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“The online presence of luxury brands is very important when it comes to telling stories” (Suzanne Godfrey, Head of Luxury Brand Management in Hospitality Specialization at Glion)

Glion marked the beginning of the new semester with an exclusive story to tell, as the magnificent Mandarin Oriental Geneva hosted Glion’s ‘The Art of Luxury Leadership’ conference. The event was entirely centered on the hidden aspects of the Luxury industry, with industry leaders giving a unique insight into how some of the iconic Luxury Brands work with technology. Needless to say that the audience was inspired and left with new ways they could use this essential tool to engage with customers and employees in a dynamic industry. Here are some highlights for you!

Reaching a worldwide audience

For the first time, the conference was transmitted live on all Glion social platforms, gaining a remarkable amount of views and shares. The interaction through social media was part of the new conference concept to engage and actively interact with followers.

The opening speech, by Georgette Davey, Managing Director at Glion Institute of Higher Education, introduced the topics of the evening, immediately followed by Amanda Kayne, panel moderator, who presented the first round of guest speakers. These included Lars Wagner, Stéphanie Gellerstad and Glion alumna Claudia Schwarze.

What is luxury? The Panel’s opinion

The panel began with a personal interpretation of the word ‘luxury’ “Luxury is about space and time” said Lars Wagner, before Stéphanie Gellerstad gave her view: “Luxury is all about uniqueness rather than being a product or an experience”. Glion alumna, Claudia Schwarze, finished by expressing the importance for a brand to find its own niche and be successful in that market. An important statement that immediately led to the first discussion of the evening: ‘The Inclusivity Paradox’, which had the aim to gather opinions on the question: “Should a brand target everyone?”. “As you cannot please everyone in luxury” continued Claudia Schwarze, “a brand needs to be authentic and unique in its own way”. An idea shared by the Mandarin Oriental General Manager, who stressed the value of providing a service form the heart, a service that is authentic, true and meaningful. The panel continued with a comment from Lars Wagner explaining that for each personal experience it is all about the emotional engagement.

Social media as a marketing tool

The next question brought in the topic of marketing through social platforms: “Instagram Influencers: YES or NO?”

Claudia Schwarze: “Personally I do not think influencers are important. Only a few of them have that kind of following able to influence your occupancy.”

Lars Wagner: “Influencers are very new to the industry and we are always careful about who we want to invite to represent our brand.”

Artificial intelligence in the hospitality industry

As the first panel came to an end, Dino Auciello took to the stand and introduced the digital trends in the luxury industry. The first examples that came to the audience’s mind were robots – are those extremely high-tech machines going to replace humans?

The digital marketing expert replied that robots are everywhere and the luxury and hospitality industry are just starting to experience them. The reality is that digitalization is driving the change and the challenge is to understand what is really going to generate a revenue on the long-term and what instead is only a short-lived trend. “Humans and robots will live side by side, so if you ask me where I see humans in the future of luxury, I see them everywhere”, replied Hanna Pace.

Dino Auciello highlighted how, recently, the first contact that a guest has with a brand is through social media, therefore, it is important for companies to understand with who they are dealing with.

Automation and Authenticity

The second panel followed with Hannah Pace, Suzanne Godfrey and Glion alumnus Stephen Alden who, lastly, replied to the digitalization trends noting that in hospitality “our service is based on turning the most beautiful experiences digital”, although “we might forget to remain authentic” continued Hannah Pace. “Trends may come and go and it is therefore important to keep creating places where people want to be, without, on the other side, disclosing everything online: guests like to discover certain things, things that they did not even know they wanted” concluded Stephen.

Selecting the future industry leaders

Stephen Alden shared with guests a word of advice: “When hiring for luxury, companies need to think about having a good cognitive balance in the team which you obtain by hiring different personalities, because at different moments in time, different people will be needed”.

A career in the luxury industry

Here is some invaluable career advice from the industry leaders:

Suzanne Godfrey: “Be curious, innovative and empathic.”

Stephen Alden: “It is important that the young talent actually interviews us, to know if we are the right match for them.”

Lars Wagner: “A smile goes a long way, no matter what position you are in.”

It’s a wrap!

After an exciting insight into the luxury industry, it was time for a delicious cocktail dinner, to network and get to know the industry leaders.

Glion students participating at the conference had the chance to connect and share their ideas with the panelists and also with media influencers attending the event.

And us, marketing ambassadors? Well, our challenge was to make you live the Luxury Conference in the best way possible! See you on the next Instagram Story!

Marta Miragoli, Glion Student Ambassador

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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