We are pleased to announce that Glion’s Innovation in Luxury Conference was a tremendous success. On the morning of Wednesday, September 21, 2016, the Marriott auditorium was filled to capacity with attendees, including keynote speakers and panelists from leading luxury brands, Glion’s luxury industry partners, alumni, and GIHE students and faculty.

Guy Bentley, CEO of Glion Worldwide, set the stage by sharing the objectives for Glion’s Luxury Conference Series, of which the first event, “Inside the Future of Luxury”, was held in Glion London in February. “Most recently, manufacturers of luxury goods in fashion, watches and jewelry have recognized that our students have a hospitality skill-set of building excellent customer relations, paired with a strong business sense, and that these qualities could positively impact their bottom line. This has led us to develop a dedicated bachelor degree specialization in Luxury Brand Management to hone students’ skills for this specific sector, in addition to a classic hospitality business education.

Through conferences, events and workshops, we want to offer a platform for industry leaders of both the luxury hospitality and luxury goods sectors to exchange with academics, and former and current students, to discuss the convergence of these areas and their needs for specialized talent,” he said.

Christian BlanckaertForget about luxury trends! – Key-note speech by Christian Blanckaert

Our first keynote speaker was Mr. Christian Blanckaert, former CEO of Hermès Sellier and EVP Hermès International and former President of Comité Colbert France. Mr. Blanckaert spoke about the monarchy mindset in traditional luxury brands that is stifling innovation. He emphasized that brands should “forget about luxury trends” for marketing purposes. He also pointed out that luxury items are no longer purchased “to be seen”, they are bought “to be shared” as an experience on social media.

The challenge: to create the right conditions in luxury companies – less strict hierarchy, less management control – to allow for creativity in products and innovation in service, before anything else.


Panel 1 – Innovation in the luxury hospitality sector

Panelists discuss impact of luxury trends

In this photo: (right to left) Moderator: Paul Chappel, Applied Learning Manager, Glion; Panelists: Laurent Branover, General Manager, La Réserve Geneva ; Lindsay Davis, Global Franchise Director, Quintessentially; Ronald Homsy, Co-founder/CEO, Utopian Hotel Collection ; Bernadette Koltai, VP Luxury Hotels Group; Pia Stassen, VP Corporate Rooms Division, Kempinski Hotels.

Here are some of the key insights from this panel discussion:

  • Phraseology:Train staff to use the right language and new vocabulary to inspire clients from different cultures.
  • Be consistent across locations and channels: Guarantee high standards in hiring, training and company culture and use the right tools like CRM, apps and marketing platforms.
  • Technology is good and bad: Technology should be invisible, and feel natural. Avoid overly-intrusive use of data. People change habits constantly, data has to be fresh.
  • Video and new technology: Hospitality brands should use video, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality tools to show added value and promote unique experiences.
  • Technology in hotel design: Put the user experience first, not the technology. Pilot it, try it before guests do, it must be seamless and enjoyable.

Panel 2 – Redefining the luxury experience

Panelists: Stéphane Von Bueren, International Business Director, Christie’s; Marc-Andre Heller, Country General Manager, L’Oréal Switzerland; Roger Lay, Digital Marketing Lead, Deloitte Switzerland; Vincent Perriard, Co-founder & Board Member, HYT Watches; Marco Magetti, Head of New Product Innovation and Design, Nestlé Nespresso.

Here are some of the key insights from this panel discussion:

  • Historical brands on digital platforms: Adapt the traditional format for new products and channels to increase sales. Go multi-channel on top of the core business.
  • Digital discovery moments: Find the point between where people discover a product and where they buy it, and bring your product to that digital space. It can be an app, social media reviews, and the influencers (like bloggers) are even bigger than celebrities.
  • Relax the dress code: Luxury stores are all the same and staff uniforms look like they came from WWII. To create a more lively environment, let staff express individuality, show their flair.
  • Luxury consumers want to engage, not listen: Their device is with them all the time, its personal, they are social and socially engaged. Storytelling can easily become “story-yelling” if the consumer is not engaged.
  • Challenge everything: distribution, hiring, people, experience. It’s not about internet, digital, that’s just one tool. Take a step back and look at the big picture.
  • Big brands are the history: Nobody cares about legacy today. Think about your business, think about what you bring, what you create that is new.
  • Breed innovation: Luxury brands used to start with innovation and build a legacy, now they have a legacy and can’t innovate. Be counterintuitive: If you’re a leader, act as a challenger, if you’re a challenger, act as a start-upper.

Three keys: passion, nature, fun

Our final key-note speaker was innovator and entrepreneur Fabrice Leclerc. He summarized the discussions and themes in his closing speech by encouraging brand leaders to put passion first, to not lose touch with the “peasants” and natural elements, to follow our senses, and to focus on the fun and playfulness of creation. Innovation in the 21st century is not about “what can I make to sell to you” it’s about “what can I do for you.”

Resources & Links

Visit the Innovation in Luxury Conference event page for speaker profiles, program and contacts.

See the videos from the last conference: Inside the future of Luxury at Glion London.

Contact: Alexia Lepage, Senior International PR Manager:

Coming soon: Video footage of our exclusive interviews with Bernadette Koltai, Roger Lay, and Christian Blanckaert. Sign-up for the newsletter to stay informed.

Glion Luxury Brand Management Specialization

Discover the Luxury Brand Management degree specialization.

Take the next step

Do you have a specific query you would like to ask us? Please fill in the contact form below and let us know the nature of your
enquiry, and a member of our team will respond to you as soon as possible.

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.
View all posts