The brand behind some of the most luxurious hotel destinations on earth, Preferred Hotels & Resorts this year celebrates 50 years of inspiring travel.
Comprised of 700 member hotels, resorts and residences across 85 countries, the company’s diverse portfolio is categorised into five distinctive collections to allow guests to craft their own personalised adventures.
The CEO Magazine sat down with Preferred Hotels & Resorts President Michelle Woodley, whose 30-year history in the hospitality business has seen her dip her foot in departments ranging from marketing and sales, to revenue management, operations, IT and customer relations.
Passionate about hospitality from a young age, Michelle’s philosophy in life and in business centres on diversity of thought, open communication, mutual respect, teamwork, accountability and – of course – people.
Michelle shares her plans to create a collection of innovative and luxurious projects that will drive the success of Preferred Hotels & Resorts into the next five decades.
How is Preferred Hotels & Resorts celebrating its golden 50th anniversary?
We’re celebrating our legacy of ‘Inspiring Travel for 50 Years’ while putting in place exciting innovations to drive our success into the next five decades. We’re committed to taking what we do to the next level, with a focus on consumer desires and experiences.
How is the hotel industry adapting to shifting social trends, like the rise of the sharing economy and the growing presence of companies like Airbnb
The popularity of residential stays continues to grow with travellers globally, regardless of their reason for travel. This prominent shift in the consumer mindset is a reason why residence rentals, such as Airbnb, have become so widespread.
We see that our customer base is looking for a residential experience with the features, comfort and safety of a luxury hotel. Our Preferred Residences collection offers more than 70 properties that combine the space, privacy and flexibility of a home with the luxuries and convenience of a hotel stay.
How do you deliver a hotel experience like no other?
Our brand is special because of the independent nature of our hotels: no two hotels are alike, and all deliver a unique guest experience with authenticity and a sense of local culture. There is a set of quality standards that must be met for quality assurance; as long as our standards are met, we let the hotel’s personality drive the experience.
What is your go-to motivator?
Focus and prioritisation. When I have too much going on in my head, I tend to drift across topics ineffectively. When I pull back, prioritise and focus, this leads to a great sense of accomplishment of the truly meaningful things.
What is one thing you do, without fail, every day?
Whether I am in our Chicago office, London office, Singapore, or anywhere in between, I always take a lap around the office to say hello to our team and thank them for their work. They are the ones who drive the business.
What advice would you share with the next generation of female leaders?
I hope that other career women look at successful women and men as role models to develop their own sense of self and contribute to the achievement of their own greatest potential.
Regardless of gender, I advise young leaders to go into every meeting to learn something new. Even if you don’t think the subject is interesting or relevant – there is always something to be learned.
And, ask questions – especially of your customers. Whenever possible, do it in person because their insights will help you build your business.
What is your secret weapon when it comes to business?
Being myself – what you see is what you get. I believe in being my best self every day, holding true to my personal values and ensuring all that I do in business supports our company values.
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