For once in my professional life, I can’t help but smile when I see a squiggly line appear underneath a word that I’ve typed into a Microsoft document.
“Destinationaire” has not yet been recognised by the built-in Spell Check on Word; but make no mistake, it’s a term that’ll take the hospitality industry by storm in the (very near) future. Settle down with a cappuccino whilst I explain exactly why.
The creative brain behind this concept, Wil Slickers, defines a Destinationaire as “a person who is wired to create remarkable experiences for others to anticipate and share”. Slickers is a worldwide podcast host and co-founder of StayLux, a rising short-term rental business in the US. As far as hospitality goes, this is certainly a professional whom you’ll want to take your hat off to.
We often claim that the most profound ideas derive from simplicity. In fact, even Einstein said that a genius is marked by one’s ability to “make the complex simple”. Such is the case with the concept of a Destinationaire. On the surface, the term is served with a rather straight-forward definition; but when you delve deeper, you’ll find that Slickers’ invention is more so a movement, which has the potential to transform how we practice hospitality, for the better.
At its core, the art of becoming a Destinationaire means that you successfully turn any regional location into destination tourism. And if we truly think about it, what is “destination tourism”, anyway? Who decides which part of which country qualifies as a holiday destination; and what standards and features is this even measured against? With this in mind, Slickers has quite aptly argued that “Surely, any place can be a destination?” – Does one really need to climb till the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to claim that they’ve experienced a destination holiday?
The Destinationaire philosophy reminds us that a hospitality professional is first and foremost, an experience provider. Regardless of the size or location of any business, it is “making memories” that should be prioritised for guests, because this is what will keep them returning; and most importantly, ensures that our industry – as we know it – survives, and thrives.
We’re talking far beyond announcements of “refurbishment plans” on a STR business’s website. Don’t get me wrong, whilst these things do still hold relevance, the art of becoming a Destinationaire (as Slickers explains) requires ongoing creativity, communication, and an incontestable desire to please your guests.
Slickers’ cleverly outlines the three “main things” that all Destinationaires should strive towards, in order to be successful. You can read more about his advice on Creating, Finding a Gap, and the importance of Storytelling in his brilliant piece, here: becoming a destinationaire
Over the weeks, the more I have read about Slickers’ work on Destinationaires, the more I’ve realised how it sums up everything that we as hospitality professionals believe in. Consider the importance of purpose-driven brands, of experiential hospitality (and marketing), and the age-old beauty of storytelling. A Destinationaire not only understands this, but executes all these things; and instils the magic which perhaps we thought we’d recently lost, within the hospitality industry.
In-light of the current pandemic, we can all agree that guests are more susceptible to experiences and are yearning to create those eternal memories, more than ever before. During these extraordinary times, I can’t help but think that it’ll be a Destinationaire’s ability to tell stories, which will ultimately “make something out of nothing”, as Slickers very often preaches.
Storytelling is a universal language. In many ways, it is central to human existence, and for hospitality professionals, it is a means of connecting with guests, long before they have even entered a premises. If a Destinationaire enables shares values, desires, and emotions (between them and their consumers) through the art of storytelling, then they have already fulfilled a large part of their duty.
When this story is “followed through” during a guest’s live experience at a resort, serviced accommodation, or family B&B, via things like standards of service and the “little things”, like a complimentary take-home photograph beside a humble fireplace, then that experience immediately transforms into a destination holiday.
In any scenario, people remember how they’re made to feel, above anything else. This lends in the favour of our industry’s exceptional Destinationaires, who will go beyond what is normally “expected” of them, and exceed themselves in creative and selfless ways.
That’s their story. And that’s the story we need to write about, every day.
Find out more about Will Slickers and his work on Destinationaires, here: slicktalkthepodcast.com
Do you already know an incredible, hospitality Destinationaire? Find out more about Will Slickers’ Destinationaire Awards, here: destinationaire award
Neely Khan, Hospitality Writer, Storyteller, and MD of Neely There