Mandarin Oriental Group is focused on quality at the top end, says Richard Baker

One of the most iconic luxury brands in hospitality around the world, Mandarin Oriental, has for long kept out of India. In this exclusive interview, we recap the strengths of MO and also the possibility of their India entry. Excerpts of interview with Richard Baker, Executive VP – Operations, Director – Asia.


How is luxury happening? Many of the world economies continue not to do well. How is this impacting luxury travel?

Luxury Travel is about personalization. The expectations are that when a customer pays a (typically higher) price for their experience, they expect value. Value is created by the provider of the services in the form of understanding the traveller’s needs wants and preferences. ‘It’s expensive, but it’s worth it to me” is important in today’s world of luxury travel, which continues to grow.

Is the trends same or different between business and leisure travel in your space?

Leisure guests tend to spend more than business travellers. They stay longer and therefore have more time to experience the facilities, such as restaurants, bars
and spas.

How are you reconciling the more recent war on terror with the hospitality business? What is the impact in cities in Europe in specific?

As a global brand there are unfortunately dangers and threats in every part of the world in which we operate, including terrorism, natural disasters and pandemics. As well as having stringent safety protocols in place to assist our hotels and ensure our guests and colleagues are safe, we also benefit from our a varied portfolio and geographic diversification.

How is the understanding of luxury changing within the hospitality space. Is there something like tradition in this space? And, conversely, is there any new age/modern luxury space? Or, fundamentals remain unchanged?

Our strategy, which is to be widely recognised as the best hotel group in the world remains unchanged. At Mandarin Oriental we believe that true luxury lies in creating legendary hotels through the perfect combination of tradition, quality and innovation over a period time. To this end we are focused on providing exceptional facilities and legendary service.

How do you see the difference between dabblers in luxury, those that are in all segments, against specific luxury citadels, like MO hotels for instance, can the two genuinely compete?

There is room for all in a growing global tourism market, where Mandarin Oriental is positioned at the very top of the luxury sector.

How will the forthcoming merger of Starwood and Marriott make any difference for you?

It is an interesting time for the hospitality industry. Mandarin Oriental however has never aimed to be the biggest hotel group, but we do aim to be the best and to this end we remain focused on our own strategy.

A standard question – how do you see India emerging, and when do we see an MO property here in India?

India is an important and growing market for the Group and in time we would love to have a property in this destination. While our development team continues to review opportunities around the world, we have nothing to announce at this time.

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