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Wealth, Luxury and Poverty in America: How Should Media Cover These Stories?

Pierre Gervois, recording The Face of America interview series in New York City, Sept 2018- Photo by EFDLT Studio

Pierre Gervois, Producer of “The Face of America” interview series. (Photo: EFDLT Studio)

For the past thirteen years, I have worked as a media entrepreneur and producer, serving the luxury industry in Paris, Shanghai and New York City, producing luxury digital publications for the very affluent Chinese global traveler. I have managed international teams of marketers, editors, bloggers, photographers and community managers to build successful communications campaigns in more than twenty countries for a variety of clients, private and governmental organizations, willing to attract High Net Worth Chinese travelers to their country, region or hotel.

I have met outstanding individuals in the luxury goods and luxury travel industry, incredibly skilled artisans who are making beautiful objects with their hands and heart, innovative entrepreneurs who are breaking the rules and reinventing luxury, and countless hotel executives who warmly welcome their guests in the new generation of boutique hotels.

I have learned to understand the new generation of affluent Chinese outbound tourists, what they really wanted (vs what the travel industry assumed they want to do), and how they felt routinely disrespected in Europe or in America, dismissed as second-class travelers by the luxury travel and hospitality industry.

I published several luxury lifestyle and travel magazines in Shanghai and New York City (including the acclaimed STC magazine) and featured more than five hundred luxury lifestyle stories, working with very talented journalists, and in particular Elaine Ke, Managing Editor of the STC magazine.

I have given speeches and lectures about international luxury travel marketing at Universities and at corporate events and always felt grateful for the opportunity to exchange ideas with students and fellow professionals.

It has been a rich professional and personal experience. Thank you to all of the wonderful people I have met over these years, from the clients who trusted me to the great individuals who composed my team, and without whom I would not have achieved such successes.

I have lived in New York City for the past five years, and now consider it my true hometown. NYC is by far my favorite city in the World, for one reason: the entire world meets here, in this city created and run by immigrants, bringing their ideas, cultures, languages and foods in this happy melting pot.

As the Founder and Publisher of Gervois magazine, I have seen wealthy individuals buying very expensive jewelry, watches, apartments, as a result of the marketing campaigns my company has created and it’s a good thing: that means more jobs in the jewelry, watchmaking, retail, and real estate, and potentially more money for philanthropic causes.

I have also seen hard working Americans with not enough money to feed their families, dads and moms without a job having a hard time to come back home and face their children, individuals discriminated for their race, gender or sexual orientation, and courageous immigrants -from China and all over the World- struggling to fully embrace the American dream.

I know we are, as business professionals and entrepreneurs, supposed to remove our emotions out of the equation and always think in terms of return on investment, business credibility, and project an emotionless and politically correct image of ourselves. This is specially true in the luxury industry where talking about social issues, hunger, poverty or racial discrimination is largely taboo.

I cannot change the World alone, and there are in New York City hundreds of very talented and very experienced philanthropists, activists, social entrepreneurs and dedicated elected officials.

As a privileged media entrepreneur fully conscious of my privilege, I decided that the best course of action for me, although modest and certainly limited in scope, was to help to create awareness about issues that really matter to me.

One year ago, our production company launched an indie, experimental YouTube channel Legit News based out of our Brooklyn studio. The first program we created was named The Face of America, an interview series.

Since October 2017, I had the pleasure to interview outstanding individuals from diverse backgrounds, who came to our recording studio to tell their own stories and share with us how they were working to make America a better place, one small step at a time.

We have explored multiple aspects of American society: social discriminations, race relations, LGBTQ issues, 2nd amendment, poverty, religious issues and women’s empowerment.

This interview series has changed me profoundly.

What I never told to the first persons I have interviewed is that I have no formal training in hard news journalism, and no experience in interviewing people. I was really scared when the camera was rolling and I had to conduct the interview. I was also ashamed of my strong foreign accent, and having sometimes to repeat questions as they were formulated in my imperfect English. (Most of my English vocabulary revolves around the luxury world, and I’m poorly linguistically equipped to talk about complex social issues).

