Ted Teng – President The Leading Hotels of the World – on “rethinking” the group’s strategic plan

Ted Teng, for the past 8 years has been responsible for overseeing the activities and operations of the company’s 26 worldwide offices, which has more than 375 hotel members. We asked him to tell us how his ten year (2011-2020) Strategic Plan (Destination 2020) is evolving, and what it will bring to his members and in turn their customers and partners.

Since joining the company in 2008, I have been dedicated to reigniting the 88-year old brand. I have approached this with the motto, «Preserve, Enhance, and Invent.” We honour the traditions of the company and the fundamentals on which it was founded all those years ago by 35 independent hotels, while innovating to achieve greater strength and success in the future. Shortly after Destination 2020 was drafted, we realised that the plan was really a larger full (five) year business plan, as in it was a do more and do better plan. It was not going to transform the company for the future.

We decided to put the plan aside and began a process of Assess, Explore and Create. We are now in the final stages of this development. Through our work, we found that in order transform the business we had to alter how Leading Hotels operates including the following:


Winter Gstaad Palace, Switzerland – The Leading Hotels of the World 

  • From Product centric to customer centric
  • From B2B to B2C
  • From One sided market to two sided market
  • From Quality standards to Happy Guests
  • From Separate touch points to one single customer journey
  • From Groups of customers to individual customers
  • From Transactions to relationships
  • From Customer friendly to customer centric

What makes a Leading Hotel of the World stand out in the crowd? How does one qualify to join the organisation? 

How does an original artwork stand out in a world of “me too” copies? To the people who know the hotel, it just does. It is Remarkably Uncommon. That is what sets our member hotels apart. Our member hotels are independently owned and operated, enabling them to create and maintain their distinctive attributes and personalities. Nearly 87% of our member hotels are family-owned and operated, so there is a sense of multigenerational experience and depth of understanding of the local culture that is unparalleled. Many of our hoteliers  – and their families – have lived in their hotel’s destination for years – generations even – making them uniquely positioned to offer guests a truly local perspective and bringing a resident’s insight to their interactions with guests.


You recently released a major study on “Curious Travellers”. What were the aims of this survey, and what were the most interesting findings?

The Leading Hotels of the World conducted a third-party survey as a way to help us better understand and serve the “Curious Traveller,” an affluent individual who, above all else, values exploration and discovery.

 For the Curious Travellers, travel is not what they do; it really defines who they are. 83% of those surveyed said that travel is an essential part of their lives. Fuelled by curiosity, they embark on travels that become journeys of self-discovery and empowerment, through exploration and discovery of new destinations, experiences, cultures and people. They are also defined by their confident outlook. They are trendsetters and leaders among their peers when it comes to travel. We found that 78% of them are interested in exploring hidden gems, while only 32% are looking to find the hottest or trendiest spots. So they are not following what others have done or are doing. They are  the ones setting the pace and blazing the trails. Finally, they thrive on cultural immersion. They don’t journey to a destination so they can check it off a list. They are driven to involve themselves as locals would. They don’t simply consume a place and its culture; they seek to become part of it.


Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, Venice, Italy – The Leading Hotels of the World

There has been a trend for some time towards “genuine” experiences for travellers. Where is this trend going and how do LHW hotels fit in?

This may now be a trend, but it isn’t one for us. For Leading Hotels, this “trend” is what our hoteliers have always delivered. Manufactured experiences are novelties and may always be around. Our customers prefer real experiences – and always have. Ski dome in a desert is a novelty; Gstaad is the real thing. The Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macao is a novelty. The Bauer in Venice is the real thing. Main Street USA in Disneyland is a novelty. Stockbridge Main Street in Norman Rockwell’s Home for Christmas is the real thing and is near the Wheatleigh Hotel in Massachusetts.