda in the Himalayas – arguably the best Destination Spa Resort in the world – urges you to rediscover yourself in its tranquil surroundings. At the mountain resort, just meditating, watching the skyline, strolling around the hillscape make for such alleviated levels of pleasure and contentment.

Therefore, whatever kind of place that you may run and wherever it may be located, ensure that there are things to ensnare your guests and entrap them in the homegrown or locational string of activities or non-activities.

  1. Nurturing a Corporate Conscientiousness

At one of the international chains I worked with, we committed ‘X’ number of volunteering hours to be spent with inhabitants of a Blind Relief Society. At another place, we kicked off a cleanliness drive on World Environment Day and carried the ardour through the year not only to clean up the neighbourhood but also prominent riversides and beaches in designated cities.

In a 2009 Study on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility in the Hospitality Industry,’ Professor Christine Lynn, Ph.D. states that “Disaster management, such as needed after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, found several takers from prominent global chains. Best Western, Hilton group, Accor, Intercontinental, and Six Senses committed over $2.5 million, and other chains also provided aid.”

Brands that do good also do well – a Study in 2003 HSMAI Marketing Review gives an example of social inclusiveness. “Marriott’s “Pathways to Independence” program puts welfare recipients through rigorous training to enable them to move into employment positions with Marriott,” the Study cites. “Charity is good, but integrated pro-poor activities such as these enable people to help themselves out of poverty while at the same time benefitting the benefactor,” reasserts Lynn.

In a Paper titled ‘Corporate social responsibility: What are top hotel companies reporting?’ that appeared in the 2007 edition of the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, J. L. Holcomb, R.S. Upchurch and F. Okumus write that “Eight out of the ten top hotel companies (80%), as designated by Hotels magazine (official publication of the International Hotel and Restaurant Association), reported giving charitable donations, 60% reported having diversity policies, and 40% mentioned social responsibility as part of their company mission statements. The top ten hotel companies’ web sites and annual reports were analyzed and the information found was categorized into community, environment, marketplace, vision and values, and workforce. Hilton Corporation was found to have the most comprehensive CSR reporting. Marriot came in as second most comprehensive and the Accor hotel group was third.”

There are several benefits at so many different levels of being socially responsible. If you are a conscientious, socially responsible corporate then you are viewed as a wholesome leader of the pack, are respected by customers on both ends of the fence – the employees look up to you and the guests hold you in high esteem, your brand recall value is far greater than when you put in large percentage of your earnings into hugely expensive media plans. What’s more, being socially responsible not only makes you look good, it makes you feel better.

There is no better approach to imprint your positive image on the collective mindscape of your target audience and to leave, inarguably, an indelible footprint on the global hospitality stratosphere.


L. Aruna Dhir
L. Aruna Dhir
L. Aruna Dhir is a Hospitality & Feature Writer and Columnist for some of the world’s highest-ranked Hospitality publications. Her industry writings are syndicated to the finest global hospitality bodies and used as references in case studies and hotel schools. Aruna runs an exclusive channel on the award-winning media digest, BizCatalyst 360° called “Hospitality Matters” based on her hospitality industry insight and commentary. Aruna is a recognized and national-poll winning Corporate Communications Specialist, PR Strategist, and Writer. A seasoned hotelier, Aruna loves to present hospitality industry watch, insights, case studies, and analysis to her ever-increasing base of global readership. Aruna has over two decades of experience in Hospitality Communications and Brand Management and has worked with some of the best global hotel companies. In her last corporate role, Aruna was the Director – Public Relations at The Imperial New Delhi, where she was part of the core group and was responsible for re-launching The Imperial as one of the finest hotels in India and Asia. Aruna’s hotel experience includes leading the Marketing Communications and Public Relations portfolio for flagship properties at The Oberoi Group and Hyatt International. She also helped launch the Vilases as the uber-luxury experiences from the Oberoi stable. As an industry expert, Aruna has launched brands, developed training modules, created standardization dockets on business communication, written manuals, conducted Image Study & Positioning Analysis, and led media campaigns of Australian Ministers in India. Aruna Dhir’s successful work tenure with Australia’s Diplomatic Mission in India in the capacity of Media Relations Officer, saw her working on a host of never-done-before exciting projects including the hugely rewarding organisation of Australia-India New Horizons – Australia’s largest ever Country Promotion. Aruna Dhir is the first-ever Creative Writer for the Indian greeting cards giant – ARCHIES Greetings and Gifts Ltd. The milestone puts her in the league of Helen Steiner Rice and Amanda Bradley. While with the company she came out with several series of cards sold under her byline – an unprecedented feat that has not been repeated since. L. Aruna Dhir also dabbles in poetry and has to her credit two titles of Anthologies published and marketed by Archies G&G Ltd. Aruna serves on the Board of Association of Emerging Leaders Dialogues (AELD), a front-running Commonwealth Body that works towards developing leaders and influencers of tomorrow, with Princess Anne as its international President. Aruna has been engaged in freelance work for Doordarshan – the Indian National Television, All India Radio, and Times FM. Academically, L. Aruna Dhir topped at the All-India level in her PG Diploma in Public Relations and Advertising. Aruna has been a Ph.D. scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, akin to an Ivy League in India. She has earned a Senior Management Course Certification from the Oberoi Centre for Learning & Development in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow; V Dimension Management Company, London & Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines. Aruna Dhir has represented India to a select group of opinion-makers in the United States, as a Cultural Ambassador under the GSE Program of Rotary International. She has also participated in the IXth Commonwealth Study Conference held in Australia and chaired by Princess Anne. Aruna is a Life Member of the Public Relations Society of India A Freelance Writer since 1987, with articles that have appeared in India’s topmost newspapers and magazines, Aruna is also a blogger, a memoirist with works published on platforms like Medium and a Book reviewer on Goodreads. In her official and personal capacity L. Aruna Dhir has and continues to work on several social awareness projects – People for Animals, Earthquake Relief, National Blind Association, PETA, WSPA,, Friendicoes to name a few. Born at Allahabad (now Prayagraj), one of the world’s oldest known cities, L. Aruna Dhir grew up and did her schooling in Dehradun, regarded as a prominent seat of academia and literature. After being brought up in the sylvan surroundings of the verdant Doon valley, Aruna chose to make the Capital City of Delhi her second home.

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  1. Aruna: As always you hit the mark with your observations. There is so much to the hotel business that an outsider simply can not imagine. From location to concept, to design, to marketing to operations and all that goes into all those facets and many more. One has to live it to understand it and as you say, no two days are the same. I always had trouble believing that people paid me to have so much fun.

    • Rightly said Ken! From a hesitant entrant, I soon became a hotel convert. And once you are in, you can never get out; hotels live in your mind. Hotels stay with you. Thank you for your insights Ken!