Global Interview Project | Jerome Stefanski, Managing Director of The Little Guest Hotels Collection
The Little Guest Hotels Collection is a unique collection that brings together the cream of city hotels and holiday hotels around the world designed to accommodate well-traveled families. The selected institutions are regularly audited by the team in charge and must meet stringent standards to greatly enhance the holidays of children aged from 0–12 years. Today it is my pleasure to report here my discussion with Jerome Stefanski, Managing Director of The Little Guest Hotels Collection.
Geoffrey Ravoire: What was the vision and mission you had creating The Little Guest Hotels Collection?
Jerome Stefanski: The Little Guest Hotels Collection is the first collection of luxury hotels dedicated to families. We promote extraordinary hotels for extraordinary families.
Our studies show that reaching family travelers is a key challenge for hotels to increase booking volumes. But over-promoting the family offering can affect other market segments (business, couples etc.). On another hand, for the families, we see that it is hard to identify the right hotel that combines a luxury approach with a qualitative children experience. Through The Little Guest Hotels Collection, we offer hotels the opportunity to promote family offerings with a targeted, qualitative, and user-friendly approach. For the families, it is now easy to find THE perfect destination that combines luxury hospitality and unique children’s activities.
Our mission: we offer parents the easiest way to book their family holidays, at the best price, through an inspiring user-friendly marketplace.
GR: What do you look for when researching a new destination, a new property to add to the collection?
JS: Our childcare specialist has defined 24 essential kids services, from emergency baby bottle to stroller loan, but also kids club and shuttle with a baby seat. To qualify for The Little Guest Hotels Collection, each institution must offer the majority of these 24 services AND luxury standards of quality.
GR: As a startup, how do you approach some of the most prestigious names and convince them to trust you?
JS: We hired skilled sales talents who have 10–15 years of experience in the luxury hospitality market. Through their personal contacts, we are able to directly reach General Managers and Sales and Marketing Managers of luxury hotels. We also attend international fairs such as ILTM or ITB to meet our clients and future partners.
We convince them by proving the efficiency of our business model and showing them the ROI we expect. This ROI is based on the web traffic we generate on our website and the average conversion rate we target.
GR: Can you tell us where your strongest markets are and where you see interest and future growth for The Little Guest Hotels Collection?
JS: Our strongest markets are the most attractive destinations for family travel: Western Europe, United Arab Emirates, South-East Asia, tropical destinations and the US. We now have 25 member hotels in Europe (city hotels and holiday resorts) and our next challenges are the US, the Middle East, Asia and tropical destinations.
Concerning our expansion, we plan to develop The Little Guest Academy, a unique training programme dedicated to hotel staff that will provide key advice to improve the stay of families.
GR: What are the most important values to your clients? How can you ensure that you meet and exceed them?
JS: We cherish values of family, excellence, service, elegance and inspiration. To be sure that each of our member hotels fulfills these values we visit each address and have to fill out a strict check list.
GR: According to you, what is your sector looking for in young graduates?
JS: I personally think that the industry needs resourceful young people who have a global vision of the sector and not only a local view of their own continent. Creativity is also very important to make the difference. “Think outside the box” is not just an abstract concept, it is a way to beat your competitors. Small things can make a great impression. For example, Ashford Castle, one our hotels located in Ireland provides a “Lego Butler Service”. Kids can choose their Lego boxes in an in-room menu and a few minutes later the butler delivers the toy on a silver plate. This service costs nothing to the hotel but is wonderful story-telling.
GR: What is the best professional advice you have ever been given?
JS: I would say: do what you love. It is the safest way to score and blossom.