I want to thank all the persons I have interviewed. They opened their heart, trusted me, and frequently went well beyond the context of a formal ten minutes interview. I felt sometimes I was not supposed to witness the incredibly intimate stories they were sharing with me, drifting away from the main topic of the interview.

I remain a proud media entrepreneur working in the luxury industry.

And I’m even prouder of sharing inspiring stories in The Face of America.

Pierre Gervois

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What American luxury hotels should do in 2018 to stay relevant

Hotel-Ella-Gervois-RatingHow to define the new trends in luxury travel? A new generation of wealthy individuals is evolving the concept of luxury travel. Luxury hotel marketing strategies must stay aligned with their customer base and think “outside the suite.”
Filip Boyen, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, comments: “Luxury travel used to be all about visiting certain destinations, being seen in the right place by the right people, and generally enjoying the high life in a more ostentatious manner, all while getting the exact same experience as everyone else. Luxury hotels reflected this, they were grand and provided people with a platform to enjoy themselves.”

A recent shift away from the hotel stay and towards the actual experience itself has caused luxury hotel marketing strategies to evolve quickly to meet the needs and expectations of their wealthy clientele.
Philippe Brown, founder at bespoke travel planners Brown and Hudson, explains, “With ideas like ‘Luxpedition’ we make challenging grand expeditions to the world’s most remote corners accessible to people who might otherwise be put off by arduous conditions. This has opened up a whole new market of mid-life crisis sufferers who would like to be Bear Grylls but want their comforts and moments of specific luxury.”
How then can the concept of luxury hotel marketing be adjusted accordingly to capture a market that still wants the luxury but also wants the unique experience too? The answer lies in staying true to the key luxury brand values of authenticity and quality, while also adding in the experience element as part of the holistic package.

Pierre Gervois, Founder of Gervois Hotel Rating, the New York based luxury hotel rating system for U.S. hotels added “ The new generation of wealthy travelers and guests are not like their parents, who were attracted by flashy hotels made to display the arrival in a new social status, but now are attentive to sophistication, refinement, and all the discreet details and signs of recognition of the new elite”

Albert Herrera, SVP of Global Product Partnerships at Virtuoso, says, “Authenticity has become a buzzword. It really does reflect the current trend of giving the guest something that is unique to that particular destination. Hotels started down the path of authenticity by offering a greater sense of place, especially with new builds. First it was apparent in the architecture and design, then with the furnishings and styling. From there, the concept has expanded to fully integrate local customs and cuisine, and provide the ability to fully explore or celebrate the culture.”
Herrera comments: “Hotels have done a great job of developing and partnering with their local communities to create experiences that highlight the destination. Whether it’s a morning run with the General Manager, sourcing the fresh catch of the day with the executive chef or even being an English teacher for a day to local schoolchildren, ‘living like a local’ is a trend that will continue.”
Another key feature of luxury hotel marketing is offering the ability to totally switch off from everyday life. Being immersed in a local culture and experiencing that life is one way to do this, but offering an out of this world experience is another.

Brown says: “We are regularly approached by clients who want to join our missions to explore the wreck of the Titanic and others looking to invest in a longer stay at the International Space Station, or to do something shorter with Virgin Galactic or with some of the other more interesting options.” Here the role of luxury hotel marketing is to offer the accommodation that supports the experience, maintaining the luxury while supporting the immersive element.
Personalization adds a great deal to this ethos. Today’s guests want their hotels to respond to them in a personalized and tailored way; they want to be recognized as an individual.

