Towards sharing the art of living and the protection of cultures and cuisine around the world.

Part of the DNA of Relais & Châteaux is that of underscoring the need for unique, personal experiences. We asked Jean-François Ferret how this concept is evolving.

Jean-François Ferret CEO Relais & Châteaux

Jean-François Ferret CEO Relais & Châteaux

The clients are increasingly seeking experiences and that’s why we have a bespoke and customised experience at all of our destinations. Everything relates to the experience, and also to the story-telling. All our properties have a story to tell, which is why it’s important for the clients to be in contact not only with the property, but also with the chef, the innkeeper, the staff, and with the story of the property. Indeed, the concept of experiences is truly at the heart of a stay in a Relais & Châteaux hotel. Let me give the example of one of our properties in Japan. The Asaba has been in the same family for 500 years. You can imagine the pressure on the innkeeper and his family who represent countless generations of owners and people dedicated to the clients. These people cannot fail in welcoming the guests. They are creating a full experience around the property that is really worth seeing, and this is what we try to provide in all our Relais & Châteaux. There’s not always a 500-year history, but it’s something that is special that you feel either through the location or through the people working at the property.

Relais & Châteaux’s major thrust – above all else at the moment, appears to be that of helping in making the world a better place. How is this philosophy being implemented?

Absolutely, this philosophy of making the world a better place through hospitality and cuisine was first presented at the UNESCO meeting in Paris at 2014. This new vision is not a target we are trying to invent for our properties; this is something we are already doing, which is why we are very comfortable in making this vision “official”, because we can prove that our properties are working towards it.


What’s new this year in terms of marketing campaigns and/or concepts?

Following the launch of the vision in 2014 in Paris, we have been reworking our brand identity. We have written a new ambition, we have written new values, and in the following months we will develop a new identity with new signatures. What I can share with you is some detail about our new identity, as well as our new values. They are of course in line with our former ambitions and values, but we would like to express them in a more modern way and engaged way. Our ambition is to be more than a simple “label”, or association of members. We are fighting for the ethic of sharing the art of living – the savoir-faire – and the protection of cultures and cuisine everywhere in the world. In addition to our campaign for the “tastes of the world”, we are focusing on “humanism”. We would like to show that our properties are respecting the people and the cultures everywhere in the world. So the word “humanism” is very important to us. The third value we want to underline is that of sharing. We share the family spirit and also want to share our passion, sharing with the team, and sharing with the clients. The fourth value I would like to point out, which is very important and strong, is engagement, or commitment. Relais & Châteaux aims to bring richness and added-value to the history of hospitality everywhere in the world. These are the new values that we are implementing across our network.

Asaba, Boutique Hotel in Izu-shi village, Shizuoka-Ken, Japan

Asaba, Boutique Hotel in Izu-shi village, Shizuoka-Ken, Japan

How important is your relationship with tour operators and travel agents?

It’s a very important and valuable relationship. The more upper scale the client is, the more he or she relies on travel agents. We believe firmly and truly in the added value of travel agents. Around 30% of our sales are made through TAs and TOs. But if we focus on the R&C channels – driving business under the brand – it’s more than 50%. Around the globe, we have 12 people whose sole job is to visit the travel agents and explain the values and experiences of the brands. We are providing special services to the travel agents, such as concierge, itineraries, and soon – in the next months – special access to a dedicated section of our website where they will find specific information important to them, and we have also developed preferred partner programmes that enable the travel agents to have some special advantages or conditions, like VIP welcome or free breakfast.