6 insights about hotels from Ivanka Trump
22 MAY 2015 7:37 AM
Ivanka Trump, executive VP of development for the Trump Hotel Collection, has gained innumerable insights as she works alongside her brothers and father to build a global chain.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—Passive isn’t part of the Trump DNA. Just ask Ivanka Trump, daughter of New-York-real-estate-magnate-turned-reality-TV-show-icon Donald Trump.
Among the many lessons she’s learned from her father: Owners should take an active role in the development process. It’s an approach she shares with her siblings, Donald Jr. and Eric, who along with the family patriarch run the Trump Hotel Collection.
With six properties open and several more in the pipeline around the globe, the family has gleaned a wealth of experiences and insights on the changing nature of high-end travel—several of which Ivanka shared during an on-stage interview at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai.
“Meticulous attention to detail” is the differentiator in the luxury space, Trump said.
“You can tell when a project is built by a passive owner, when somebody wasn’t actively engaged,” she said.
Details matter even more to millennials.
“To us, luxury is about attention to detail. It’s about experiential elements; it’s about that personal touch. The experience for us in some ways is paramount to the tangible. We’re all looking for the ‘Instagramable’ moment to share with our friends. Cultivating true personalized experience is incredibly important to that next generation of luxury travelers.”
Given the emergence of “affordable luxury” and “casual luxury,” is the word luxury even relevant anymore?
“I wish there was almost a different word for is since it’s been utilized so freely by people who don’t hold themselves to the highest standard,” Trump said. “(Real luxury) is being uncompromising in terms of the service you deliver and the physical asset you’re building.”
On the role of service
Hoteliers should never be complacent when it comes to service, Trump said. “You always have to be challenging assumptions of what things were done a certain way and why you can do them better and why you should go a step further.”
Service is often an offshoot of leadership. That’s why the role of GM is so important at the property level, she said.
Also important is constant reinforcement from the corporate entity.
“I work side by side with my two brothers and with my father. We’re in our properties all the time because you need to be. That’s the major point of differentiation,” Trump said.
That on-the-ground philosophy extends to the development process as well.
“You can’t build a great hotel if you’re not on the site. … If you’re not there minding the ship, there will be problems. A lot of people say that’s OK; 80% is OK because I’d prefer to build 100 hotels at once rather than get everything perfect. We can’t think like that,” she said.
On the culture context
Global entities must be sensitive to the needs of different travelers and cultures around the world, Trump said.
“There is this appreciation for cultural context that really didn’t exist 20 years ago,” she said. “Twenty years ago it was about standardization; everything had to be the same.”
Now being different is what matters. And not just different, but uniquely local, she said.
“Layering in context is something that’s incredibly important,” she said.
Design is increasingly important as travelers’ expectations reach higher and higher.
“There’s an expectation of projects being spectacular. Being spectacular is an important note of differentiation given the amount of competition in the market. Design is and has always been incredibly important,” Ivanka said.
How can hoteliers attract this growing traveling cohort?
“Technology will play a big role,” Ivanka said. “It’s increasingly important.”
Cultivating unique experiences matters to millennials, too, she added.