Checking in with … Dominique Piquemal, VP Luxury Operations EMEA

From insightful trends to personal viewpoints, each quarter a Hilton insider shares their thoughts. 

Q: What does your role involve?

A: I oversee operations for a portfolio of 20 luxury hotels across EMEA. I’m lucky to travel all over the region meeting with Team Members and owners to ensure the best in our hospitality and guest experience. I also motivate and train our talented and passionate Team Members across the region.

Q: What changes have you noticed recently in the hotel industry?

A: It’s all about authenticity. Guests want to experience our hotels, yes, but also the destination in an authentic way. Luxury experiences are as unique as the hotels themselves. That’s why we created specially curated experience packages across all our destinations — from clam picking and oyster tasting in the Algarve, to exploring a private collection of Louis Vuitton suitcases in Amsterdam, these experiences enable our guests to immerse themselves in the local culture in an unforgettable way. Since last year, we have sold more than 450 experiences across our hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Q: Are your guests looking for different things than, say, five years ago?

A: Our guests have an increasing desire to personalise their stay.  In some of our hotels — for example, Conrad London St. James — we have Mandarin-speaking staff especially for our Chinese guests, as well as traditional Chinese breakfast dishes and tea to make them feel welcome and at home. Another great example is when our guests check in to Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, they can choose their own personal fragrance to be sprayed in their room during turndown service.

Our loyalty programme, Hilton Honors, also enables us to build more personalised relationships with guests to ensure that their preferences and how they like to travel are consistent every time they stay with us, including the ability to check in and select their own room from our app. Plus, with more ways to spend Honors Points than ever before — whether you have a passion for learning how to make homemade pasta in Venice or watching The Chainsmokers in Miami — we are offering our guests more ways to make their next trip truly unforgettable and as unique as they are!

Q: Can luxury and sustainability go hand in hand?

A: Luxury hotels need to be inherently responsible; changes in the hospitality industry reflect trends in luxury travel. Travellers are increasingly responsible when they travel and seek brands that reflect their values.

Through our Travel with Purpose platform, Hilton has committed to cutting its environmental footprint in half and doubling its social impact investment by 2030 — becoming the first major hotel company to institute science-based targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Having already removed plastic straws from managed properties, our goals include reducing water consumption and produced waste by 50% and expanding our existing soap recycling programme to all hotels and sending zero soap to landfill. Guests can also expect to see more sustainable food items on menus as we look to expand our sustainable sourcing of meat, poultry and seafood.

To give you a flavour of some of the great initiatives that are already underway at our hotels, the newly opened Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi produces its own still and sparkling water on site. Mindful of global food waste, Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri turns leftover bread into beer. And our luxury hotels in Rome, Edinburgh and Amsterdam recycle used bars of soap into brand new ones through our partnership with Clean the World. In Egypt, Conrad Cairo recycles soap and distributes it to local communities in need.

Q: What do you think makes a great hotel?

A: For me, it’s a combination of things. Aside from the obvious factors such as great design, location and of course, fantastic F&B, the magic is often in the small details – the unexpected service or personal touches, like choosing your own scent or taking a complimentary bike to ride around the city, at the recommendation of your waiter at dinner. We are in the business of people serving people and it’s the human connections with our guests that often leave the longest lasting memories.  

Q: What’s the best thing about your job?

A: I get to eat in amazing restaurants and travel to some of the most incredible hotels on the planet, alongside getting to work with some of the most talented Team Members in the business. What could be better than that?

Q: What would you be in another life?

A: I’d be a chef.

Q: Tell us a secret!

A: Sometimes I love to wander around the empty hotel kitchens before service, when they are still and peaceful! For me they are a temple to food!