2023 physical visionary awards

A Tale of Teamwork: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group & Valtech

What started out as a comprehensive website redesign turned into a vibrant and award-worthy partnership.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor, Hotels
escobar
Marilyn Tabet and Lori Esposito at HTF 2023
Marilyn Tabet and Lori Esposito at HTF 2023

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (MOHG) and Valtech originally began working together to replatform MOHG’s website in 2021. But as both brands delved deeper into the project’s goals, they recognized that there was a need for a much more comprehensive website redesign.

“MOHG’s openness to our suggestions and feedback early on in our relationship signaled that we had found a true partner and collaborator in this venture,” said Lori Esposito, VP, Head of Client Services, Valtech. “Their eagerness to engage in a constructive dialogue and their genuine enthusiasm for exploring creative ideas made it evident that we were about to embark on a unique journey. It was this spirit of collaboration that inspired us to dive into a comprehensive website redesign, working hand in hand to create a digital platform that would truly reflect their vision and aspirations. This partnership has since proved to be a rewarding and transformative experience for both parties, a testament to the power of effective collaboration in achieving outstanding results.”

“After investing in Valtech, we quickly realized their knowledge and expertise exceeded the competition and they were truly the perfect fit,” explains Marilyn Tabet, Director, Digital Experience, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. “Valtech quickly diagnosed where we were sitting in the digital landscape not only within hospitality, but also among other successful technologically savvy companies. They put in place a clear strategy, plan and timeline of where we needed to go and also explained how they planned to help us achieve such a monumental goal. Along the journey, we encountered obstacles that we tackled together – through flexibility, adaptability & trust – developing the resilient bond and true partnership we have today.”

Pillars of Success

Looking back on their relationship, Esposito and Tabet say there were more than a dozen reasons why the two brands were able to work well together and accomplish great things. Here are just a few:

Clear Communication: Early on, both brands established clear channels for sharing feedback, updates, and concerns. They held meetings regularly, both formal and informal, to ensure everyone was on the same page. A clear escalation process was identified, and Valtech always had direct line of access to key stakeholders.

Shared Goals and Vision: MOHG had a clear vision which Valtech aligned around, and which acted as its north star throughout the project. Valtech also ran measurement strategy sessions early on that allowed it to identify and align key business objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and benchmarks. In doing so, Valtech ensured both brands were working towards the same outcomes. The companies also review and update the outputs from those sessions regularly, and they continue to serve as the foundation for this partnership.

Deep Understanding of the Problem and User-Centric Approach: Valtech knew it was important to guide guests through a customer-centric and frictionless digital experience. To better understand how it could create that experience, Valtech interviewed MOHG general managers, concierges, F&B teams and front desk staff so as to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of the brand’s day-to-day operational realities and challenges. Valtech also interviewed travelers to learn more about guest behaviors, expectations, preferences and pain points.

Collaborative Ideation: Between COVID and a globally distributed team, it was important for Valtech and MOHG to quickly adopt virtual brainstorm sessions and workshops. Early on, the companies began using Miro boards to co-create ideas which led to innovative solutions. For example, they held a workshop using a consensus-based, gamified technique (Planning Poker in Miro) to collaboratively flesh out ideas and prioritize them.

Flexibility and Adaptability: This project spanned 2 years, during which a new CCO came onboard with a fresh perspective, workstreams changed, and team members came and went. This required that both teams be open to adjusting strategies as needed.

Empathy and Trust: Trust is the foundation of this partnership. Both MOHG and Valtech have always exhibited extreme transparency. MOHG trusts our agency's expertise and treats Valtech as an extension of their team. In turn, Valtech empathizes with MOHG’s business goals and challenges. This mutual trust fosters a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

Measurable Outcomes: KPIs were established at the outset, and throughout the project, both companies worked together to track progress and measure impact via regular reporting and data-driven decision-making. The new digital experience was a business success, with numbers from the relaunch showing year-over-year increases in organic traffic (90.8%), unique visitors (17%), and revenue (62%).

Respectful Dialogue: Both the Valtech and MOHG teams consistently showed the utmost respect for each other by always actively listening to each other's perspectives. This dialogue fostered an environment where ideas could be shared without fear of reprisal.

“This unique partnership with MOHG, where we operated as one cohesive team, fundamentally transformed the process of implementing the enhanced website,” Esposito explained. “MOHG never treated Valtech as a vendor, but as a trusted partner, which led to a deeper understanding of each other's needs and expectations.”

 

Take a listen to the 20 minute video below, where Lori Esposito, VP, Head of Client Services, Valtech and Marilyn Tabet, Director, Digital Experience, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group talk more in depth about their award-winning relationship at Hotel Technology Forum 2023!

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