During the HOW festival in Opatija, our interlocutor was David James Taylor. He is the CEO of the Adriatic Luxury Hotels chain and has been in Dubrovnik for the past few years. His career is inspiring and he has more than 30 years of experience in international hotel companies. Before working in the hotel industry, he worked in the media industry and advertising.
You can read how he changed his profession, how much his work affects the hotel’s business and what he does in his free time in the interview.
”Small amount, otherwise it will take a very long time. I’ve been in the hotel industry for 32 years. I’ve had a career with global brands, national brands, large PLC’s, private equity-owned businesses and now work at ALH in Dubrovnik in Croatia and have been there for the last three years.”
“There’s a chance meeting with the owner. I met him in Zagreb. We started to talk about the opportunity to come to Dubrovnik. Something that I’d never considered before in the past, but the project with LH excited me and we progressed further and then I made the decision to move.”
“It was a fluke, an accident. I used to work in the media industry and advertising, and I met somebody who was working for a hotel. They were looking for someone to work in a 747 bedroom hotel in London. And I went for an interview and met a director there and he said, OK, what’s the difference between what you do now and what we do? I said, I’m responsible for selling space in magazines and books and the customer can’t see it until it comes out, whereas here they can see it, touch it, smell it, taste it and that surely must be so much better. And he liked that angle.”
“We train people very well. I think we spend a lot of money on investing in people and we make sure that our team are exposed to different cultures, different places, different practices, and they bring that knowledge back into the business and can then help develop other people. We want people to know that they have a career with ALH rather than just a job. We want them to know that we’re taking care of them, that we have their best intentions at heart.”
“We have worked with Bureau Veritas for some years now and they help us maintain the standards on all of our ISO certifications and, as we knew, that COVID was beginning. So Bureau Veritas very kindly helped us develop a management program that we were able to install across all of our hotels that really makes sure that we look after not just guests, but employees, to make sure that they’re safe from all sorts of biohazards. And it works extremely well for us. We’re very happy about it.”
“It’s quite a big effect because with COVID you’ll know that many of the airlines were grounded and couldn’t fly for a long time, so that hit our business very hard and we had to be very creative about how we managed in a world where there were almost no visitors to the city. And I’m hoping now that Pelješki Most is open that we’ll start to see different sources of customers who are driving to Dubrovnik again. But yes, we’re still dependent on the airport to a high degree. We hope they continue to expand their international routes to make sure that Dubrovnik is recognized all over the world to attract guests.”
“I think Dubrovnik satisfies the luxury market quite well at the moment. There is a really good mix of five-star high quality properties and those properties are very attractive across the world and they have fairly high demand. And this is one of the reasons why an ALH are investing in luxury and making sure that we have the highest standards for the most demanding and discerning guests. And we’ve recently completed a project with Hotel Supetar where we’ve invested heavily in that hotel to transform it from a three-star hotel to a five-star luxury boutique hotel. So we’re really committed to the luxury sector around and I think we understand it really well. So yes, there is room for further growth. I think you know we would like to diversify beyond Dubrovnik for the right asset in the right place, but it has to be in the luxury sector because that’s what we’re good at.”
“I would say something very simple, like it’s all a role in life. And our mission is to make sure that we provide the most memorable experience and the most perfect stay for all of our guests and that our staff are perfectly trained in order to be able to do that confidently and that we also have a place in the local community. We have a responsibility to be part of Dubrovnik and to work with Dubrovnik as a destination.”
“I think this revolves around the culture of the organization. So, from the very beginning of arriving in Dubrovnik, I’ve been very transparent with everybody in the business. I think I’m an open communicator. I talk to many people right across the business to try and understand what they do well and what they don’t do so well. And there’s a Chinese proverb which is „The fish rots from the head down.“ So, you know, I really believe there’s something in there. I think if leadership is open and communicates well and looks after our staff and our guests in the right way, that radiates right through the company.”
“You know, I love everything about Croatia. I love the food, the wine and I like to see Croatia and tour around at weekends and experience the best of Croatia while I’m fortunate enough to be here. If you spoke to any of my friends they would say he’s football crazy. So you know, I’m now caught in this wonderful position of being first of all a Newcastle fan and then in England. But I am also a Hajduk fan and the Croatian national team as well, so it causes me a little bit of a problem when England play Croatia in the World Cup.”