Amaury Piedra, GM of Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach, in Miami Beach, Florida, discusses 2016 hospitality trends, AirBnB and his own hotel in this Q&A.
What are your predictions for South Florida’s 2016 travel/hospitality industry?
AP: 2016 should prove to be another solid year for South Florida’s tourism industry. Miami Beach has seen a large increase in inventory over the past year and it will take some time to absorb, but compared to others, the market remains very strong.
What trends are impacting the hotel world?
AP: Millennials will continue to be a fast growing segment of the trend population. The way hotels market to, communicate with and serve this growing segment is a key to success over the next several years. In addition, we must all continue to find the best uses for technology and how it can allow hotel and hotel brands to further strengthen their relationships with customers.
How is the rise of mobile/digital impacting your business strategy?
AP: It’s amazing how fast tech continues to evolve. Keeping up with sufficient bandwidth for multiple devices people utilize is always challenging. From a strategy perspective, it’s more important than ever to have a strong social media presence. The best thing is that there are so many new ways of communicating and reaching out to your customers, even on an hourly basis, allowing you to build strong relationships.
How are concierges adapting to the growing technology?
AP: I believe concierges will use technology to further strengthen their relationship with customers. Whether it’s communicating through the various apps available to being able to fulfill requests faster through the use of technology; the end result is faster response time to customer needs.
What do you think about services like AirBnB?
AP: AirBnB and services like it have created new competition for hotels for a certain type of customer. This is why building relationships with your customer is key. People still want the warm greeting upon arrival, the concierge that knows their preferences and takes care of their needs, the signature onsite restaurant and the ability to be served their favorite beverages by the pool or on the beach.
What are your top feeder markets, and where do you see future travelers coming from?
AP: The top feeder market for South Florida always has been, and continues to be, the domestic market—especially the NY/NJ/CT tristate area. Internationally, South American countries like Venezuela and Colombia always had strong visitation. The UK was always a strong international feeder. Over the last several years, visitation from Eastern Europe has really grown, along with Brazil. In addition, increased airlift for the Middle East such a Qatar Airways allows the destination to continue to broader its reach to new customers.
What is the key to a hotel’s success?
AP: In my opinion, it is the people. The staff makes a hotel a success. Assuring a properly renovated, clean and maintained hotel, it’s the staff that travelers will remember. At the Shelborne Hotel, we are blessed with a group that truly embraces the meaning of hospitality and in our case, Wyndham Hotels “Count On Me” service spirit. While we receive positive comments on our facility, the truly passionate comments are always driven by the actions of our team members.
What amenities at Shelborne set you apart from the competition?
AP: Sarsaparilla Club, our soon to open restaurant, has made numerous lists as one of the most anticipated openings of 2016. Our pool deck lends itself to an exceptional day of relaxation. Our stunningly appointed, air-conditioned private cabanas feature an entertainment center, private bathrooms, spa services and the option to have your own mixologist and rows of inviting lounge chairs. The Drawing Room Bar features a staff of talented mixologists, creating craft cocktails that have been featured in numerous publications.
In conjunction with Art Basel Miami 2015, Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach introduced six large scale paintings and five of Bosco Sodi’s glistening gold rock sculptures, and has them on permanent display for the enjoyment of our guests. The pieces were commissioned by hotel owners and serious art collectors, Paul and Dayssi Kanavos, to be a part of the hotel’s permanent collection.
What types of green practices does the Shelborne offer?
AP: We utilize LED energy efficient lightbulbs throughout the property. In every guest room, there is a recycle bin, along with VFD controlled air handlers. We also reuse our keycards. In 2016, we have plans to enhance our “go green” initiatives to increase our environmental commitment.