Paul Pisani, SVP/hotel development at Malta-based Corinthia Hotels International, is a veteran attendee at the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), the annual global hospitality conference organized by Questex, parent company of Hotel Management magazine.
In 1990, Pisani joined the family business that was founded in 1962, and rose through the ranks to group marketing manager before relocating to Turkey to oversee five Corinthia-branded hotels as regional director for operations and development. In the late 1990s, he returned to Malta to spearhead the company’s expansion into the EMEA region and was named to his current position in 2010.
Pisani spoke about the importance of authenticity and relevance in a period of huge technological advancement and why events such as IHIF continue to hold significant value to senior executives across the hospitality industry.
How is business?
With nine properties worldwide, including a successful flagship in London and four more landmark hotels opening in the coming years, Corinthia is currently in a very strong position. We have a confident global growth strategy in terms of new openings and development, and are actively seeking further opportunities in key gateway locations around the world.
Which markets/regions are you looking at for future Corinthia hotels? What is attractive about these?
Corinthia plans to grow the portfolio sensibly and steadily, prioritizing looking for the right building or site in the right location, particularly [in] important cities and resorts worldwide. We are currently working on projects in Dubai; Bucharest, [Romania]; Brussels, [Belgium]; [as well as] Moscow and several other projects are under consideration. Our main focus remains on Europe and the Middle East, though we are also focused on the [U.S.]—Manhattan in particular.
Corinthia is arguably one of the defining brands of luxury travel. How has luxury travel changed since the brand was established in 1962?
Luxury travel is constantly evolving and, of course, technology has been one of the biggest advances since Corinthia was established. We have embraced this change and continue to invest, adapt and utilize the innovations that will give us a competitive edge and streamline the guest experience.
Crucially, though, we believe technology is about balance. It should improve guest satisfaction while not replacing the personal touch and meaningful customer-service interactions.
Additionally, guests are increasingly looking for unique and authentic experiences to reconnect when they travel. In a world that is evermore fast paced, wellbeing has become overwhelmingly important. Building upon a state-of-the-art spa, it is necessary to provide a holistic approach to mind, body and nutrition that has the power to not only nourish but transform a guest’s life.
We recognize that our guests are much more experienced than they were 50 years ago, so authenticity and relevance remain key pillars, even in a time of evolution.
You are obviously very proud to be a family business. What attributes does this provide?
The first Corinthia was founded on a commitment to extending family values through generosity and good service as well as understanding the critical importance of hospitality in delighting all the senses...We are a brand with depth that has organically evolved over close to 60 years in the spirit of a family-inspired business. Today, "Uplifting Lives" is the philosophy that informs everything we do.
We live in a globally hyper-connected world. Why is there still clear value in the industry coming together for events such as IHIF?
While technology undoubtably enables us to live in a globally hyper-connected world, the inspiring environments and opportunities that industry events such as IHIF provide are second to none. Immense progress can be made when so many influential professionals gather together in one place for a specific purpose and, of course, human connections in business are invaluable.
IHIF 2020i s scheduled for March 2-4 at the InterContinental Berlin and registration is now open at www.ihif.com.