Gervois explains: “One of the issues in luxury hospitality in the last twenty years was the arrogance of staff, and the discriminatory practices on race, nationality, religion or gender identity, that went largely out of scrutiny and were tolerated by luxury hotel groups”.
“These unacceptable practices slowly start to be addressed, but we hear oftenly complaints from travelers who feel discriminated in the luxury hotel segment, and Gervois Hotel Rating fights to improve this issue with the industry.”, Gervois added.
However, this point applies both ways. Luxury hotel marketing should also take into consideration how the personality of the owners, management, and their staff contributes to the overall feel and experience of the hotel. This ties in well with the desire for authenticity and having a real experience.
Boyen explains: “Hotels are becoming more aware that their offerings need to go beyond that of the suites, butler, concierge – the hardware. Hotels just need to be themselves. They need to be mindful of the things that make them interesting to guests – be it their location, history, owner or vision – and not try to conform to fit in with any expectations of what a luxury hotel ‘should’ be.”
Ultimately, the way a wealthy traveller defines their ideal experience remains highly personal. Accordingly, best practice for today’s luxury hotel marketing experts is to leverage market research on their target clientele, as well as individual research on high-spending VIP guests, in order to understand their preferences and create a memorable experience–  both inside and outside the suite.

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Pierre Gervois will speak at the UNFOLD BRICS luxury hospitality event in Dubai on March 20th, 2018

Conjoining the world of Art with Architecture and Culture, UNFOLD Art XChange entices the world’s premier private bankers, financial institutions, government authorities, public art agencies, spatial designers, real estate and hospitality professionals with insights, opportunities and new partnerships as well as attracts corporate collectors, Pierre Gervois - UNFOLD BRICS - Dubai March 20, 2018private and public institutions worldwide through a series of Art Talks that will run from the 19th to 22nd of March to coincide with Dubai Art Week.

Pierre Gervois, Founder and President of Gervois Hotel Rating, the disruptive hotel rating system that makes Forbes stars and AAA diamonds look old fashioned and tacky, will deliver a speech about the importance of re-assessing the standards of hotel rating, in particular for the new generation of sophisticated travelers who are not impressed anymore by the mere lobby’s size or a 24h room service, but rather by elegance in decoration, truly warm service, and sustainability.

Currently rating 120 U.S. properties, highly curated and selected for the quality of their interior decoration and service, Gervois Hotel Rating is the new player in the hotel rating system field that has gone unchallenged for the past 50 years.

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GERVOIS magazine now distributed to wealthy Chinese travelers members of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club

Wealthy Chinese travelers place the United States as their #1 travel & real estate investment destination.

GERVOIS magazine, a New York City based magazine, has been selected to be the new preferred global travel publication of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club, and is now distributed to its members.

Shanghai Travelers' Club - Gervois partnership announcement March 1st, 2018

GERVOIS magazine is proud to follow the steps of the iconic STC magazine, the Club’s own iconic travel magazine that has been published from 2008 to 2017.

Founded in Shanghai in 2008, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club is China’s most exclusive international luxury travel club for discerning Chinese global entrepreneurs and executives seeking experiential & authentic travel discoveries.

Its 12,000+ members have an average annual income of US$580K, travel overseas on average four times per year, and spend on average US$63,500 per year during their travels. 23% of them have invested in real estate internationally. Excluding their real estate investment abroad, they collectively spend & invest more than US$700M per year in travel related expenses.

As the vast majority of Chinese high net worth individuals who travel frequently overseas is now speaking Engligh fluently, the Shanghai Travelers’ Club members felt the need to partner with an English language luxury travel magazine.

The club has selected GERVOIS magazine for its acclaimed editorial content, featuring exceptional hotels, men’s fashion styling ideas, art investment, real estate investment, and their iconic travel photoshoots made by the New York based famous travel photographer EFDLT studio, Director of Photography.

Starting with the Spring 2018 issue, released on March 16th, GERVOIS magazine will proudly partner for the years to come with the Shanghai Travelers’ Club and invite its Chinese members to travel and discover the United States and the World in style.

