Willem van Rossem: It’s about creating intangible, unique, meaningful and “instagrammable” experiences

When it comes to choosing a hotel for your holidays, it is no longer about what five-star services are on offer but rather seeking out intangible, unique, meaningful and “instagrammable” experiences; and retaining the right people – according to hotel industry expert Willem van Rossem.

Of Dutch nationality and a former hotelier – he has worked for Walt Disney, Dolce Hotels & Resorts and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts to name but a few – Willem van Rossem offered arguably one of the most interesting presentations at the 45th Cyprus Hotel Summit & Expo that was held at City of Dreams Mediterranean recently.

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Van Rossem, who is currently Manager Campus Barcelona & International Partnerships at Ferrières Hospitality & Luxury Management School, focused on the customer experience and the importance of retaining the right people in the hotel industry.

He started off by showing a set of five pictures that looked like they were of the same hotel, but informed the audience that they were actually of five different hotels in Barcelona. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon of trends, Willem van Rossem said, arguing that if all products and services are alike, people will choose the cheaper option.

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Quoting Maya Angelou: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” he asked attending hoteliers and stakeholders: “Are we really giving our guests an experience? Touching them in an individual way?”

He said this was some food for thought in taking the guest experience “to the next level”.

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Following the pandemic especially, people are now seeking out intangible, unique and meaningful experiences; finding instagrammable places, said van Rossem. It’s not only about having five stars he added. It’s about setting a hotel apart from its competitors and reaching guests in a special way.

“The market is shifting,” he pointed out, wrapping his presentation by stressing the importance of retaining the right people to offer these experiences - “hire right, train right, treat right” - and with a quote by Walt Disney: "You can design, create and build the most beautiful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality."

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