Five Minutes With: Vice president brand management, Fairmont
Sharon Cohen sheds light on her path into hospitality, what sets Fairmont apart in the industry and the brand’s plans 25 years in the future
Fairmont vice president brand management, Sharon Cohen has worked in the industry for more than 25 years in a range of departments, hotel groups and positions. Sitting down with Hotelier Middle East, she tells us how Fairmont has been performing and how she thinks it will perform moving forward.
Describe your path into hospitality
Hotels have always fascinated me from a young age. When others dreamt of developing into established professions like medicine or business, my dream was to work within the hotel industry. Today, after 25 years in the industry, I have worked across a broad span of roles in a range of regions and disciplines including operations, sales & marketing and now brand management.
How does Fairmont differentiate itself from other luxury properties in the region?
Our famously grand iconic hotels are never cookie-cutter, each with deep roots in their local communities. It’s why we have always been the place where the locals gather and where milestones are celebrated.
Our buildings are always awe-inspiring but it’s our people that really gives our hotels heart and soul. We have a structured interview process that ensures each Fairmont colleague has within them that special spirit and passion that makes up our cultural DNA.
Each hotel reflects the destination’s enduring spirit reflecting the locale’s energy, culture and storied past through regionally inspired cuisine, lively bars and lounges, and distinctive design and décor.
Are loyalty programmes an effective way to drive revenue?
In luxury, relationships go beyond the transactional; and so the tools required to effectively leverage opportunities must be sophisticated in data collection, management and execution. With Accor’s loyalty program, ALL - Accor Live Limitless, we have access to the tools which allow us to leverage the data being collected. This gives us key opportunities to make our guests feel cherished, warmly welcomed and to thoughtfully add elements to their journey with us that are meaningful to them as individuals.
How do you feel Fairmont has performed over the past year?
We have the strongest pipeline for future growth in 25 years, which comes down to the fact that Fairmont is perceived as not only an iconic brand, but one that continues to build the icons of the future.
What are your targets and expectations for next year?
The next year will continue to see brand evolution through programs that connect with our local communities and invite them to join us in celebration of next-generation talent; as we have been doing with our partnership with the Montreux Jazz Festival. Furthermore, as a leader in environmental stewardship, we will continue to evolve our role as pioneers in this area launching a new social and environmental program that supports Accor's global stewardship program, with Fairmont being a brand that strongly builds on this.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the regional hospitality market?
We cannot deny that the current global hospitality industry is not at its best place. Nonetheless, the MEA market is one that holds great potential for us, not only from a domestic travel perspective, but also from an outbound market. We have 11 new openings over the next few years in progress and I strongly believe these will continue to support our brand awareness and brand love across this momentous region