Design Hotels hosts Virtual Retreat

Month-long concept connects travel professionals with member properties globally

Proper Hotel, Santa Monica

A month-long initiative by Design Hotels aiming to engage travel professionals with the company’s member properties around the world has been praised by local frontline sellers. Design Hotels’ ‘Virtual Retreat’ concept was the first online forum of its kind, running from 24 August through to 26 September. The Virtual Retreat was developed in response to the hospitality landscape adapting to new parameters in how it communicates, collaborates and works with partners.

Organised in collaboration with Unsettled, a curator of international co-working retreats and virtual community experiences, the multifaceted program provided advisors with personal development workshops and one-on-one sessions with virtual networking events.

“The Virtual Retreat presents a new opportunity to rethink the way we live and gather, and with it, how we may better engage our travel community,” Design Hotels said.

The complimentary retreat was centred around weekly themes based on Promadic Values and an exploration of the future of travel, incorporating some 30 advisors from Design Hotels’ global network who were joined from key markets that included Brazil, Mexico, the USA, Germany, the UK and Australia.

The Retreat offered a unique opportunity for the unity of two groups – hoteliers and travel advisors – during an unprecedented era of travel, providing both circles with the essential tools and frameworks to position themselves successfully in the travel industry going forward.

In addition to personal development workshops, each themed week consisted of an Original Experience, hotel panel discussions, individual coursework, one-on-one sessions and access to the 24/7 Community Platform.

Between the sessions, which spanned five to six hours a week, Tuesday to Thursday, 20 participating member hotel brands such as Nobis Hospitality Group, Firmdale Hotels, Sir Hotels, Proper and Stamba engaged with agents in live virtual panels, weekly networking sessions and the newly developed Community Directory, on which direct messaging is enabled for enhanced conversation.

In its radical disruption of the traditional sales and tradeshow format, Design Hotels’ chosen partnership with Unsettled heralded the development of a brand-new hybrid environment for the travel trade, in which the retreat concept is successfully applied to an unfamiliar context and the idea of ‘journeying’ takes on a new guise.

Yvonne Verstandig, Co-Founder and Head of Leisure at Melbourne travel firm Executive Edge commented on the Virtual Retreat, saying: “At a time of such uncertainty in our industry the retreat has really helped me reflect on how I can not only make a difference for my clients but how we can collectively make a difference for communities across the globe.”

Marni Whittington, Travel Designer for Wentworth Travel, Double Bay, Sydney – said: “This virtual retreat reminded me about the power of human connections, brilliant industry minds networking together, sharing on a very personal level and creatively brainstorming about the future of our amazing industry. It has given me the skills and motivation to see beyond the current negatives and focus on how I, as a consultant, and human being, can make an impact and a difference to the expectations and experiences I create for my clients and their future travels.”

Lead image: Proper Hotel Santa Monica, a Design Hotels’ member

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