Hospitality will be healthier when it comes to food and beverage offerings. They will need to encourage guests to have a more active role in wellness activities. This is a generation that cares and is conscious of their health and how to improve it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Rafael Museri of Selina.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Overall, it’s the story of me falling in love with travel. I’ve traveled from big cities to off the grid locations and it ignited this passion in me to want to know more about different cultures and experiences and wanting to know how to make more people know and experience this is what brought me to this path.
I also came to recognize that the best experiences in my life were not related to money or material things but with unique moments and unique spaces and is usually connected with simplicity.
Traveling the world is incredible and the best experiences are the simple ones, which is what brought me to this specific career path.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The decision to live in a fisherman village in Panama and being part of this group of people with the passion to develop an amazing international community there. Moving to live in this town for 5 years and connecting with the local community there is the most interesting story and how I connect this part of my life for what later became Selina.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if this is funny, but I tried to be a developer and deal with construction and I failed. It’s the biggest lesson learned, but it’s what lead to us turning the Selina model into converting existing hotels versus building completely new structures. For me to think that I tried, is an accomplishment in itself.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Seina is the place to connect and to meet people, not just a place to sleep. While we put time and effort into customer service and hospitality for our guests, we strongly focus on developing strong offline content and programming around it to give our guests full experiences. We aren’t just focusing getting people to sleep in our rooms but to consume our content and programming and that’s what makes Selina unique.
There are other hospitality brands in the market that only offer a place to sleep with no interaction of other human beings. If we go deeper, Selina is making people more comfortable when they travel. Every time they step into Selina they can feel comfortable not only with the space but with who they are.
When we opened the first Selina, none of us understood anything about hospitality or worked previously in the industry. However, we built the first Selina around the experience, the events, the content and the community and because of that it has become the coolest place in the country — the fun place to be. As we’ve continued to grow, we realized that we were good at hospitality through building content and when we did, it lead us to understand that content is key.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?
My tip would be that you need to be the customer of your own product. If you really love what you do and you keep it real and fun, your work becomes your life and your life becomes your work.
Entrepreneurs and CEO’s need to dedicate all of their time to these projects — if in your free time you are not enjoying your own product you need to create two separate lives: personal and work life.
The challenge is that when that moment comes that you need free time or to disconnect and find a way to be a customer of your own product, that’s when it’s truly amazing. But of course, at the same time, you need to keep dreaming and exploring places around the world and think a lot outside the box to continue to expand your business. I connect my passion of exploring new places and learning new cultures with my job at Selina.
In May I plan to cross Marruecos — that’s a top destination for 2021. I know I will have an amazing time but at the same time will be exposed to new culture and new, beautiful spaces that will eventually have a Selina presence.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m grateful for Daniel Rudasevski, co-founder and Business Development Real Estate Officer of Selina. He’s my 50/50 partner and built it with me since day 1. Daniel and I are sharing challenges, the good things and the lessons learned.
The story is that Daniel and I met by coincidence on a beach in Costa Rica. We both enjoy the nature and the lifestyle of a remote and amazing experience. Our connection was through experience and fun and basically both us looking for the same place with different backgrounds and just happened to be at the same place at the same time. That’s how the business was born, it wasn’t born on the “let’s do business together” but around friendship and shared principles.
Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?
One of the most innovative things we did was to bring professional Coworking spaces into our Selinas. That allowed freelancers, corporate employees and digital nomads to travel and maintain a high level of work in our spaces. The reality is that people need to work, even if people think that when they go off the grid they are going to stop working the truth is that they will keep checking their phone, answering their emails and staying connected to what they do.
This applies more to people that want to travel for more time, let’s say 4–5 months they have to be able to maintain a productive and professional work time. The second is that Selina is not just staying at these prime locations in top cities around the world, but at the same time, we are going to surprise our customers with off the grid and remote locations challenging them to have a different experience.
Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?
For those who want to travel longer and maintain a high level of work, they can find low-cost or high-cost accommodations with professional co-workings and you can add experiences and wellness factors too. Soon, people will be able to pay a monthly fee and they will be able to choose any location in the world to stay for as long as they want. Our customers want flexibility and to travel longer to experience more. We serve them by offering co-working spaces and locations all around the world so they will have more to choose from.
How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?
The world will need to change their mindset to be able to evolve and adapt to the new generations. You will see new technologies around the hospitality business — this will also change how we usually approach vacation or even how we negotiate a contract to work at a new company. It’s what’s coming and we’re already seeing the beginning.
Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?
1. One big thing is that hospitality companies will need to allow full flexibility to their guests to cancel, change and move to other places.
2. Hospitality companies will turn to become more lifestyle and content-oriented.
3. Hospitality will be healthier when it comes to food and beverage offerings. They will need to encourage guests to have a more active role in wellness activities. This is a generation that cares and is conscious of their health and how to improve it.
4. Technology for hospitality will need to be two or three clicks away. Customers will need to book everything in less than a minute, if not they will go to other platforms that will fill this need.
You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?
My perfect experience is always to not plan, to allow the instinct of the traveler guide the trip. When you are having fun, you want to stay somewhere longer. When you don’t you want to change the vibe and move to another place. Get to know the community, go to places locals recommend and really immerse yourself in that place. That’s truly giving you the opportunity to learn through experiences.
Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We built a program call “Selina Gives Back” which is our social responsibility strategy. We are using the Selina spaces, employees and the Selina Academy, an academy that we created to train our teams, to teach unemployed people in the community and find them a job within the community or in some cases at Selina. Selina opens spaces all around the world and we are using them to positively impact the communities we’re arriving in.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would look to create the biggest travel university in the world by traveling the world in 3 or 4 years learning cultures and making friends. The world will appreciate friendships, culture learning, visiting new spaces and experiences. It would be one of the biggest things that I do plan in the future to try and fulfill through the education platform in Selina.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook and Instagram: Rafimuseri
Linkedin: Rafael Museri
Thank you for all of these great insights!