Embrace new ideas to adapt to changing world, Saatchi & Saatchi boss tells hoteliers

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Annual hotel conference, Hotel

Kevin Roberts told hoteliers they would need to embrace change and bring in new ideas to appeal to customers living in a 'vuca world'
Kevin Roberts told hoteliers they would need to embrace change and bring in new ideas to appeal to customers living in a 'vuca world'
Hoteliers will need to adapt to the challenges of existing within a ‘VUCA’ (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world if they want to meet the needs of consumers in the future, according to the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide.

Addressing the audience at the Annual Hotel Conference in Manchester yesterday, Kevin Roberts, who has led the creative organisation for the last 16 years, said the integration of technology into every part of our lives meant that guests now expected services to be faster than ever before and adapt more quickly to their ever-changing needs.

Roberts, who said he spent ‘about 220 days of the year’ in hotels, urged hoteliers to embrace new ideas rather than stick to the status quo or invest in marketing campaigns or refurbishments to win over guests, and crucially, ensure staff and guests felt involved and engaged in that idea.


The winning formula to surviving in a VUCA world, he said, is based around five ‘ideas’ which are: 

  • Idea 1: Be purpose inspired. “What is the dream of your hotel and how can people be a part of that movement?”
  • Idea 2: Want to win. “Take a look at all the language used in your hotel and change it to get everyone to buy into your idea.”
  • Idea 3: Turn your hotel into a ‘lovemark’. “A successful brand has to be irreplaceable and irresistible.”
  • Idea 4: Embrace the secrets. “You have to know how guests feel, how you can surprise and delight them and make them feel part of the movement."
  • Idea 5: Make it happen. “Successful entrepreneurs have a different process than most business people, they spend less time assessing an idea and more time executing it.”

Roberts, who said some of his favourite hotels were the Malmaison in Manchester, Holbeck Ghyll and The Samling in Cumbria and The Bulgari in London, said ultimately an idea could only become a success if a hotel hired the right staff.   

“It starts with the people,” he said. “You can have the new bar or the new restaurant looking great, but when I’m away from home, the hotel is my home so I need to feel welcomed as a friend and that can only happen if the talent is right." 

Good quality business services, personalised service and having access to a 24 hour gym were also important, Roberts said.

“I’m talking mostly about the needs of the corporate guest, because most of the time I’m using hotels when on business,” he said. “but increasingly my work and home life are becoming integrated, so these are important for business and leisure guests.

Roberts was the opening speaker at the first day of the Annual Hotel Conference which continues in Manchester today.

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