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The Luxury Leader Interview

Jill Kluge, Chief Marketing Officer, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

"Sustainability, which has been very close to our hearts for many years has become even more important as a key consideration when choosing a travel brand. We have been at the forefront of removing single use plastic from all aspects of our business and our guests strongly support our efforts." As the chief marketing officer for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Jill Kluge oversees the hotel group’s global sales and marketing strategies. We spoke to Jill about her vision for the business, her career journey and 'big break' moment, and what inspires her everyday.
21st Apr 2021
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The Luxury Leader Interview Jill Kluge, Chief Marketing Officer, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

What is your vision for the business?
Mandarin Oriental is well recognised as one of the world’s best luxury hotel groups. Our vision is to become more accessible to more people by creatively expanding our experiences beyond the four walls of the hotels. We want to build a World of Fans, who are delighted by our service, our care and our experiences.

How have you led the company through the current Covid-19 crisis?
Making sure that the trust our guests have always had in our brand is further extended during these difficult times. We have needed to be more flexible and agile – ensuring that our customers know that we have excellent health and safety protocols in place, attractive cancellation policies, creative packages and promotions to appeal to the individual needs of our guests.

And what do you see as the lasting impact of the pandemic on your business?
Sustainability, which has been very close to our hearts for many years has become even more important as a key consideration when choosing a travel brand. We have been at the forefront of removing single use plastic from all aspects of our business and our guests strongly support our efforts. It is still too early to tell if and when international business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels, but we are adapting our offering to ensure that we provide flexible accommodation packages, and wellness on the road tips to support our guests when travel resumes.

What’s next for both you and the company?
The much-anticipated reopening of Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid has just happened last week, after the most ambitious and extensive restoration in the iconic property’s 110-year history. Originally designed and built under the supervision of legendary hotelier César Ritz, the hotel first opened its doors in 1910. Over the last three years, it has been carefully restored, enhancing its facilities and services while preserving the unique Belle Époque character of the original building. The next opening is in Istanbul on the banks of the Bosphorus this summer –an elegant companion to our award-winning resort in Bodrum. With 20 more hotels and residences in the pipeline, Mandarin Oriental is well placed to welcome many new Fans in the years to come.

What was your big break?
Moving to Hong Kong from London in the mid 1980’s introduced me to a world of travel and luxury hotel keeping that far surpassed my experiences to date. Opportunities in Asia were widespread and it was soon after arriving that I moved from my previous work in HR to marketing and branding.

What inspires you?
Visiting new destinations and old favourites; talking to young people entering the business today with their enthusiasm and creative minds; the coastline of Wales; London in all its glory.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wishing to work in the luxury sector?
Take the time to understand the importance of history of the brand. Luxury is all about heritage, quality and innovation – all three should be balanced.

What would you be doing in a parallel life?
Running a book shop – with an extensive travel section.

What does British luxury mean to you?
Exacting standards, immaculate workmanship; Coolness and hip creativity.

What’s your favourite luxury?
When travelling, I have three things with me to help with the flights and jetlag My much loved mulberry tote, an exotic shawl that keeps me warm on flights that I purchased in India many years ago and Aromatherapy Associates oils that massage away the jet lag.

www.mandarinoriental.com