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In Conversation with Diego Bivero-Volpe - VP of Strategic Partnerships at an industry-leading global hospitality group

In Conversation with Diego Bivero-Volpe - VP of Strategic Partnerships at an industry-leading global hospitality group

Delve into the world of Diego Bivero-Volpe, hospitality expert and Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at one of the world’s most revered hotel groups. We sat down with Diego to chat life, work and travel and the dynamic day to day in his global role, from the importance of face to face meetings for creative output, to travel spontaneity, and the art of travel as a fusion of comfort and creative exploration.

On travel and routines

As part of my job, I travel to properties all over the world and spend a lot of time either on planes, trains or cars visiting different properties around the world and meeting with colleagues. When travelling abroad I focus on the early part of the day to try and keep some consistency and re-acclimate to my new environment – a morning swim or gym session. The rest of the day sort of cascades from there. I’m no expert at managing jet lag, but I’ve found that if you can preserve some level of routine, it helps manage the effects of frequent travel.


On face-to-face meetings

I work in the travel and hospitality industry, so meeting with people in face-to-face settings is intrinsic to the work that I do. Visiting properties and spending time in the local context provides a much deeper understanding of the situational aspects of all our partners’ and teams’ business. It’s impossible to get this kind of cultural nuance and background essence if you are not there. The hospitality industry is a human industry, and you have to interface with other people to riff, get ideas, share energy. The creative output is always way stronger in person rather than in a 30-minute block of Zoom time. Meeting with partners and colleagues in person is the gold standard.


On spontaneity and travel

I was fortunate enough to grow up in different parts of the world. I’ve lived in Japan, the US, parts of Europe, and now, for quite a long time, in the UK.  All these experiences of seeing new things and meeting new people, even just by osmosis, created a wider filter on how I see and move through the world. Years ago, my wife and I had this great moment where we went to New York on what was supposed to be a weekend trip to attend a friend’s wedding – just hand luggage for two-days. She works in film and was in the post edit for a film and said, ‘why don’t we go to LA to meet the producers?’ I had just sold my company and didn’t have any particular reason to rush back to London, so we booked a flight and went. Fast forward four months and we are still travelling – LA, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Maldives, Zurich, Ibiza, St Tropez, Nice, Paris and then finally back to London. It was all completely unplanned and still with just our carry-ons. We stayed with friends almost the entire way and met people from all walks of life. I think my international upbringing gave me this kind of more spontaneous perspective on travel and what is possible, but it also helped build a network of friends living all around the world.


On travelling well

For me ‘travelling well’ at a core level is about the mix of comfort and creative exploration. I am always curious about the place that I am travelling to even if I am just passing through. Visiting a new place will always give me a sense of excitement, and I love to explore even if just in passing. In terms of comfort, I have the luxury of working for a company that is the standard bearer in luxury hospitality, so the experience and comfort level is always incredible. That sense of having a home away from home is, bar none, the nicest touchpoint that you can have in any location.

One thing that I always do is unpack as soon as I get into the hotel room. Into the closets, drawers even if I am there for only one night, I always unpack everything. I feel that this somehow grounds me in the location as opposed to this transient feeling living out of a suitcase. It helps me feel like I have really ‘arrived’ – a ‘my stuff, in my room, everything laid out and organised’ sort of feeling (and it also helps with the wrinkles). Also, all the hotels I stay in, no matter the location, have the same bed. Sleep is such a core component of any work trip, and having a great bed influences my recovery and jet lag. Having a consistently amazing bed to come back to after a day’s work is a huge plus.


On the importance of a good pillow

When we did the aforementioned world tour, we also travelled with our own pillows, which made a huge difference. My wife always travels with her pillow and this time she coaxed me into bringing mine, which was a good move. You can buy all of our hotels’ bedding online and interestingly enough one of the most popular items is the pillow. A few days ago, I was chatting with a well-known actor about this and he said he travelled with this hotel pillow wherever he went. I was sort of surprised, but he said everyone he knows also does too.

On Die-Hard and jet lag

I wish I had some sort of secret potion to not get jet lag. You’ll probably laugh, but my most recent attempt at managing jet lag was inspired by a moment I had on a trip from London to New Orleans. I almost never sleep on flights and had already watched all the new releases. As it was December and nearing the holidays, I decided to rewatch Die Hard – a classic Christmas film. In the movie, Bruce Willis’s character is on a flight and the guy next to him tells him this trick of curing jet lag after long flights. When you arrive at your hotel, take off your shoes and socks and clench the ground with your bare feet. I tried this when I arrived in New Orleans and it sort of worked – something about the circulation. So there you go, the Die Hard trick.


Rapid Fire

Trip Essentials?

I always bring a full dinner, black tie suit. The number of times that I’ve been caught out without one means that now I own a lot of dinner suits. So instead of buying a new one every single time, I just bring one with me. Nine times out of ten, I end up using it.

Packed Itinerary or freestyle?

Work travel always benefits from structure to help you maximise your time. For personal travel though, I never have a set agenda. I tend to just roam and see what happens.

Favourite hotel?

Tough to name just one. Top three? Four Seasons, Florence; Four Seasons Surf Club in Miami; and Four Seasons Naviva in Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta. Really stunning places.

Favourite airline?

Whoever's going to upgrade, me based on this conversation.

Favourite airport?

I don't really have one, but I'd say Heathrow because it feels like home. Not that great operationally though. For efficiency, Amsterdam is great and Barajas in Madrid is beautiful. (Not LaGuardia).

Favourite city for a work trip?

London, that’s an easy one.

Plane or train?

Both. Trains can be incredible, but they're slow, so it depends.

On a long haul…

Smart or casual?

Pretty smart.  I don't own a tracksuit or anything like that so probably a jumper, shirt and trousers.

Booze or water?


Carry on or check-in?

Carry-on most of the time.

Eat, starve or bring your own food?

I've done it all. My wife travels a lot and always tells me that I shouldn’t eat plane food because of all the salt and whatnot. She has a point, but I think it helps to break up the flight and makes the trip feel shorter, so I tend to eat.

Wi-Fi or disconnect?

It's one of the great joys of travel to be disconnected for a few hours. Sometimes I will get online if there is something that I really need to do, but the wifi never really works and it’s always nice to be disconnected for a bit.