As he prepares to launch The World’s 50 Best Hotels, the group’s managing director reveals how brands can establish trust with their audiences, what makes a great hotel and his pet peeves when travelling.
The 50 Best brand represents trust in judging processes and expert opinion. What do you think is most important for brands to know when building trust with their own consumers?
Brands must be credible, authoritative and transparent. 50 Best has been creating rankings for restaurants and bars for over 20 years, becoming the global leader in providing the most reliable lists of expert-curated restaurants and bars. We have done this by establishing a credible and transparent voting system which, in turn, has led to the creation of lists that inspire consumers to travel, explore and discover.
How can businesses maintain trust?
By staying true to their values and embodying those values throughout all facets of the business. At 50 Best, for example, we like to say that we are a positive force in hospitality and seek to unite the global restaurant, bar and now hotel communities. However, we know it’s not enough just to say that; we need to show it through action, too. For example, during 2020, we launched a ‘50 Best for Recovery’ programme, including raising $1.29m for restaurants and bars struggling to survive the fallout from the pandemic. When a business is faced with major challenges, that is when its values are truly put to the test.
As THE company that dictates a business’s standing in the hospitality industry, what are some of the key attributes that make a restaurant, bar and hotel truly great?
50 Best’s voting process is unique because there is no single criteria which makes a restaurant, bar or hotel ‘great’ or ‘the best’. That is up to each voter to decide – as everyone’s tastes are different, so everyone’s idea of what constitutes a great experience is different. There is no one quality or example of exceptional hospitality as this could be down to an establishment’s outstanding service, its menus, the ambience or, most likely, a combination of all these and other elements.
You’re about to launch 50 Best Hotels – what can hoteliers learn from your experience in restaurants and bars to improve their own product?
They can learn something that they probably already know: that the focus must be squarely on the guest experience, and never on seeking recognition or awards. The latter may come as a by-product of the former but should never take precedence. In addition, hotels can ensure that they never stand still and that they continue to look at ways of enhancing their offer, even when they are considered one of the ‘best’.
Where are you off to next?
I have just returned from Cornwall and then I’m sailing in the Greek islands so I’ll be staying put in the UK for a while as we have the inaugural awards ceremony for The World’s 50 Best Hotels in London on 19 September. Then I’m off to Singapore for The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 in October.
What tips do you have for being a better traveller?
Always remember you are a visitor; good manners are essential, and so is tipping.
What are your key requirements for a hotel when choosing where to stay?
A great location, a warm welcome, personalised amenities and early check-in and late check-out.
What are your pet peeves when travelling?
I am not very keen on room service – waiting for it, the awkwardness of it arriving and someone setting it up. I have had food delivered from outside the hotel when I’ve wanted to eat in my room. I have also coined a new phrase: FOBIA – fear of booking in advance. I am terrible for keeping my options open when travelling; I find it difficult to commit to specific reservations, although when they are booked I always turn up, of course. Lack of transparency over paperwork requirements is also one of my pet peeves. I nearly missed a flight back from Vegas this year because it suddenly transpired that I needed a Canadian visa to transit through Calgary Airport – that was stressful.
How easy do you find it to switch off when travelling?
I swear by my Bose Quiet Comfort 45 noise-reducing headphones. And sometimes I take my own pillow with me on holidays, especially to Airbnb properties. I try and make sure I get a reasonable night’s sleep both on the plane and in the hotel, and I try to get on the local time zone as soon as I arrive so I can acclimate as quickly as possible. Jet lag can be a real killer.
Are there any destinations still on your bucket list?
I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t been to Africa. I hope to change that within the next couple of years.
What are your top travelling tips?
A couple of years ago we launched 50 Best Discovery, a website where you can find some of the best bars and restaurants in the world which have been voted for by our Academies but didn’t necessarily make it onto the 50 Best lists. I find this resource invaluable for finding hidden gems where you can actually get a reservation.
The awards ceremony for The World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023 will be streamed live on the 50 Best Facebook channel via the link here and YouTube channel via the link here. The announcement of the list and individual awards can be followed via the 50 Best social media channels, with the livestream beginning at 20.25 (UK time).