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INTERVIEW: Redefining Luxury and Culture in Hospitality

Eugenio Pirri, Chief People and Culture Officer at the Dorchester Collection on what does "luxury" mean today.

The hospitality industry has been abuzz with the growing need to redefine the notion of luxury to cater to an increasingly diverse clientele. Gone are the days when enjoying a luxurious experience meant indulgent in-room candlelight dinners and a rose petal-filled jacuzzi; today’s travelers seek authenticity and experiential travel.

Eugenio Pirri, Chief People & Culture Officer at the Dorchester Collection, emphasizes just that as he tells the Young Hoteliers Summit in an interview, that luxury has to be defined by the customer. Hoteliers often say that they are customer-focused. However, Pirri also highlights the need to take it a step further by helping customers both when they are at the hotel, but also when they are not at the hotel. The important thing, he explains, is understanding that customers are also loyal to other brands and companies in other industries, and being able to work with them to make your most high-value customers’ lives easier.

But above all, the first step to creating a memorable customer experience is to know why they are staying at your property. As Pirri says,

You can really define luxury by first engaging with them, finding out the true purpose of why they’re there. And then you develop luxury over the stay, and then it becomes a more lasting memory.

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Pirri also touches on the topic of diversity. Hospitality is a unique industry that employs individuals of diverse backgrounds, which poses a unique opportunity for hospitality managers. He therefore discusses the need to understand your workforce – knowing how to lead and grow your talent, and how to tap into their knowledge and experiences to better serve your customers and the vision of the company. “Diversity is never enough” – the key, he emphasizes, is to be "diverse but also inclusive – only by including everyone in the conversation will we be able to bring out the best in our workforce."

Hospitality often prides itself on being a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds, but have we really been using this diversity to its potential?

About the Young Hoteliers Summit

In 2010, five students from the EHL Lausanne founded a small committee with a big purpose: to bring together established professionals and aspiring leaders of the hospitality industry to share ideas and knowledge, and accelerate progress in the industry. Since then, YHS has worked hard to become recognized as the largest student-run summit in the world. Every year, YHS welcomes approximately 30 speakers, student delegates from over 40 of the world’s leading hospitality institutions, as well as members of the media and other external guests at the summit. Building on a different theme each year, YHS serves as a platform for interesting and insightful debates and discussions on the industry’s hottest topics.

For the 10th Edition of the Young Hoteliers Summit, the Employer Rankings Report explores - among other things - the career path motivations and workplace characteristics hospitality management graduates and professionals view as the most important. This year, over 1200 students completed the survey from 100 nationalities across 285 schools. We rounded-up key takeaways from the report.

Click below to download the 2019 YHS Employer Rankings


Kimberly Yoong
About the author
Kimberly Yoong is a student at the EHL Lausanne pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Hospitality Management. Since obtaining her Singapore-Cambridge “A” Level diploma, she has tried her hand at running a start-up non-profit organization, and has had experiences in the hospitality industry in various roles across different countries – namely USA, Japan, Singapore, and Switzerland.