Los Angeles ILHA networking open house and Hospitality Launch Cover

Luxury Spotlight: Barak Hirschowitz, President of International Luxury Hotel Association

Meet Barak Hirschowitz, the President of International Luxury Hotel Association, and a leading influencer in the hospitality industry. Beginning his career as a chef, and becoming the best in this field, he went on to establish the International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA).

This global non-profit organization has one goal – to improve the standard of service in the luxury hotel industry. And it works to achieve this goal by providing resources for education, training and networking to its members.

He is also the co-founder of Hospitality Recruitment that started in 2004. With a focus on international hospitality recruitment, it assists the world’s best hotels, resorts and cruise line companies source talent.

Here is what he has to say about the luxury hospitality industry.

1. To be successful in an industry, one must be passionate.  How and why did you choose to work within the luxury hotel industry?

I was always attracted to the luxury hotel industry which allowed me to travel and work in the places where people vacation. My hospitality career started in the early 90’s as a chef in restaurants in New York. When I was offered the opportunity to join the team of a new luxury hotel in South Africa, I jumped at it. South African hotels have won best hotel in the world more times than any other country over the past 10 years.  There is something special about the combination of great hospitality, design, food, wine and scenery that sets it apart. I was lucky to be able to spend 15 years in the industry there.

 

Los Angeles ILHA networking open house and Hospitality Launch

2. In 2003, you were voted as one of the Top 5 Chef in South Africa. In your opinion, what makes a Chef stand out from the rest?

The ability to inspire their team, never compromise on ingredients and find their own style.

3. With other key players in the industry, you helped co-found the ILHA. Can you tell us a little about the mission and goals of the association?

The ILHA brings together hotel and travel companies, industry professionals, governments and educators with the common goal of improving standards and promoting innovation in service and design in the luxury segment of the hotel industry. We achieve these goals through education, training and communication in three key areas that differentiate the luxury segment from the rest of the hotel industry: service, design and technology.

4. The ILHA is now considered the largest influencer in the hospitality industry with 185,000 members on LinkedIn. Can you give us a tip on how to grow such a strong community?

The ILHA started in 2008 as Luxury Hoteliers, a small group of around 50 luxury hotel professionals who got together online to share best practices.  At the time, people were still nervous about sharing ideas online with their competitors.  It’s all about transparency and keeping pace with the changing needs of your guests.  Early on our members figured out it was better to work together.  It’s what helped us grow and keeps us growing.  Today, our LI group has over 1000 new members joining each week.

5. For someone new to LinkedIn, what is the best way to get involved within the ILHA community?  

Join the discussions. It will help you stay on top of the industry’s hot topics.  

 

Los Angeles ILHA networking open house and Hospitality Launch 2
6. The ILHA will be hosting the Fast Forward 2020 Conference in Washington DC this September. Tell us about it.

We have invited the luxury hotel industry’s thought leaders to DC to answer some of the greatest challenges facing hoteliers today and over the next five years.  

7. An impressive group of speakers will be giving advice at Fast Forward 2020, what should attendees expect to learn?

This is a must-attend event for anyone working with or in the luxury hotel industry.  We worked with leaders from the world’s top hotel groups to find out what are the greatest challenges they are facing right now.   What type of online and social media marketing is working? What new in-house technology is out there? How are the leading hotels managing their online reputation?  How to attract and prepare for business from new travel markets like China, Brazil and the multi-billion dollar wellness/medical travel? Can hotels benefit from partnering with luxury retail brands? The ILHA Fast Forward 2020 will bring together the smartest minds in the business to share their insights on how best to face these challenges now and over the next five years. Our experts are the leadership of hotel groups, universities, and major travel companies. They represent some of the biggest names in the industry including Ritz-Carlton, Hyatt, Trump, Michelin, STR, TripAdvisor, LuxuryLink, Cornell University, Georgetown University, Axess Worldwide and more.  

8. Apart from listening to industry leaders, what else can attendees expect at the conference?

In addition to networking opportunities, the ILHA attendees will have access to the Medical Tourism Association’s Congress being held in partnership with our event. This expo will have over 3,000 attendees and will introduce hoteliers to the fastest growing segment of the hospitality industry.

9. What does the future hold for the ILHA?

We are currently developing service training that can be taken regardless of location. It will help hotels located in remote locations train their staff and can help level the playing field for hospitality professionals wanting to move into the luxury segment. Another focus for us is to introduce chapters and local networking events outside the US.

10. As a last question, what is your personal definition of "luxury service"?  

True luxury service needs to be personalized. It’s what sets the best hotels in the world apart from the rest. When the guest leaves the hotel at the end of their stay, they should feel rested yet a little sad as if they are leaving their family behind.

 

Want to connect with Barak Hirschowitz? Do it on LinkedIn and Twitter. Or, reach out to us for an introduction.


Bespoke Luxury Definition

Bespoke Luxury: What Does It Mean?

Not too long ago, nearly all luxury brands prided themselves on their intimate knowledge of what their customers preferred. The phrase “the usual, Madam?” was as common in affluent circles forty years ago as Louis Vuitton handbags are in the hands of young fashionistas today. Once upon a time, every luxury brand understood that they were targeting la crème de la crème. They needed to provide the utmost level of service to satisfy the particular needs of these discerning buyers.

Now, the scenario is very much different. It seems that popular "luxury" brands think that by adding strawberries to a cup of cream makes for a luxurious experience. The arrival of mass consumption luxury items might satisfy the common "luxury shopper", but truth be told, it simply does not satisfy the ‘exclusivity itch’ of those who deserve the finest.

To scratch that itch, we need to turn our attention to boutique luxury brands, brands that offer bespoke luxury in lieu of mass consumption products. These brands stay true to the real definition of luxury by catering to individuals rather than the mass. But what exactly is bespoke luxury? Let's explore the concept further more.

 

Bespoke Luxury Unveiled

 

The true meaning of bespoke luxury isn’t found in the common dictionary. A good starting point to understand its true meaning would be to use this example: Think of a master drafter drafting patterns from scratch - without using a base or master pattern - to create products that match individual tastes and requirements. This is bespoke.

To further understand the concept of bespoke, we need to explain the fine line that distinguishes bespoke from made-to-measure products. When a client likes an existing product but needs to alter it to his individual needs, we call this custom-fit or tailor-made.

Bespoke stems from creating something truly unique for  an individual, something that will not be duplicated in the future.  In terms of garments, bespoke comes from being able to select everything from the fabric to the cut to the color to the finish. The price says the rest. This is not custom-fit; it is custom-built.

 

The How of Bespoke Luxury

 

Bespoke is not only about clothing. Select luxury brands cater to the discerning consumer in every industry. Think of Feadship, the Dutch superyacht builder which created the utmost  yacht; or of Calzature Marini, a small boutique brand in Rome creating shoes one at a time.

The derived value of a bespoke luxury product increases manifold because it resonates with individual tastes, choices, ideas and needs rather than popular trends or accepted standards. Now, imagine a bespoke item, say a suit made to fit your exact measurements and to your painstakingly crafted specifications. Would this be your ultimate power suit? Or would you prefer to buy a mainstream Hugo Boss suit instead?   Bespoke is a custom-built product, but it will only take on the aura of bespoke luxury if it gives you true value and perfectly complements your personality and style.

Luxury is out; bespoke luxury is in. To stay.

 

( Top Image Background Source)