The Dorchester is one of London’s most famous hotels and at the height of luxury. But what does a stalwart do when the newbies come by and how did Bond help? Travel Daily speaks to the hotel’s general manager, who is also regional director UK for the Dorchester Collection.
What has business been like at The Dorchester so far this year? How has it compared to last year when the Olympics were in town?
Last year was an exceptionally strong year for us with travellers visiting London for the Olympics, particularly with strong support from the US. Business in 2013 is good but slightly softer in comparison to 2012.
What are your top source markets for guests? Which markets are seeing the most growth?
The UK, USA, and the rest of Europe continue to be our biggest source markets and we have seen steady growth from the Chinese and South American markets as well.
We are delighted to host guests from these emerging markets and ensure that we have multi-lingual staff and tailored amenities to give them the warmest possible welcome to The Dorchester.
London is still the party venue of Europe for shopping, exhibitions, and nightlife and leisure travel is strong.
Have you spotted any noticeable trends this year in booking patterns, length of stay or the type of guest staying at the hotel?
Ease of travel and communications mean that travel plans change with a moment’s notice these days, lead times for bookings are increasingly shorter.
Several times this year we have grown by 30% occupancy for the month, during the month. Social events can be sprung on us with just a few hours to arrange, so we have honed the art of flexible party planning.
Guests from one of our strongest markets – the US – are staying longer than before.
One pattern that bucks the trend, is that although guests spend a while browsing our website, more than 80% of actual transactions are done direct with our reservations department.
Luxury hotels are opening up all over London. Has The Dorchester had to adapt itself to compete and if so, how?
Dorchester Collection has been part of this development – we opened a new hotel, 45 Park Lane, in September 2011. It offers the perfect complement to The Dorchester in style and ambience. If a visitor prefers an international contemporary style rather than the classic British style of The Dorchester, we meet this desire with 45 Park Lane.
Continuously renovating and innovating is also at the forefront of our strategy at The Dorchester. Our guests expect only the best. In recent years we have introduced the UK’s only three Michelin starred hotel restaurant (Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester); expanded and renovated our spa; restored our ballroom and renovated over half of our rooms and suites inventory with the final half to complete next year.
What are the most recent developments at the hotel? Have any rooms or areas been through a revamp, or you might have some new amenities or packages?
Most recently during 2012 The Dorchester unveiled 22 new Dorchester and Park suites by interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud, and by 2015, we aim to have each room of the hotel completely refurbished.
In September The Dorchester entered literary history with the release of international bestselling author William Boyd’s new Bond novel ‘Solo’ commissioned by the Ian Fleming Estate. The book opens with Bond enjoying a birthday breakfast following a night’s stay at The Dorchester – it’s a great read. Boyd said he chose The Dorchester for James Bond to stay in because the hotel is, “the elite hotel — the choice of film stars and show business legends — and so it seemed fitting that when Bond wanted to give himself a special birthday treat he would book himself a room at The Dorchester.” Featuring as the hotel of choice for James Bond was a tremendous honour and truly cemented The Dorchester’s iconic British status this year.
We also offer a Town and Country package across all three of our UK hotels – as well as iconic British classic The Dorchester and contemporary Mayfair alternative 45 Park Lane, we offer luxury country house hotel and spa Coworth Park in Berkshire. Guests can stay at all three, or head out on day trips to the country, and bills can be cross signed to their accommodation for ease.
The group recently took on a new sales team. Does the travel trade feature in your sales strategy and how do you engage with them?
We try and speak to our travel trade contacts as often as possible to ensure we are delivering exactly what they need. Our focus is on open communication to ensure we help them deliver their clients expectations. By growing our team we are better positioned to anticipate the industries changing needs, and respond with speed and accuracy.