Iain Ainsworth brachte 2009 «White Line Hotels» auf den Markt.
Iain Ainsworth (engl.)
Iain Ainsworth, how would you describe your fascination for what your you’re doing right now with your organization «White Line Hotels»?
I have always had a strong emotional bond to creativity and hospitality, particularly the independent hotelier and smaller groups. Personally, I feel that sometimes our industry is a little behind the times and tends to forget what a hotel should be all about beyond expensive refurbs.
What was the trigger to found White Line Hotels?
After working in the business for so long I had a yearning to do something for myself – I sought the self-satisfaction that comes from creating something wholly yours, as a baker would in baking his own bread, and I also had a clear vision of what was missing in market as well as being curious about how to do things differently. There was no real opportunity for privately-owned, independent hotels to be marketed in a way that was not associated with GDS or booking portals, that allowed them to maintain their identity while focussing on direct connect and brilliant content creation.
Can you describe the philosophy / the most important values of White Line Hotels in a few words?
White Line Hotels is a pioneer and taste-maker. Narrating the world of travel and design, we seek those dreamers and one-off private abodes that have instinctive passion, style and soul, as well as a true understanding of what hospitality is all about.
What are the USPs of your company in comparison with your competitors?
Whereas competitors focus upon one genre or build huge, impersonal databases, we hold a tightly edited collection of the hotels that we believe in, and as a result we only have one hotel in each location, all of which are privately-owned, and with no restrictions. We work with the no-star to the five-star, and the 4-bed to the 90-bed – all filled to the brim with design, style and soul. We have also pioneered the approach of direct connect within the hotel world – we are B2C and instead of acting solely as a book-direct channel, we are a creative platform of brilliant content marketing.
Was it difficult in the beginning to find enough good hotels that would fit into your concept?
Yes, as the hotels we were seeking were very particular, one-off experiences, and we were approaching them with a very different business model to the booking agents – however, in recent years more hoteliers are more confident in their style and brand, and by joining our affiliation they know they are able to compete globally without any compromise on their identity.
Which markets have been important in the beginnings of your company? And which ones are the most important ones today?
The Alpine regions, where we now have 20+ design dens, were very important in the beginning, but today it is the Mediterranean and Urban Hubs that are the most important in building our portfolio.
Which role played did the digitalizing digitizing of the world play in your beginnings, and which role plays does it play today?
Digitalisation was crucial in the beginnings of a small company such as ours, as it enabled us to have a global reach that has in turn been pivotal in our expansion. Today, digitalisation enables us to create precise marketing plans, build consumer relations, track our statistics and successes to prove our place in the market and, in 2018, will see the evolvement of our exclusive travel club.
Where do you see White Line Hotels in 5 years, and where in 10 years?
In 5 years’ time, I see WLH closing the circle on travel and lifestyle as the leading travel portal for tactile, aesthetic, lifestyle-driven savvy travellers who seek ‘out of the box’ experiences, with an attached travel club for these high-end users. I see WLH with a huge database full of travellers who love and interact with us as a brand who understand them, and in who they trust. In 10 years, I see White Line Hotels edging into hotel operations with perhaps a managed portfolio and alternatively I could easily see myself sitting on the coast with a Negroni in hand, completing my first book: ‘Hotels – why I love & hate ‘em’.
Is the cake all distributed now – or do you still see new markets (destinations / contents) in which you would like to invest?
In the future, I see myself owning a hotel or two, consulting for hotels that may have lost their way and assisting with strong refurbishment programs, and helping those hotels position themselves that wish to stand out from the crowd.
What has been the biggest challenge for White Line Hotels until now in the past of White Line Hotels?
Representing a totally new business model within the industry was the biggest challenge, particularly in finding the initial member hotels that believed in us. Today, this is less of a problem, with 98% retention of members within the portfolio.
And what was the biggest joy during the last years?
Seeing the hotel collective grow as a community, the launch of our new website, the success of our bi-annual «Aficionados» magazines and that proud moment when you see the White Line Hotel member plaque outside a hotel. Also – the fact that we succeeded where others thought we’d fail – in the face of not being a standard booking portal.
Would you like to add sth. which is veryanything that is important to you or that hasn’t been mentioned until now?
We are pioneers in hotel marketing as we are not going down the avenue of discounting and offering meaningless amenities like ‘bowls of fruit’ or ‘late checkouts – subject to availability’ – instead, we work with and create engaging content and are able, as a company, to link together a technically random collection of individual, private hotels, into one very neat, exciting edit.