Laurence Onfroy – CEO & Founder of TemptingPlaces, the World’s Most Unique Boutique Hotels talks about her group’s mission and objectives
We put the obvious question to Laurence Onfroy… “Just what is your brand all about?”
We’re a soft brand for boutique hotels that have been conceived and made by visionary owners with an aim of transforming the hospitality industry. They’re a new generation of hoteliers. Before, there were those who were into “traditional luxury”, with high- class service and gastronomy and so on. But the new generation is more concerned with “experiential” or “immersive” travel, and there was a gap in the market.
There was no brand to help them to leverage their image, to gain visibility and structure themselves. So, with 140 hotels in 34 countries, we’re really a community of independent hoteliers, and we’re growing year after year. But we try also to retain a human dimension.
When I started the company, I had a vision to structure this market, because the independent hospitality sector is very fragmented. So our mission is both to structure and clarify the market. Our partners now rely on our selection and standards to reference our hotels worldwide. I launched TemptingPlaces in 2010, and last year, we opened an Asia Paci c regional office in Malaysia.
We saw that some very few of your hotels are also part of other groupings. What extra
value do you add to the market?
Actually, we cater to another segment. While we have some hotels that have dual affiliation, there are very few. What makes us different is that we were born digital, and we’ve just released a printed guide. The other brands were born with printed guides, and they are transforming themselves with the arrival of digital, which is very dif cult as they already had a strong inertia in the direction they had been taking, because they are very big, so it’s not easy to face all those changes. As we are in the digital world, we bring our hoteliers another way to structure their sales and marketing aligned with a digital approach, giving them access to technology.
What are the selection criteria?
Important factors include size – they should have less than 100 rooms, and we audit the hotels for a broad number of criteria. Our team goes to the property, meets with the owner, and sees if there is an interest for them to join, because we want to build on the value creation we can bring to the hoteliers. Another factor is that of technology, where we are building on ideas to help hoteliers create points of differentiation and Return on Investment in this respect.
AS WE ARE IN THE DIGITAL WORLD, WE BRING OUR HOTELIERS ANOTHER WAY TO STRUCTURE THEIR SALES AND MARKETING ALIGNED WITH A DIGITAL APPROACH, GIVING THEM ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY
Do you have an example of what you could term a “perfect example” of a “tempting place”?
Yes. There’s the Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge in the centre of Sri Lanka. It’s a “must see” if you are in Sri Lanka. It is unique in that the traveller sleeps in a luxury tent perched upon a hilltop, facing the green valley and the distant knuckle mountains. The 360° view over the beautiful natural surroundings from your room is a highly emotional experience, just like waking in the morning and finding you are in the clouds. The cuisine is local and authentic, with a hint of French savoir-faire in the service. Evenings are spent reside with jazzy music sipping cocktails.
In France, there is Château Pape Clément, which belongs to Bernard Magrez. It’s a property in the middle of the vineyards, made unique by the fact that it’s Mr Magrez’s home. Each room has its own decoration with artworks from famous artists. Afterwards you cannot drink anything but Château Pape Clément, because you have experienced it.
How does your relationship work with travel advisors?
It’s so important, because it is often difficult to identify great independent hotels that are very much sought after by their clients. So we help them by clarifying the market, and gaining the loyalty of their customers. We give them training, bring the hoteliers to visit them, and the hotels provide extra VIP advantages for their customers. Just recently we organised an event in Paris where 14 hotels were present, and we invited travel advisors to come and meet them. We also provide them with a programme, which includes a dedicated portal through which they can book directly with net rates and advantages, and extensive descriptions of the hotels, with articles and a lifestyle magazine that serves to inspire them when dealing with the end customers