COMO Group Builds Empathetic And Genuine Relationship With Guests

The CEO Olivier Jolivet believes people pay a premium for something they will remember, for something they enjoy.

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By Sanjay Goel

COMO Group

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Oliver Jolivet has spent over two decades of his career in the business of luxury. Attributing his uncompromising stance on brand building to his French heritage and background, Jolivet believes time and authenticity play big roles in delivering a well-positioned luxury experience in the hospitality market.

Stepping into his role as the chief executive officer of COMO Group, Jolivet pushes the status quo with exclusivity and novelty in experiences. Under his wing, COMO Group—which owns COMO Hotels and Resorts—recently welcomed the brand's first property in Italy; the COMO Castello Del Nero, a 12-century castle with medieval frescoes spanning 740-acres set in Tuscany. COMO Group features hotels, from the Maldives to Miami, with each stay driving values of sustainability, wellness and understated luxury. Extending beyond hospitality, COMO's brand equity has grown to become a lifestyle aggregator of sorts—with COMO Lifestyle, Cuisine, Fashion and the Shambhala wellness business. Underpinning these complementary lifestyle concepts is the vision to grant loyal members with privileges and rewards across the brand with membership cards.

At the heart of it all, Jolivet carries the brand further through empathetic and genuine relationship building with the people who matter the most—the guests.

COMO's uniqueness, according to Jolivet, is that "everything is tailor-made for you and only you. The difference between a good hotel and an excellent hotel is the service. In the end, it is all about our people."

According to him, people pay a premium for something they will remember, for something they enjoy and there is a big difference between a commodity business and selling a luxury experience and it is not always scalable.

On being asked that how does COMO Group retain premium clientele, he says, "Recognition, recognition and recognition. It means your attention to details must be the best."

The Group has exciting plans for 2020 such as new destinations and new experiences like the film photography retreat in Bhutan in partnership with award-winning photographer Michael Turek and Natural World Safaris; the launch of COMO Club, a brand new recognition programme combining all COMO businesses (hospitality, wellness, fashion, lifestyle and sport), and a new product line for COMO Shambhala, the award-winning wellness concept.

COMO and its businesses are unique in the luxury landscape, says Jolivet. "Since its inception, shareholders stayed the same, which provides stability to the organisation and the opportunity to think long term. It is a massive competitive advantage especially when recruiting the right talents."

He adds that resilience, innovation skills and intensity are the personal attributes that he looks for while picking people for key leadership roles within COMO Group's hotels. "We are lucky to have an important pull factor and 80 per cent of our recruitment is coming from CVs directly received from candidates."

When it comes to identifying new locations for COMO Group's hotels or other assets, Jolivet looks at the soul first. "Though it's difficult to say. For a hotel the location is important, you can always build around the content. For an e-business it will be its disruption factor as well as its short-term potential. For a sports business, it will be its ability to attract new talent."

The Group has a clear talent retention programme as well as consistent training at all levels. The staff turnover is the lowest, he says. "Our employees must feel good and this is always a priority for me. We are aiming to accelerate in this direction to create a real competitive edge."

Among the COMO Group's Dempsey Hill restaurants, Jolivet's favourite is COMO Cuisine for their Tandoori Cauliflower.

In light of new developments—including a loyalty programme through the COMO Club set to occur this 2020—Jolivet narrows down the point of difference that elevates and keeps the brand in its pristine level, a focus on creating unique, luxury experiences for its guests. With the understanding that experience-driven and authentic stays are key differentiators in the hospitality market, COMO Group builds concepts around the location and the story it tells.

By aggregating lifestyle experiences across a proliferation of touch points, COMO delivers heightened exclusivity and quality. Inspired by the destination, the brand combines its intuitive and personalised approach to hospitality with their other services—fashion, elegant cuisine, award-winning wellness retreats

Helming the COMO Group, Jolivet considers high resilience and an innovative mindset key to nurturing the competitive advantage that is necessary to keep the brand growing as a lifestyle aggregator while adding more business activities to it.

Sanjay Goel

Consultant and Advisor

Having a golden experience in consulting and advisory, Sanjay Goel effectively studies the markets and provides communication guidance to companies from the South-East Asia. His clients include Asia Pacific brands like Charles & Keith, Ginger & Smart, and Kitte.

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