Checking In With SLH

Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s (SLH) global presence now reaches 82 countries, and its CEO is flatly stating that its solid relationship with the travel agency community has spurred its growth.

Filip Boyen said during a Tuesday Toronto event that SLH now has some 524 members found in all continents except Antarctica.

The properties themselves range from one with two villas to 200-unit hotels in Shanghai and New York, with the average having 56 rooms.

“We have our own little niche,” Boyen told PressToday, adding that hotels wishing to become Small Luxury Hotels of the World members must demonstrate they provide “outstanding service” and SLH wants its members to have a “very close connection to the community” they’re in.

Among services SLH provides is a reservations line available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Those staffing the line collectively provide service in eight languages.

Member hotels that SLH decides are failing to meet its standards will lose their membership. The hotels are periodically reviewed during unannounced inspections.

Boyen said travel agents deliver the bulk of Small Luxury Hotels of the World bookings and “needless to say we love travel agents. Their product knowledge is amazing.”

SLH travel agent business has risen 20% over the past three years, a development Boyen said underscores that the predictions by some several years ago that the travel agency community would largely disappear have been proven wrong.

In all SLK bookings were up 16% in 2017 and the first three months of this year saw an 18% rise. “Most of the increase is from travel agents,” Boyen added.

Agents receive 10% commissions for bookings.

SLH receives 700 to 800 membership applications a year, with only around 6% or 7% of those applications being approved.

Boyen said he’d be happy to see membership reach the 600 mark in the next few years, but is also content to have it remain at the current level.

Boyen said SLH properties differ markedly, which SLH approves of. “We champion their difference. You have that element of surprise.”

Pictured are Boyen, SLH spokeswoman Dana O’Malley and Julie Owens, SLH’s regional director of sales – east coast.