Telum Talks To: Luann Alphonso, Director of Communications, Capella Hotel Group

Telum Talks To: Luann Alphonso, Director of Communications, Capella Hotel Group

In a world where an increased access to travel is met with the need to protect our planet, developing effective communications practices in the travel and tourism industry has never been more crucial.

Telum spoke with Luann Alphonso, the Director of Communications at Capella Hotel Group in Singapore, about her teams and the communications work done to encourage sustainable travel practices amongst their stakeholders.

Tourism and travel have changed significantly since the global pandemic. How has Capella evolved its communication strategies to meet the changing needs of travelers?
The global pandemic indeed reshaped the travel landscape, and Capella Hotel Group's approach has centred on flexibility, transparency, and a heightened emphasis on personalised exploration.

We've adopted a more agile content strategy that allows us to pivot swiftly in response to changing travel needs, guest offerings and preferences. We launched the Patina brand in the midst of the pandemic which provided a great challenge to the team to remain constantly reactive to current market shifts. This included regularly updated online content, real-time social media engagement, and personalised email communications to provide guests with the latest information and options. 

Even though the pandemic is behind us, health and safety remain our paramount concern, and we highlight our commitment to maintaining a safe environment in all our properties, reassuring guests that their wellbeing is our top priority.

Travellers today seek personalised experiences more than ever. Our communication now extends to pre-trip customisation, allowing guests to tailor their experiences. Our Capella Culturists embody the role of a local friend or tour guide and serve as ambassadors of the brand. They ensure that our guests’ stay is not only safe but filled with tastes of the local community culture.  

How does Capella's comms team encourage your stakeholders to engage in sustainable tourism?
As a group, we consider sustainable tourism a shared responsibility and an integral part of our communications strategy. In order to communicate Patina Maldives' commitment to sustainability, we use powerful storytelling.

Stories such as the recent Hawksbill turtle hatchlings on Patina demonstrate the importance of protecting biodiversity. Roots, our signature plant-based restaurant, offers a distinctive dining experience while minimising food waste and carbon footprints. Regular beach clean-ups on Bird Island include guests and employees in protecting the environment.

Our commitment to eco-friendly practises can also be seen in our use of sustainable architecture and design. Capella has partnered with SolarBuddy, which provides a safe source of light to youth in underprivileged communities in Asia. Guests can contribute to this effort via our website.

All of these stories engage our stakeholders on an emotional level and encourage them to take an active role in responsible and sustainable travel experiences.

Metrics and development updates on our environmental initiatives are routinely shared because building trust with stakeholders through transparency is crucial.

It is also important that we collect feedback from our stakeholders on our sustainability initiatives to help us refine our strategies.

What is the most crucial skill for a communications professional to develop today?
In my opinion, adaptability. The digital landscape evolves so quickly, and it is important to leverage all of the new platforms to reach your audience and communicate effectively.

Being able to navigate crises is vital, given the reactiveness of social media and the global media landscape in general. What's underrated is data analysis for campaign impact measurement which allows for the realignment of strategies if a campaign is underperforming.

Cultural competence and being aware of the sensitivities in diverse cultures and their nuances helps immensely with effective messaging and hones your storytelling chops. Compelling narratives help connect your brand with relevant audiences on both an emotional and intellectual level, which is gold when your industry is all about creating experiences. 

By focusing on adaptability and continuously honing these skills, communication professionals can navigate the complex and rapidly changing PR landscape effectively, driving meaningful results for their organisations.

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