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Leading Hotels of the World's CEO, Ted Teng

Leading Hotels of the World is a hospitality consortium with more than 375 hotels in over 75 countries. President & CEO, Ted Teng shares LHW’s innovative technique in getting to know the mind of the curious traveler, their hotel curation process and strategic partnerships.

The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) has built its name after catering its brand to the affluent traveler -one who values exploration and discovery. With 375 hotels in over 75 countries, how does LHW ensure each hotel within the collection offers a true, unique experience for the guests who have already “seen it all”?

Our hotels are primarily independently owned and operated, enabling them to create and maintain their distinctive attributes and personalities.  Rooted in the locations where they are found, they embody the essence of their destinations and they appeal to the curious traveler by offering varied styles of architecture and design, and immersive cultural experiences delivered by passionate people.

Our hotels and their teams are uniquely positioned to offer guests a truly local insider’s perspective.  Many of the employees of our hotels (and their families) have lived in their hotel’s destination for years – generations even – bringing a resident’s insight to their interactions with guests.  More than 80% of our member hotels are family-owned and operated, so there is a sense of multi-generational experience and depth of understanding of the local culture.

LHW has coined its key market group as the “Curious Traveler”, what can you tell us about this group? What kind of experiences are they looking for?

For the Curious Travelers, 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. Fueled 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.

Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa Retreat & Cultural Hideaway, Elmau Germany

Going further into the mind of the “Curious Traveler”, LHW has hit the nail on its head when creating experiences via the “road less traveled by”, how does LHW make sure it’s properties fit the needs of those who are looking for an escape that’s unlike any other?

More than 80% of our member hotels are family-owned and operated, there is a sense of experience and understanding of the local culture.

A hotel that wants to join LHW must be referred by an existing member, and it must apply for admission.  Obtaining the referral ensures that the hotelier of the prospective property is a like-minded peer of our hoteliers, and dedicated to delivering unique and authentic experiences to guests.  The admission process allows Leading Hotels management team and Executive Committee to, not only ascertain that the hotel meets our exacting standards of quality with respect to accommodations, service, cuisine, staff and facilities, but also that the hotel exhibits distinctive characteristics and demonstrates truly remarkably uncommon attributes.  We look again at who owns and operates the hotel, and what sets it apart in the market, its architecture, its history, and how it embodies the essence of its destination, among other traits.

What can you tell us about LHW’s recent collaboration with WayBlazer and their Cognitive Discovery Tool software? What does a strategic partnership like this mean for your clients?

While our guests especially enjoy researching and planning for their travels, these activities as we know can be especially time-consuming whether researching independently or with a travel advisor.  By using the Trip Discovery tool powered by Wayblazer, Leading Hotels can offer innovative solutions to clients by providing tailored recommendations based on specific needs.  This is enabling LHW to offer clients more relevance when planning a vacation through robust curation that can meet a variety of needs.

For example, a traveler can type in sentences describing what kind of hotel, destination, time of year, or amenities he or she is looking for, such as:
•    “Where are the best hotels in the Caribbean for my honeymoon in June”
•    “I want a kid-friendly hotel in Ireland with access to a great golf course”
•    “Best hotels with pools on the Amalfi Coast for a stay at the end of August”

Once the details are entered, the Trip Discovery tool delivers hotel results displayed in order of relevance with dynamic images bringing to the life the traveler’s search criteria. Travelers can browse and select a hotel to see additional images and contextual insights explaining why that particular option is a fit for the amenities or location they seek.  By having this functionality on our website, we are putting the power of exploration in the hands of clients so they can easily research and find hotels that meet their individual needs and desires.

Palais Coburg Residenz, Vienna

Through the LHW site, there are Destination Guides for almost every major city a traveler could think of. How do you make sure that these guides stay as authentic as your properties, and more importantly, what kind of activities can guests expect to find on these guides?

We are currently in the process of retooling the destinations guides, specifically to make them more relevant and valuable as sources of pertinent insider information.  Based on resources at – and available through – our member hotels, we are developing new content to offer guests different perspectives on specific destinations and what activities and experiences they can look forward to enjoying while staying at our hotels.

Now, as President & CEO of LHW you must be quite the curious traveler yourself. Where’s your favorite hidden gem, or off the beaten path destination?

It’s impossible to pick just one hidden gem among our collection, but there are several that I believe are absolutely worth going the distance to reach.

Just a half hour from Cannes, Terre Blanche has all the beauty of Provence, yet feels a world away from the glitz of the Riviera. Less than 75 miles south of Munich, at Schloss Elmau you have the peace and quiet of the Bavarian Alps, but with world-class music, and sports options.  A side trip from either Zurich or Milan, at The Chedi Andermatt you can have a Swiss Alpine experience with a slightly Asian twist, while only an hour from Hangzhou International Airport, at Fuchun Resort you find yourself in the midst of a hillside tea plantation. Not far from Rome, Il Pellicano on the Argentario coast gives you an unexpected take on Tuscany; and even though Patagonia may seem like the end of the earth, Llao Llao Hotel & Resort is just a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires. Getting to any one of these hotels takes just a bit more effort, but the rewards once you get there more than make up for it.

D-Hotel Maris, Mugla, Turkey
D-Hotel Maris

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