Banyan Tree: Bringing back magic to the 'rudely interrupted' hospitality industry

Late last year, news broke that former Dentsu Singapore CEO Rosalynn Tay (pictured) had joined Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts as the new senior vice president, head of growth and demand. Tay was asked to drive the group’s multi-brand growth strategy while charting customer engagement across current and new digital channels. She was given the monumental task of defining the strategic approach to sales, marketing, distribution, revenue and channel management.

No stranger to the client side industry, Tay has had extensive experience working with the likes of Tiger Airways and DBS Bank. As part of our January ‘The Futurist’ series, she shares with us some of the challenges she anticipates will be impacting the hospitality industry.

Marketing: What is the biggest change in hospitality?

The world of hospitality is such a weird and wonderful space. The industry with the magic of travel has been rudely disrupted by Airbnb. Redefining hotel stays, and in the process, more than doubling the total number of rooms available for holiday makers in the blink of an eye. That’s just the first wave of disruption. The entire travel pattern has shifted from a linear plan to a much more dynamic, whatever captures the imagination and pocket cycle. Knowing, influencing and predicting guests’ behaviours, preferences and needs allow us to create uniquely customised experiences to “wow” and be the top-of-mind brand recall by our guests. For it to now come together in a frictionless way with a curated online brand experience is the biggest change I see.

Marketing: What trends excite you?

The themes of sustainability, well-being and transformational travel will be things to watch out for in 2020. Sustainability is about powering a greener tomorrow and creating a brighter future for the communities and the stakeholders in the ecosystem we are in. Going beyond protecting the environment, it is also about the commitment towards sustainability and development in the communities. At Banyan Tree Group, we build and develop around the communities wherever our hotels are planted around the world – to blend with the natural environment, preserve the culture and heritage while providing employment opportunities to locals and the village artisans to support their handicraft.

Sustainability is a key pillar of our company’s long-term vision. We are the pioneers in the industry with our sustainability efforts. Well-being has evolved, along with mindfulness and the ability to be fully present, and aware of where we are and what we are doing. This is especially critical for busy urbanites seeking balance, focus and calm amid the craze of work and hectic lifestyles. As guests shift their travel aspirations from “escape for indulgence” to an “escape for well-being”, there is an imperative for the hospitality industry to keep abreast with the transition. Being a pioneering and innovative leader in the global hospitality industry, we will soon be launching an exciting new brand. Watch this space!

Marketing: What do you think is an over-hyped area of marketing?

We need to remember that digital is an enabler, not the be all and end all. Performance media is nothing without soul. Consumers respond to relevance, purpose and authenticity. It is not about being digital, but rather, being frictionless. If we innovate in this area, we can win over travellers. By creating a conscious and responsible way of consumption when travelling, we win over even more like-minded travellers. If we can marry technology with conscious and responsible consumption, the world will be a better place and our planet can try to live a little longer. Let’s start somewhere.

Marketing: What do you think will be the new role of marketers in 2020?

From simply telling compelling stories and narratives, to simply looking at the science of performance media, the new role of marketers needs to evolve and have the ability to do both. It is critical to have the aptitude to embrace change, adopt a digital mindset and possess a strategic outlook and approach. Imagine what it’s like to grow a band of brand advocates who truly trust and love the brand. Building a virtuous cycle where the business of travel is trusted. That is the ecosystem we aspire towards.

The article first appeared in Marketing's January-February 2020 edition of The Futurist.