A Pas­sion for Travel

The newly pro­moted CEO of Pre­ferred Ho­tel Group, Lind­sey Ue­ber­roth, talks lux­ury, points and brag­ging rights

Business Traveler (USA) - - UPFRONT -

BT: What is your el­e­va­tor pitch for the sea­soned trav­eler?

UE­BER­ROTH: Pre­ferred Ho­tel Group de­liv­ers unique, one of a kind prop­er­ties that are au­then­tic to each des­ti­na­tion. Much like the des­ti­na­tion, the ho­tels are an ex­pe­ri­ence within them­selves and when a trav­eler leaves, it is some­thing that is im­printed in their hearts and minds.

BT: There is an in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sion thread on a so­cial net­work about defin­ing lux­ury. How would you char­ac­ter­ize “Lux­ury”?

UE­BER­ROTH: Lux­ury is very per­sonal. Travel re­quires an in­vest­ment of time; there are nu­mer­ous choices and a wide va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences. It is much more than the phys­i­cal as­pect and also re­quires amaz­ing people, in­ter­ac­tions, and ex­pe­ri­ences. People want to re­turn home with “brag­ging rights” or cock­tail con­ver­sa­tion about their trip. It is more a re­sult and de­liv­er­ing an el­e­vated sense of pos­i­tive emo­tions that people then love to share with oth­ers.

BT: With chal­lenges in to­day’s loy­alty pro­grams, how do you think fre­quent trav­el­ers see your iPre­fer pro­gram?

UE­BER­ROTH: We have stud­ied this topic ex­ten­sively. From air­line to ho­tels and var­i­ous as­pects of trav­eler’s be­hav­ior, we have spent three years study­ing loy­alty pro­grams, point schemes and loy­alty struc­tures. We see loy­alty mem­bers look­ing for three crit­i­cal items that we have made in­her­ent to iPre­fer:

One, trans­parency. Know­ing the value and the cash value of points al­lows iPre­fer mem­bers to un­der­stand the pos­si­bil­i­ties in re­deem­ing points.

Two, flex­i­bil­ity. Since iPre­fer points have a de­fined value, mem­bers can redeem their points for more than ho­tel stays – like spa treat­ments, meals or golf among other things at par­tic­i­pat­ing pro­gram prop­er­ties.

Three, unique ex­pe­ri­ences. With over 70 per­cent of the 650 unique prop­er­ties par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram, we are able to of­fer a large num­ber of very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences that make re­wards and re­demp­tion more in­ter­est­ing, de­liv­er­ing many dif­fer­ent mem­o­ries from around the world.

BT: As the pres­i­dent and now CEO, what do you feel are the unique op­por­tu­ni­ties you have with pre­mium trav­el­ers that oth­ers in the space don’t?

UE­BER­ROTH: I see the role I’m do­ing as not that much dif­fer­ent, just ful­fill­ing it with my in­flu­ence and touch go­ing for­ward. It is still very early so I have re­ally en­joyed fly­ing around the world talk­ing to trav­el­ers, part­ners and ho­tels with a dif­fer­ent set of eyes and ears. Look­ing for new trig­gers to fur­ther shape my opin­ions. A fun re­birth of look­ing at what we do.

BT: With re­spect to growth, what is your mag­i­cal mix?

UE­BER­ROTH: In­de­pen­dent ho­tels con­tinue to pick up steam. In the next sev­eral years I want to po­si­tion the Pre­ferred Ho­tel Group as an iconic global brand and the place to go that is a won­der­ful, unique and ful­fill­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

With that goal, of course I need many things but some keys are more of the same great people and talent as we al­ready have at ev­ery level. I also need to con­tinue to make sure we have the right ho­tels in the right lo­ca­tions. And then that those ho­tels are ful­fill­ing the var­i­ous as­pects of what trav­el­ers are look­ing for, whether that is busi­ness, spa, culi­nary, sports or what have you. People travel for their pas­sion. A great ex­am­ple is our com­mu­nity we have built around the Pre­ferred Golf collection. We have built a great collection of ho­tels that re­ally caters to the en­thu­si­ast.

BT: As guests leave your prop­er­ties, what im­pres­sion do you want them to have?

UE­BER­ROTH: I want people to leave a Pre­ferred Ho­tel Group property with a mem­ory, a sense of brag­ging rights around the ex­pe­ri­ence; the meal, the ser­vice, the whole pack­age. I want them to tell their friends and see them again at this property or an­other Pre­ferred Ho­tel.

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