Peter J. Bates in conversation with Jill Kluge, CMO, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

For the luxury hospitality group’s sales and marketing head, 2020 brought with it lessons in agility, innovation and staying connected with loyal guests in a socially distanced world. Now, the Mandarin Oriental Group has its sights set firmly ahead with plans for steady expansion across Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and a collaboration with The Oberoi Group in India.

Armed with a history and business degree, Jill Kluge began her career in Human Resources. “I loved training because I was a bit of an am-dram girl—I did a lot of amateur dramatics in my youth—and training gave me a platform to talk. So that was fun!” she says. Her path shifted to hospitality when she moved to Hong Kong in 1983. Since then, Kluge has built a successful 30-year association with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. She joined the team in Hong Kong in 1991 as Group Public Relations Manager, and was promoted to Group Director of Communications in 1998. In 2001, she transferred to the group’s corporate offices in London.

Since 2019, Kluge has been overseeing sales and marketing, brand communications, and strategies on a global basis as Chief Marketing Officer of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group where she believes in closely listening to guests’ needs. The luxury hospitality brand, identified by its iconic fan logo, currently has 33 hotels in 23 countries, stretching from Beijing in China to Italy’s picturesque Lake Como.

In conversation with Peter J. Bates, President – Strategic Vision, Kluge shares her insights into the Mandarin Oriental’s evolution as a global brand, innovative campaigns and agile marketing strategies that were brought on by the pandemic, and the steady expansion in store for the hospitality brand in the coming months.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group will continue to strengthen its foothold in key outbound markets of China and the Middle East, alongside increasing its resort portfolio, especially across Como, Milan and other Italian destinations. Projects are also in the pipeline in Japan, Danang and Saigon in Vietnam, and Zurich and Vienna in Central Europe. In 2020, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group announced a strategic alliance with the Oberoi Group in India.

“James Riley and Vikram Oberoi have been talking for many, many years, and their conversations were about a combination of two fantastic brands that really do have fantastic synergies together. We are culturally very alike, but we have a global portfolio between us that hardly overlaps and we saw an obvious benefit in that,” says Kluge. While both brands will function independently, they will collaborate on loyalty programmes to benefit mutual guests, as well as special events, initiatives and sales and marketing activities.