Olivier Berrivin has spent his entire life around hotels, and his newest appointment as WorldHotels’ Asia Pacific managing director marks “a return to his luxury roots” for the former regional chief of BWH Hotel Group.
After all, the French native’s connection with the hospitality industry runs deep and long. As a fourth-generation hotelier who grew up in his family’s hotel business that included four properties in Chamonix, near the French Alps, Berrivin understood the meaning of luxury and service from a very young age. This was further honed by three decades of experience in the industry outside of his family business, spanning various positions with Accor Asia and most recently with the BWH Hotel Group, the parent company of WorldHotels.
The development of the Crafted collection will add some new blood, new identity and new flavour to the WorldHotels brand.
Given the pivotal role he has played in driving the development of BWH’s upscale brands across Asia Pacific, it’s only fitting that Berrivin now wants to “bring the best of both worlds together” at his new role, whether it’s bridging gaps in BWH’s aggressive vision of an end-to-end portfolio through WorldHotels’ strength in the luxury market segment, or understanding the perspectives of both hotel management companies and independent hotel owners in marketing, sales and distribution of the properties.
While Covid-19 has undoubtedly brought many challenges and disrupted the hospitality landscape, the seasoned hotel executive also believes that the pandemic has opened up more growth opportunities for WorldHotels in its wake.
“Hotel owners with existing agreements with big chains may probably think twice about being with hard brands and consider soft brands. I believe a substantial number of properties in the upscale, upper upscale and potentially luxury segments will probably think twice when it’s time to renew their existing agreements, and they will look at all other options [like WorldHotels].”
Part of the experienced trio charged with helming WorldHotels in Asia Pacific, Berrrivin counts portfolio retention – which currently stands at 200-plus globally for the network – and brand development as the topmost priorities as he sets out to “put WorldHotels on the map” to compete with rivals, including The Leading Hotels of the World and Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
Carlton Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit, which forms part of WorldHotels' Asia portfolio under the Elite collection.
A key part of the strategy entails growing the brand awareness of WorldHotels, which already counts independent hotel brands such as Jinjiang in China, Carlton in Singapore and Bangkok, and Rihga Royal Hotels in Japan as part of its portfolio in Asia. In the region, China as well as Vietnam will form focus markets of development for all four collections of WorldHotels.
Among WorldHotels’ brand stable – Luxury, Elite, Distinctive and Crafted – what gets Berrivin most excited is Crafted, the boutique collection launched early last year, and which will be given the development priority owing to the sub-brand’s immense growth potential.
Properties flying the Crafted flag will possess “a strong personality”, capturing the spirit of the destination they are located in or exhibiting creativity and ingenuity by way of its design, F&B or service to create a deep emotional connection with guests, Berrivin explained.
“The development of the Crafted collection will add some new blood, new identity and new flavour to the WorldHotels brand,” he said. With the flexibility the new brand offers, opportunities to bring in unique properties that might not quality for existing WorldHotels collections will be unlocked now.
“It’s not about aligning with the brand standards, it’s about being different,” he added. “With the new concept, we can finally bring them on.”
Berrivin is especially excited about Crafted, WorldHotels' boutique collection launched early last year. Pictured: The Vault Hotel, Sweden.
The Crafted collection already boasts a footprint in Europe and the US, including The Vault Hotel in Sweden, Hotel Haarhuis in the Netherlands and ACME Hotel Company Chicago in the US, while several properties in Asia are currently undergoing negotiation.
And would that also mean a chance for his aforementioned family hotels to join the WorldHotels’ network?
The possibility has been ruled out though, said Berrivin, as his family has already sold off their hotels to a Swiss investment company a few years back. Which is why he’s particularly excited about his new WorldHotels appointment, which puts him firmly back in the luxury terrain, right where his first started out his life-long journey in hospitality.
“My mum likes to say said I’ve come full circle,” said Berrivin, who remains in Bangkok for the time being for his new role although an eventual relocation to Singapore, where WorldHotels' regional office is based, is in the works.