Jane Renton, general manager at the Jumeirah Lowndes hotel in London and Master Innholder, says creativity can help hotels beat the recession without hitting the bottom line
Despite the recession, the Big Smoke continues to be one of the world's leading cultural centres and its influence in entertainment, media, fashion and the arts contributes to its status as a major global city. Expectations for the capital's hospitality industry to match this level are, therefore, incredibly high, and competition within the "London set" is fierce.
While some may opt for price-led initiatives in order to stand out and be noticed, I would warn that this is not always the most viable option for long-term results. In my opinion, innovation and creativity are key in ensuring continued success.
Innovation can start simply by looking at things from a different perspective. As the Jumeirah Lowndes is a boutique property in London, space is at a premium, but we've used the intimate atmosphere to our advantage.
One of the newest initiatives is the bespoke master class. From cocktail mixing to chocolate making, classes are tailored to suit various audiences, such as hen and stag groups and office teams.
Cost restrictions can sometimes limit innovation, so making the best of what you have available is vital. For example, in hotels, meeting rooms are often underpromoted. However, creative packages can help attract new audiences, themed private dining, for example.
Innovation enables you to reach out to your various target markets with tailored offerings. As a boutique hotel within a global brand, our local residents are as important as overseas guests, and both need to be catered for. Initiatives such as our "chocolate-themed brunch" and "minibar happy hour" add an element of fun for guests.
We are extending alfresco with the opening of the Terrace and hope that this will appeal to local customers, both old and new. Covered outdoor dining, a barbecue menu of fish, meat and healthy salads and, most importantly, great value for money, have all been introduced with summer in mind.
Our brand essence is "Stay different", which promises guests experiences that are different from hotel to hotel and stresses that no two guests are the same, celebrating individuality.
Perhaps now, more than ever, it is vital that this remains at the top of the agenda when planning for the future.