More informations about GERVOIS magazine:
http://www.gervoisrating.com/shanghai-travelers-club/

More informations about EFDLT studio, Director of Photography:

http://www.efdltstudio.com/

https://www.instagram.com/efdltstudio/

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The Broadmoor hotel (CO), still rated #1 U.S. hotel by the just released influential Gervois Hotel Ratings 2018

Guest at the Plaza Hotel, NYC - Gervois Rating 2018 - EFDLT StudioThe Gervois rating system is a hotel rating system created in 2016 by Pierre Gervois, the Founder of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club and frequent traveler in the United States. As Pierre has a following of wealthy Chinese travelers who trust him to choose their luxury holidays in the United States, no doubt the release of the 2018 Gervois Hotel Rating has more impact than the Forbes ratings for the Chinese Elite.

“Over the years, I have been disappointed by the numerous existing hotel rating systems” said Pierre Gervois. “Too often, there is a tendency to give too generous ratings to hotels members of luxury hotels chains, and to underrate independent boutique hotels”, he added.

Based on these facts, Pierre Gervois has created an entirely new hotel rating system, purely based on the sole merits of each property, considered alone, regardless of its association to a hotel chain, an affiliation program, other rating systems, or online reviews. Every hotel is rated professionally and independently, without any preconception about the property.

With 117 rated properties (33 new properties have joined in 2018 the prestigious ranks of the Gervois rated properties), this year’s ratings put a focus on the traveler’s experience rather than on old fashioned luxury.

The Broadmoor (Colorado Springs) is still #1 hotel, with 93pts, in recognition of the exceptional quality of service and dining, both unmatched at this level in any other property.

Four hotels make a remarked entry in the 2018 Gervois ratings with above 90pts ratings: The Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia (91pts), the Langham Boston (90pts), The Blackstone Chicago (90pts) and the Montana Paws-Up Ranch (90pts).Gervois Hotel Rating 2018 website screenshot

Independent properties with an incredible charm and authenticity make also the cut for the 2018 ratings. Amongst our favorites are Inn at Cuckolds Lighthouse (89pts), The High Lonesome Ranch (88pts), El Cosmico (87pts), Pioneertown Motel (86pts), and Casa Hudson (84pts).

As the Gervois Hotel Ratings are famous for their blunt and brutally honest ratings, some hotels get searing and hilarious reviews in 2018, in particular for uninspired decoration and failed interior design.

But on a more serious side, some high end hotels are reminded that disrespectful or discriminatory behavior with guests -Chinese or not- is unacceptable and must be quickly corrected through appropriate staff training.

For hoteliers, receiving the reviews like “The service is cold and sometimes condescending with guests who do not look affluent enough to the taste of the hotel’s employees” or “The training of the front desk staff should be seriously improved as the customer service sometimes reaches unacceptably low levels” must definitely trigger additional staff training sessions…

“Gervois Hotel Rating is on the discerning, multicultural and sophisticated traveler’s side, not on the hotel booking business’ side” concluded Mr Gervois.

The Gervois Hotel Rating rate hotels according to five essential criteria: Location, Building, Atmosphere, Dining and Service, each rated on a 20 points scale. The addition of the points give the final rating, on a 100 points scale.

The 2018 Gervois Hotel Ratings are available on www.gervoisrating.com

Also available on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GervoisRating
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gervoisrating/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GervoisHotelRating/

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U.S. Hotels & destinations should now communicate in English with Millennial Chinese Travelers

Chinese Millennial Traveler - Gervois magazineThey speak English now (Just in case you didn’t notice).

They are the millennial Chinese travelers in the United States.

They are the Chinese tourists coming to discover the United States of America and to buy high quality Made in USA products.

They are the Chinese businessmen and businesswomen coming to invest in American companies and create U.S. jobs.

They are the smart Chinese millennial entrepreneurs coming to America to create start ups and contribute to America’s leadership in future technologies.

