Q&A With Martin Rinck Executive Vice President and Global Head of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands for Hilton

Martin Rinck is Executive Vice President and Global Head of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands for Hilton, he has more than 30 years experience in the hospitality industry and knows a thing or two about global brands in the luxury sector. Read our interview with him to find out more about building brands and what the future trends for the luxury sector could be.

Firstly, tell us about Hilton’s luxury and lifestyle brands?

Hilton’s luxury brands, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and Conrad Hotels & Resorts, make up nearly 65 properties in more than 30 countries around the world and growing.

Our global portfolio of nearly 30 iconic Waldorf Astoria properties all create a unique sense of place with a relentless commitment to personal service and culinary expertise in landmark locations around the world. Whether it is at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, the Waldorf Astoria Chengdu, or the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, guests can enjoy truly unforgettable experiences at our properties all over the world.

Additionally, with more than with 35 properties in 21 countries, Conrad Hotels & Resorts have created a seamless connection between contemporary design, leading innovation and curated art to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of the globally connected traveller. Conrad’s Seamless Service is natural, anticipatory and enhanced by innovation. Guests can use Conrad as home base in destinations like Bora Bora, Tokyo, Dublin, Algarve, Cartagena, New York and Chicago – just to name a few.

Canopy by Hilton is our lifestyle brand. The brand goes back to the basics of hospitality: offering guests simple service at their pace, local choices that make sense and comfortable spaces that invite guests to stretch out and make themselves at home. Canopy by Hilton appeals to any traveller seeking a locally-inspired experience. One of Hilton’s newest brands, Canopy properties can be found in Iceland, Washington DC, Maryland and will be in Texas, Oregon, Georgia, Croatia and China by year’s end. This rapidly growing brand has nearly 30 properties in the pipeline or in various stages of development.

What is your background and how did you come to be Executive Vice President and Global Head of Luxury and Lifestyle brands for Hilton?

With more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, I have enjoyed the opportunity to hold a variety of diverse positions within the sector and around the world. Prior to joining Hilton in 2008, I oversaw the Asia Pacific region as President and Managing director of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group; however, I started my career with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as the Executive Vice President and Chief development officer for EMEA. In this role, I focused on driving unit growth for the company’s portfolio and the public listing of the company at the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Before Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, I spent my time as CEO for Mövenpick Gastronomy International in Switzerland, as well as at InterContinental Hotels Group in Europe and the United States, and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Indonesia.

I came to lead our Luxury & Lifestyle business after spending nine years as the area president of Asia Pacific for Hilton. In my previous role, I oversaw the growth from a portfolio of nearly 90 Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Hotels & Resorts under development and in the pipeline in 2008 to more than 600 properties upon my departure, including the successful launch of Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Doubletree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton in Asia Pacific.

How are Hilton’s luxury brands positioning themselves in the market?

Our luxury brands are positioning themselves as leaders in the market by continually investing the time and resources to truly understand guest preferences and what drives them, delivering personalized, intuitive service and providing unforgettable experiences that can only be found at Waldorf Astoria or Conrad properties.

What are the unique selling points of the Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands?

Our luxury brands are united by Hilton’s mission to be the world’s most hospitable company – by positively impacting our Guests, Team Members, Owners and Communities. Our luxury brands in particular, share a relentless commitment to providing a natural and anticipatory service, having an unwavering attention to detail and delivering memorable experiences for each guest, every time.

From Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills to Waldorf Astoria Chengdu, our global portfolio is differentiated by the unique sense of place that is created at all of our iconic Waldorf Astoria locations. Credited with reinvigorating the Eggs Benedict and inventing the Red Velvet Cupcake, culinary expertise also continues to be a key component of the Waldorf Astoria brand. Today, some of the most celebrated and internationally-recognized Michelin star chefs lead the culinary innovation at our properties.

Our Conrad brand is particularly ambitious when it comes to design and innovation, creating an environment that seamlessly combines contemporary style and the entrepreneurial spirit of the globally connected traveller.

How important is the Hilton umbrella to building the brands?

The Hilton portfolio of 14 world-class brands is comprised of more than 5,300 properties with more than 863,000 rooms, in 106 countries and territories. Additionally, our network of more than 71 million Hilton Honors members allows us to create meaningful, direct relationships with our guests. This scale and global reach not only allows us to offer a hospitality option for any guest, anywhere in the world, it allows us to tap into unique customer insights and to create industry-leading innovations across the enterprise that benefit our luxury brands.

How do you deliver personalised experiences to today’s luxury travellers?

Delivering personalized experiences comes with creating a culture that is grounded in service. At Waldorf Astoria, guests experience our True Waldorf Service – our graceful service which includes Personal Concierges who deliver bespoke care to every guest. At our Conrad properties, guests experience our Seamless Service – a natural, anticipatory service that is enhanced by innovation. It is consistent in delivery, flawless in execution and allows guests to personalize every aspect of their experience.

Right now there are 28 Waldorf Astorias and 35 Conrads worldwide. Do you have a stated goal for the number of hotels you’d like the luxury group to get to?

Both the Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands have experienced tremendous growth over the past few years with the opening of Waldorf Astoria Chengdu, Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, Conrad Chicago, Conrad Cartagena and Conrad Bora Bora – to name a few. We are focused on growing with the right properties (quality over quantity), and our brands will continue to expand in the coming years with 35 amazing properties in the pipeline or various stages of development across both Waldorf Astoria and Conrad in exciting destinations like the Maldives, Jakarta, London, San Francisco, Playa Mita and Shenyang.

What exciting projects do Hilton’s luxury brands have in the pipeline?

We are very excited about the grand opening of the highly-anticipated Waldorf Astoria Bangkok and Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas in late August of this year, as well as the opening of Waldorf Astoria Maldives and Conrad Washington DC early next year.

We are also incredibly excited about the first-of-its-kind Undersea Residence that will open at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island later this year. As the first international hotel brand to enter the Maldivian market 20 years ago, not to mention Conrad Maldives Rangali being home to the world’s first undersea restaurant, this stunning resort continues to pave the way for the modern, luxury traveller despite steep competition in the region. Soon, guests will be able to sleep under the sea, and I’m proud to be a part of such an innovative luxury brand.

Luxury means different things to different people, what epitomises luxury travel for you?

A place where I have no cellular reception! In all seriousness, to me, luxury travel is grounded in freedom of choice – it is a place where I can decide what I want to do, when I want to do it. It’s a place where I can be in tune with the sights and sounds of the destination I’m in. It’s a place that prioritizes the details – it doesn’t have to be the opulent, bold approach because I find that in many cases it’s focusing on all of the smallest details that make the biggest difference.

What are the key changes you have observed in the last five years in the luxury sector and what are your predictions for the next five years?

Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed an increased prioritization on guests seeking unique, authentic experiences when traveling.

I predict that a focus on personalization and sustainability will be two areas that will continue to drive change in the luxury sector. Guests will increasingly demand that luxury hotels know and understand their preferences and flawlessly, consistently anticipate their needs. At the same time, I believe there will be an increased focus on ensuring that luxury hotels are positively impacting their communities and the world around them.

In fact, we recently announced that Hilton will cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. With this commitment, Hilton will become the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions and send zero soap to landfill. I predict others in the industry will follow suit with these types of commitments.

And finally, what is your life motto?

People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

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