Established in 2011, EQ Hotels is a leading European hospitality investment and management platform with over €1.7B of hotel real estate across 5,000 rooms.
EQ Hotel’s quality discipline coupled with entrepreneurial, hands-on operational management, enables them to identify and execute niche, high-value-add real estate opportunities in the hotel investment market. EQ Hotel’s unique position, as both an investor and manager, allows it to underwrite acquisitions balancing solid return on investment targets with operationally credible roadmaps to achieve goals.
In early 2022, EQ Hotels engaged Madison Mayfair to support the development of its people strategy. After identifying the need to support not just overall marketing goals for the business, it became clear that there was an immediate need to support the high-profile opening of a luxury five-star property in Paris, Hotel Dame Des Arts. With this, Madison Mayfair adapted the executive search parameters to include robust luxury, pre-opening experience that could be deployed quickly and initially on a short-term contract to have a big impact with limited risk.
Natasha Eldred had recently moved back to the UK having spent nearly 20 years running her own luxury hospitality PR agency in south-east Asia, from her base of operations in Thailand. She had supported the launch of some of the biggest luxury properties in the region and was perfectly placed to lead the PR element of this pre-opening, on a fixed-term project basis.
By late 2022, with the pre-opening underway with Natasha’s expertise in place, we further enhanced the marketing team structure by recruiting a full time Director of Marketing. With her previous experience in multi-property luxury brands, we were delighted to place Carla Severn, an ideal match for EQ Hotels as they continue to grow their luxury portfolio in London and Paris.
As part of our ‘In Conversation” series, we were delighted to recently catch up with Natasha for a short Q & A as she shares her thoughts on her extensive experience in the hospitality industry.
What inspired you to follow a career in hospitality?
My passion and professional background in the performing arts led me to pursue a career in hospitality. The similarities between hotels and theatre are striking – both involve creating a captivating experience for the audience or guest. Hotels are like a stage or a film set, with the operations team and guests playing important roles in the narrative. Just as actors create characters, hotel professionals use branding and marketing to communicate with guests and create engaging experiences. I particularly enjoy the thrill of opening a new hotel – it’s like the excitement of a new relationship. As someone who works primarily on pre and grand-opening projects, I get to experience the buzz and then exit stage left while the hotel is at its peak.
What do you consider your biggest achievement so far and why?
While relocating back to the UK after being overseas for two decades was a significant personal achievement, my greatest professional accomplishment was leading the global launch of Keemala, a breathtaking resort tucked in the hillside of Phuket’s west coast. This project was particularly special to me because I had the opportunity to work closely with the owning family from the very beginning and was given full autonomy to oversee everything from the brand story to the PR strategy, social media, photography direction, and even the food and beverage offerings. Taking a 360-degree approach to this project allowed me to immerse myself fully in every aspect, and it was this level of involvement that I truly enjoyed. Overall, I consider my work on the Keemala launch to be my greatest achievement, as it was a project that felt deeply personal and allowed me to showcase my skills across multiple areas.
What does great hospitality mean to you?
To me, great hospitality is all about creating a sense of warmth and genuine welcome for every guest. While I certainly appreciate luxury and all the frills that come with it, I believe that the key to exceptional hospitality lies in the quality of the team. Hospitality is not just about providing top-notch service, but also about selling experiences and journeys that enrich the lives of guests. As a hospitality communications professional, I see myself as an ambassador for both the hotel and the destination it represents, sharing the story and values of both and ensuring that we shine the brightest light on both.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your career so far?
I have learned that continuous learning is essential, but it’s equally important to focus on my strengths. It’s easy to underestimate the value of experience and the distinctive perspective it brings to a team. As professionals, and consultants, it’s common to feel like an imposter or hesitate to charge a fair fee, but with decades of experience, I must remind myself that am worth every penny. Additionally, I have learned not to get caught up in small details and to have the courage to redirect clients towards what really matters. It’s easy to get bogged down in irrelevant aspects, but this can be a waste of time and resources. Instead, it’s crucial to stay focused on the big picture and work towards achieving meaningful outcomes.
Thank you to Natasha for sharing your inspirational views on the hospitality industry.
Madison Mayfair focuses on forging strong, long-standing relationships with clients and candidates, often over the lifetime of multiple roles, to ensure we can find creative and innovative solutions to the challenges we all face in the hospitality industry.
To discuss how we can support your businesses with your overall people strategy or to access our full suite of human capital services through Hospitality People Group, please get in touch with Guy Lean on Tel: +44 20 8600 1180, Mob: +44 7813 009787 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org