Q&A with Donald Watt - COO
20th April, 2020
Q Since opening 12 years ago, how has The Hideaways Club
created a trusting relationship with its Members?
We treat our Members like family, giving them unrivalled access to our team members and senior management team. A key part of this is the open and transparent communication we have with Members, which includes such things as our Annual Operating Review, quarterly Members newsletters, and Member events in selected locations around the world.
Our aim is to deliver the highest standards in both property maintenance and member service delivery. Overall, our Members' online satisfaction ratings are consistently high at over 92% (in both the Classic and City Collections), year on year.
Q What measures do you have in place to give Members peace of mind, with respect to both when they book their holidays and to their Membership of the Club?
Members' safety is always our priority, and even more so in these unprecedented times of Covid-19. We have issued detailed directives to Members and our local teams around the world, and we have taken preventative measures to minimise the risk to members and local teams of a second wave of this virus. This list is not definitive but includes such steps as stringent pre-opening deep cleans, new daily cleaning practices, and personal protection equipment [PPE] requirements for local teams and contractors.
We are a Club of like-minded co-owners and there is a sense of family and belonging. We treat our Members as we would our own families and their enjoyment and safety are our utmost priority.
Q With all the uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought, why is Membership of The Hideaways Club the smart thing to do?
We, and our properties, are reliably consistent. Regardless of which home they visit, Members know it will be presented to very high standards and trust that it will have all the great hallmarks of The Hideaways Club properties that they have come to love.
Furthermore, Members have a dedicated Personal Concierge for all their trips, and a Local Concierge for priceless local insights, top tips, where to go and the happening places to visit locally. Most have the Local Concierge's mobile number on speed dial, so they appreciate there is someone available who they know and trust, 24/7.
We at The Hideaways Club spend our time researching holiday villas, taking care of logistics and maintaining the properties so our Members have more time to relax and recharge with family and friends.
Q We have seen the importance of the home grow considerably in the past month or so as everyone stays home to stay safe; with a portfolio of exquisite homes away from home around the world, what comfort can Members take from their Membership?
Members really do feel as if our properties are a home from home - they know what to expect and there are no nasty surprises. They afford our Members the space, privacy, and comfort to allow them to create priceless memories with family and friends.
Our Members are justifiably proud of our exquisite properties in stunning locations, as well as the attention to detail and high standards we achieve in regard to property maintenance and general cleanliness, and they take real pride in welcoming friends and family to their homes.
The properties are focused around family life; they are spacious, fitted with the latest technology, and all have an office area, great outdoor living areas, pools, and games rooms.
Q What do you do to ensure your team are experts in the field of property management?
Our team members all come with several years' experience in property management, have great attention to detail and are extremely service focused. Once on board, each team member is then fully trained to our exacting Hideaways Club standards.
Each of our local hosts must complete pre-and post-visit property audits to ensure all properties are maintained and prepared to the levels our Members are accustomed to.
To ensure the highest levels of professionalism and service are maintained, we have worked with the Lausanne Hospitality and Management School in Switzerland to develop online audits and service mechanisms.
Q What do you look for in a potential property to make sure it meets The Hideaways Club's exacting standards?
It is all about location, location, location. The location must appeal to our Member base - we want properties that are hidden away, yet not too far away from the region's/city's attractions and amenities. It is the best of both worlds ideally.
Practically, we are looking for spacious three- to five-bedroom properties with great outdoor space and stunning views for Members to enjoy with friends and family.
There is also the investment opportunity to consider. We typically buy a property to refurbish or develop, offering investment growth to our Members even before we open our doors.
The community of like-minded individuals around the world is an important part of the Club - how do you attract them and maintain that sense of belonging?
Our Members are co-owners of the whole portfolio of properties in their Fund so 'ownership' and 'belonging' are intrinsic to the brand experience.
Over 60% of new Members come from existing Members, so many will already know at least one Member of the Club when they join.
Plus, we get to know each of our Members personally and each Member is invited to complete a Member survey post visit, so we always have accurate and up-to-date feedback on the property presentation, service delivery, destination, and experience.
Members are also invited to assist us in which new destinations the Fund invests in next. Most recently, Members noted a gap in the Greek Islands, Sicily, and the Italian Lakes, all of which have since been filled with properties purchased in Corfu, Crete, Sicily, and Lake Maggiore.
Q What do you do to help Members make amazing memories with The Hideaways Club?
All that we possibly can, which involves everything from taking care of all the property management, so the Member's second home is fully maintained, ready and waiting for their stay, to providing our pre-trip planning service to assist Members to make the most of their holidays and family time. We also provide on-the-ground local knowledge - our teams live locally and have extensive knowledge of the surrounding areas; they can suggest how best to experience the destination in an authentic and individual way.
Q How do you think travel is going to change
I think there will be some positive changes, and we will see an increased focus on spending quality time with family and friends as people seek to reconnect and experience new things together.
I expect there will also be a new appreciation of reliable concierge and time-saving services, and a heightened ambition to 'own the moment' (which also applies to co-ownership over rental). Lastly, I think there will be a greater awareness of 'legacy' and the importance of creating a better world for future generations.