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Getting to Know SLH better through Paul Kerr

May 5, 2014 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Recently, e-Global Travel Media was extremely honored to have an opportunity to an exclusive interview with Paul Kerr, CEO and also the man himself behind the vastly expanding success of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH).

The SLH brand has a portfolio of some of the world’s finest small independent hotels. With a total of over 500 hotels in more than 70 countries around the world, the diversity of the individual hotels, and the experiences offered are outstanding. From design hotels to lavish 17th century mansions, city centre sanctuaries to remote private islands, historic country houses to idyllic resorts, Small Luxury Hotels of the World offers beyond the very best.

The Small Luxury Hotels of the World has grown brilliantly in the years, the group had 70 hotels in 12 countries in 1992 and presently they are present in 70 countries with over 500 hotels. Last year, the SLH portfolio grew by 55 hotels with 29 new hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 17 in Asia Pacific and 9 in the Americas. SLH aims to equal this growth this year.

Waiting for us by the calm poolside of Hansar Hotel Bangkok, one of the many hotels of the group, Paul warmly welcomed our team and got the interview geared-up in no time!

e-Global Travel Media: With the on-going economic conditions around the world, how is the year-to-year growth rate of SLH?

Paul Kerr: In between 1 January to 31 December 2013, we reported an increase of 8% in terms of room nights and 12% in terms of revenue which sums up to 369,152 booked room nights generating $134 million in revenue. Compared to the previous years our growth is quite low but looking at the current economy that is running flat, it’s really difficult to have high growth rate unless you have a very different product to present in the market. Anyhow, we’re quite content as we’re basically running on a very average rate compared to other hotels chains.

He chuckles and adds, “As long as the world’s population keeps increasing, we’ll still do right in business because tourism has space to grow and of course everybody loves to travel”

e-Global Travel Media: With the on-going political issues in Thailand, precisely in Bangkok, how is SLH coping up?

Paul Kerr: We’re a large chain, with over 500 hotels around the world! Our guest just switch to another destination, it doesn’t really affect us. We’re doing fine overall.

e-Global Travel Media: How many affiliates does SLH have currently? And what would be an ideal number that you’re looking for?

Paul Kerr: At the moment we have 540 hotels. There’s no such ideal number, but of course depending on different destinations, we see how many would fit in. However, there’s always room for more. For example in South America, we can have many more hotels as there many beautiful destinations. In China, we currently have only 20 hotels, so there’s room for lots more there! We’re slowly looking into where we can expand so our guests have a variety of destinations to choose from.

e-Global Travel Media: Currently, how many hotels do you have in Australia? Are there are future expansion plans?

Paul Kerr: Australia is an on-going focus area for SLH. At the moment, we’ve only got 6 hotels. There are possibilities for more in Melbourne that we are looking into. We’ve just got one in Perth not long ago, but definitely looking in for more to grow our profile in Australia.

e-Global Travel Media: We’ve heard a buzz about SLH launching private residences, can you please brief us on this?

Paul Kerr: Basically the private residences came about due to customer feedback. It was something we kept hearing from members saying they would like and also, a great number of our hotels also had in their own existing portfolio, suitable properties for private residences so the launch was fairly organic. This will be launched on slh.com in September and have residences ranging from a yacht in Morocco to a ski lodge in Switzerland, however we have already soft launched our first property!

e-Global Travel Media: What are the up-coming plans for SLH?

Paul Kerr: We’ve got our new website coming up very soon with many interactive features which will be very mobile friendly. We’re investing a lot in China as well, with a fully Chinese website coming up with a “cn” domain. We’re developing an android app both globally and for the China market.

In the hotels perspective, we will be having a number of new hotels joining our group.  Tokyo, Fiji, Budapest, Ibiza, Malta, Jamaica, Seychelles and Melbourne are some of our top unfulfilled searches on the website with Tokyo number one on slh.com where we have no hotels, there were 133 searches for this last year. We plan to continue to monitor customers’ unfulfilled searches and remedy this to ensure our customer can constantly benefit from our offering.

And not to forget, the top of the cake would be our 25th anniversary coming up next year where we have a big party planned for our hotels!

Written by: Kanchana Ganglani

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