They are the Chinese guests fed up to be disrespected in luxury hotels when asking if they really can afford to pay for a suite when they ask for one and are offered first the cheapest room available.

They are the Chinese businessmen walking into a bespoke suit company in New York City and asking for a hand made in America suit because they also deserve to wear the finest clothes. (No, they are not only interested in “I Love NY” Made in China T-shirts)

They are the Chinese travelers annoyed to be depicted by U.S. marketing agencies as using only Chinese social media networks such as Weibo and WeChat, when they are actually using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with their U.S. friends and freely discover the world.

They are the tourists who have spent $40Billion in the U.S. in 2016

They are the LGBTQ+ Chinese travelers wanting to be as respected as any other tourist and find safe places to just be who they are.

They are the Chinese shoppers who find utterly ridiculous when Western luxury brands add a dragon or a Chinese symbol on a watch or a handbag and expect that they’ll specifically want to buy this model.

They are the Chinese tourists who are grateful for the warm welcome they have received by American people when they were doing horseback riding or cowboy shooting. (Yes, they are not only obsessed by shopping in large shopping malls but want to discover the various aspects of America’s culture and heritage).

They are the Chinese travelers who are proud of their Chinese cultural heritage and Chinese language, but who also speak English and prefer to read in English original stories about the United States.

They are the Chinese travelers who are fluent in English and understand exactly what some people say about them when they are traveling overseas.

Actually, they are exactly the same as any other traveler in America.

By Pierre Gervois, Founder of Gervois Hotel Rating, Publisher of Gervois Magazine, Hospitality & tourism keynote speaker and expert about marketing to outbound Chinese tourists.

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Gervois Hotel Rating releases today its 2017 ratings of the finest hotels in the United States

Gervois Rating Launch March 2017The Gervois rating system is a new hotel rating system created by Pierre Gervois, a NYC based media entrepreneur, Publisher of the iconic luxury travel STC magazine. Pierre Gervois has an extensive experience in luxury hotels and has reviewed countless properties all around the world for the last twenty years.

“Over the years, I have been disappointed by the numerous existing hotel rating systems” said Pierre Gervois. “Too often, there is a tendency to give too generous ratings to hotels members of luxury hotels chains, and to underrate independent boutique hotels”, he added.

Based on these facts, Pierre Gervois created an entirely new hotel rating system, purely based on the sole merits of each property, considered alone, regardless of its association to a hotel chain, an affiliation program, other rating systems, or online reviews. Every hotel is rated professionally and independently, without any preconception about the property.

“Most of existing hotel rating & reviewing systems are produced by companies having a direct financial interest in bookings from the hotels they are rating, hence overly positive ratings and an inflation of stars, diamonds, laurels, gold medals and awards that do not always reflect the reality” added Pierre Gervois.

In order to achieve a complete independence from the hospitality industry, Gervois Hotel Rating do not receive any advertising revenues or commissions on rooms bookings from hotels, hotels chains or online travel agencies.

“Gervois Hotel Rating is on the discerning traveler’s side, not on the hotel booking business’ side” concluded Mr Gervois.

The Gervois Hotel Rating rate hotels according to five essential criteria: Location, Building, Atmosphere, Dining and Service, each rated on a 20 points scale. The addition of the points give the final rating, on a 100 points scale.

This rating system allows a greater precision and flexibility in the complex task of rating a hotel that might have many highlights but also some flaws that need to be clearly designated for a transparent information.

84 U.S. properties have been curated and rated over a one year process, through inspections carefully conducted by a small group of international frequent travelers, all reviewed and validated by Pierre Gervois.

“Chinese travelers are incredibly discerning now, and we’ll soon launch a Chinese Mandarin version of our ratings”concluded Mr Gervois.

The 2017 Gervois Hotel Ratings are available on http://www.gervoisrating.com

Also available on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GervoisRating
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gervoisrating/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/GervoisRating/

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