The Mr & Mrs Smith Presentation (Winding Down from the T-List – PhocusWright Travel Blogger Summit #ITB09 in Berlin part 2)


It is really refreshing when you are sitting at a conference with presentations and discussions of travel and hospitality and tech types who only seem interested in their good self or their own product or service and are not outgoing and not interested in the guest, their clientèle, or only maybe in the money of the guest, to get a presentation of a really passionate couple. James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy (see also my interview with Tamara) , the husband and wife who founded the Mr and Mrs Smith Collections under the caption: Luxury and Romance meet Technology.

Yes, I agree. It’s all about Respect!

They both come from a completely different background than travel and hospitality. Again their success shows that innovations in this industry frequently come from those outside the industry.

They started out with the production of the Mr & Mrs Smith guides. They described their difficulties with getting the guides published. Never before was a guide produced with one editor and one photographer for all properties. Eventually they decided to pyblish the guide all by themselves. The interesting thing is that added to the guides is a Mr and Mrs Smith membership card which gives the holder some extras as upgrades or a little present from their shop. That gives the brand a tremendous crowd to source from.

They are adamant about the properties being inspected by themselves or a member of their team of +40 in the meantime, because they strongly believe you cannot review a hotel properly without having experienced the look and feel of the place. In addition they sometimes team up with unusual partners for the hotel industry like lingerie brands. They also understand that you sometimes want to stay in a self catering accommodation or luxury chalet, rather than a hotel.

They seamlessly have merged their Blog (in the air since July 2005) into their main site. However Tamara was already out there scoring whatever was said about the brand in 2004: Shortly after I became aware of their guides via a post of my fellow editor Willem Vos at the Dutch language Weekend Hotel Blog she already commented there – note the date of the comment is not correct, as Willem had some problems in 2008 to migrate the blog to his new platform running on Ruby on Rail…whatever that may be, but I know I made the comment already in 2004-.

Here you see some footage of one of the rather unconventional and hilarious ad they presented at the keynote.

If even Gesa Noormann of Escapio says in a comment under Kevin’s Travolution coverage of the presentation:

Thanks Kevin for the fab article. Despite the fact that Mr and Mrs Smith are Escapio’s UK competitor, I can’t deny that their presentation was fantastic!

then you know your presentation was good even if you were dead tired.

Some personal notes:
I don’t understand jot from what Kevin’s caption means: “Corporate Barbarism does not begin at home say The Smiths”, but that could be my Dunglish.

If you are curious to see who the guy behind Escapio is look here. Even if I say it myself, I like the picture.

I think Willem should start talking with the two portfolios mentioned here, Mr & Mrs Smith and Escapio, or alternatively they should start talking with Willem, to see if there are possibilities to team up to cover The Netherlands and Belgium better than they do now separately.

Added March 24, 2009:

Via twitter I got the link of the same video on their site: Mr & Mrs Smith | Get a Room!. It has a bit better quality than the YouTube one

7 thoughts on “The Mr & Mrs Smith Presentation (Winding Down from the T-List – PhocusWright Travel Blogger Summit #ITB09 in Berlin part 2)”

  1. Ah Guido – thank you for the nice write up. The conference was so professionally run – it was very nerve-wracking to get up there and present – especially since there had been some hard questions from the talkbackers in one of the previous presentations!

    I completely take on board that we don’t do justice to the Netherlands and Belgium and I know I have promised change for a while now – it’s getting close to the top of my never ending to do list!

    Are you coming over to the UK for the Travolution Summit?

  2. Tamara
    My pleasure.
    You’re so fast with commenting within half an hour of publishing this. Tell me the secret. How do you do that?

    And: Yes, planning to go there, but hesitating a bit…

  3. Hi Guido

    I think Kevin was being clever and referencing this band in his title.

    More importantly, I would agree that this was a stand out presentation at the summit. For web analytics geeks like us up here at Tracking Tourism, it showcased (among other things) a really successful blending of data and customer service in a way that few other small companies I know of do well (the fact that Tamara had invested in Omniture – usually a tool for large corporations – for example impressed us greatly!) .

  4. Stephen – thank you – am blushing!
    Guido. Omniture is brilliant – it’s a very advanced Google analytics and is generally considered the Rolls Royce of analytics packages. We are only just scratching the surface of what it can do but it gives you a real understanding of how people use your site – above and beyond simple page visits, time spent on site etc…. It’s expensive but if used properly can ensure that you concentrate on changing and improving the areas of your site that really need work rather than best guessing. The problem for small companies is that you need someone who really understands how to use it and implement it (which is not simple) so there’s further investment required there.

  5. I’m late to posting here but just had to add my agreement to the rest. This was probably the presentation I enjoyed most after the one on social travel guides, which is much more contextually relevant to me 🙂 The brand is super streamlined and focused in my opinion, something that is actually more difficult online than off, imo. Hats off.

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