Adrian Messerli, president of hotel operations, EMEA, at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, has had a remarkable career across borders. We learn more about his hospitality journey and where he believes the industry is heading.
What are the qualities that make you well suited for your new role?
After 18 years with Four Seasons, it’s clear our company offers more than just a job; it provides a sense of belonging. Thus, it is a place where everyone has the opportunity to contribute to strengthening an already firmly built foundation.
Our employees and their dedication to genuine care makes all the difference in luxury hospitality. Furthermore, I am incredibly proud and energized to be taking on this new leadership role across EMEA.
Over nearly two decades at Four Seasons, I’ve had the privilege of working across diverse regions — EMEA, the Americas and Asia Pacific. As a result, I gained experience in diverse properties, ranging from palace hotels in Europe to skyscrapers in the Middle East and beach resorts in Africa. Most recently, I led the opening of Four Seasons Hotel Madrid – our first property in Spain. Additionally, I oversaw several of our hotels in the region.
EMEA is such an incredibly diverse region. I believe my experience in Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Seychelles, Lisbon and Madrid, along with working globally, has enabled me to support and advance the Four Seasons team.
In such a leadership role, I have the opportunity to work with specialists who operate at a completely different level. So, my role is to bring everyone together, in addition to making sure the word on the street reflects the true talent of our team.
With over 60 years of experience and a service culture rooted in empathy, Four Seasons delivers a standard of luxury defined by humanity, generosity and emotion.
In your opinion, what is the main driver of hospitality?
Hospitality is broadly known as a service industry. However, for Four Seasons, hospitality is a people industry. Thus, Four Seasons is a brand powered by our people.
In August 2022, we launched a new creative platform: Based on a True Stay. It represents an authentic evolution of the brand. With this new creative, we are leaning into our brand ethos and communicating it in a heightened and surprising way. At Four Seasons, our philosophy is that the guest should be at the center of all decision-making.
It is important to note that true luxury has changed markedly; it is not about stuffy, impersonal service and over-the-top opulence, rather an unabashed focus on how people want to be treated. Furthermore, it centers on the simple elegance of radical empathy. Notably, consumers are craving connections to companies whose business is rooted authentically in their brand purpose.
The luxury customer is changing. Our guest demographic is shifting toward younger, more diverse guests who are passionate about social and environmental issues. Thus, they expect that brands will mirror these values. Additionally, they seek convenient and personalized journey across all brand touchpoints.
Customers expect a seamless high-tech/high-touch experience across their journey. Furthermore, their expectations around technology are higher than ever. They prefer digital interactions throughout their travel journey. So, they seek a seamless shift from offline to online channels at a whim, all with a personal touch.
For Four Seasons, the App and Chat have been popular platforms since launch. Our Chat offering is the only one that doesn’t resort to the use of a chatbot. Future AI innovations may enhance services, but Four Seasons emphasizes that its Chat, unlike others, remains powered by real people, ensuring personalized interactions.
How is the industry in the region faring compared to other markets?
It is important to note that 2023 has been a strong year for EMEA. Off the back of 2022, we have continued to see high levels of demand for our properties in the region.
With the more gradual easing of travel restrictions, Asia has once again become more accessible to many this year. However, the diversity of destinations seen in EMEA has ensured that it continues to hold appeal for so many. We recently opened Four Seasons Hotels and Residences, The Pearl-Qatar.
Leisure remains the primary business focus. However, there is a growing contribution from the group and corporate segments within Four Seasons.
As an overall trend, we have seen increasing lead times for bookings across the region. Furthermore, international reservations are already looking strong for the first quarter of 2024.
What are the key markets for Four Seasons in the Middle East and how will you be supporting brand growth?
The Middle East is an incredibly important market for Four Seasons. With 40 properties in the wider EMEA region, we have been able to achieve strong brand awareness. Furthermore, we have been able to also establish a high brand preference.
While guests come from across the Middle East, our top markets are currently Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait.
Middle Eastern travelers are vital for Four Seasons globally, staying in various properties beyond the region, from Indian Ocean resorts to European palaces.
What can you tell us about some of the most promising ideas and projects you are currently working on?
There is an exciting pipeline of projects underway for EMEA. Indeed, 2024 is poised to mark the opening of multiple properties. Such as our third hotel in Rabbat, Morocco along with Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Jeddah at the Corniche.
Exciting Middle East projects include developments in Egypt (Luxor, Cairo New Capital), Saudi Arabia (Jeddah, Diriyah, NEOM’s Sindalah Island, Red Sea’s Shura Island) and Muscat, Oman.
To continue leading our industry, we must always reach higher, innovating how we showcase our brand. We will continue to place guests at the center of all decision-making, which requires a strong corporate culture. Consequently, it requires us to empower employees to deliver a level of unscripted, personalized care.
Our ability to deliver simple acts of unscripted care, we aim to transform a one-time transaction into lifetime connections.