This week, Travel Daily goes Face-to-Face with Grant Healy, co-founder & CEO of the Louis T Collection…
Q) Louis T Collection acquired its first Asian resort in 2015, Mantra Samui. How has the hotel changed since you took the reins?
When we took over the hotel we prioritised back-of-house changes. We appointed a young, unconventional general manager, Akira Park, to lead the team in some unconventional ways. We set up new processes and systems, as well as upgraded the offices and employee areas. We believe that in order to exceed guest expectations you need to first exceed employee expectations, and so that’s what we did first at the hotel.
Another big part of what we initially did was establish a strategic partnership with Frontdesk Anywhere (FDA), a cloud-based hotel management platform that covers everything from front desk operations to online distribution.
While we were putting these behind-the-scenes changes into play we also conducted a full-scale review of the property, appointing a permanent director of project services to lead the renovation and other Louis T building projects.
Our original plan was to keep the hotel open during the upgrade but, given that we want to make some bold changes, we’ve decided to close the property for around 16 weeks, from 20 April to late August. During this time we’ll completely redo all the guest rooms, along with the spa and fitness facilities, and the lobby and grounds. For this project we’re working with TIERRA Design, a Thai-based firm with 25 years of industry experience, along with Habros Design led by Arden Lee. Lee has been involved in a number of internationally acclaimed hotel projects from Shanghai to New York.
This will be our first round of renovations on the property but we also have plans to continue to improve the resort–all in an effort to meet and exceed future guests’ expectations.
Q) What services do you provide to hotels that are different from other hotel management companies?
I think what makes us different is that we are boutique and nimble enough to have the ability to cater our services to the ambitions and objectives of each individual hotel, ranging from providing a cost-effective digital strategy to technical and building solutions, all the way up to fully managing the property. Our services are completely tailored to each property, as we understand that a one-size-fits-all approach is not ideal for independent hotel operators.
Another reason behind this tailored approach is that we want hotels to keep their individuality, whilst arming them with the tools they need to remain competitive.
Last but not least, we have a huge pool of hospitality resources to draw from, in terms of hardware and software for hotels. Given that we are part of The Getz Group of Companies we have synergy with our partners like William Montague, a proven player in hotel guest room furnishings. And take Mantra Samui Resort as an example, many of the raw materials for the renovation are being sourced through our company’s namesake Louis T. Leonowens Ltd, which is still in business over a century since Leonowens started it in 1905. This also falls under The Getz Group umbrella.
Q) You also recently signed a series of technology solutions for PMS and revenue management systems; how are these helping to improve performance at hotels?
Many smaller hotels may not have the time and resources to research, invest in, and maintain these types of systems so we’ve done that for them. We have alliances with some of the best cloud-based solutions on the market, starting with Frontdesk Anywhere. The company is based out of San Francisco, one of the innovation capitals of the world and from there they are building a cloud-based ecosystem of partners around their platform. It’s invigorating spending time in Silicon Valley and watching the future take shape. The reality is the days of the capital intensive legacy systems are numbered and the move to the cloud with hoteliers bringing their business online is inevitable.
More than just doing the research though we’ve tested it first hand at Mantra Samui Resort and customised the platform for what we offer. We’ve seen a 40% year-on-year growth in RevPAR already which is only the beginning.
Our China team is also working with a leading digital marketing firm out of Paris to provide some selected independent hotels greater access to the booming Chinese travel market through tailored marketing services.
Q) You also have significant expansion plans in the coming years; can you tell us about them?
We have a number of boutique hotels in the pipeline to join the Louis T Collection, all of which are quite different. While the details are still being finalised, I can say these hotels are in Paris, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Phuket, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
Q) Which regional markets hold the most potential for Louis T Collection?
We have strong ties to the Asia Pacific region so that’s where we’ve been focusing. I’m based out of Hong Kong and my co-founder Adam Simkins works out of Singapore. We have an office in Shanghai and Bangkok as well. Both Adam and I have a lot of experience in this part of the world, having worked in the hotel industry in most of the countries in Asia. We also chose to purchase our first property in Thailand, given our namesake Louis Thomas Leonowens’ strong connection to the country.
There are so many worthy, interesting, independent hotels, each with its own story. We want to help share those stories through the Collection.