Industry Interviews

Terry Kaljo
CEO & proprietor

September 10, 2014

Describe your role?

I am at the stage of my career where I can delegate the administration of my business, Contemporary Hotels. My role is now focused on fine tuning the creative aspects of the company and checking the design and service elements.

What is your title?

CEO, proprietor.

How long have you been in your role?

18 years.

What inspired you to become a hotelier?

The absence of chic, boutique hotels in Australia that were of an international standard. 15 years ago we had ‘colonial inns’, ‘bed and breakfasts’ and unimpressive small hotels.

When you first began, what was your vocational projection and desired outcome and have you superseded your level of foreseeable success?

It is 1997, just before the Sydney Olympics, when I looked around the city fringe and decided Darlinghurst was the place to be for the new generation of global traveller. I acquired a terrace house in the heart of the café beat. As time when on, I acquired another, then another, then another. Yes, I was right, success followed.

How has your MBA assisted you in your role?

 Monash Business School gave me the confidence and the ability to set up a business plan.

How have your life experiences influenced your decision-making process as CEO of a luxury company?

Travelling young with an inquisitive mind and living in Paris and New York for modelling work was the best start for my communication skills. A fascination with design and business encouraged further learning and drive. Having difficult marriages made me independent and producing three beautiful children kept me organised and happy.

What is your greatest career achievement to date?

My son, Matthew Fleming taking an interest in the company and today as managing director growing it to the next stage and doubling the turnover. The best exit plan ever.

What is the best thing about owning your own successful business?

The perks! I travel to beautiful places – often!

If you had to begin your career again, what would you do differently?

I would have possibly arrived in the luxury accommodation industry eventually, however I wish I had studied fine arts instead of graphic design and collected more paintings from emerging artists along the way..

What is the future of luxury hotels?

I think they will continue to be better designed, with better service and provide better value. The world is a very competitive place and the consumer is very well informed.

What advice would you give people looking to enter the luxury industry?

Travel like a consumer and find your point of difference – then go forth and create. Life be in it.

How important is social media within the luxury hotel industry?

It is important, but it can be a two edged sword. To be relevant you need to flirt with it, and lure an audience, but beware. Keep your posts visually interesting and sincere, otherwise it can disastrous.

Does social media play an integral role in the marketing strategy of Contemporary Hotels?

Yes it does, however, you need to be helpful, interesting and mindful of not annoying your readers/contacts, as too many posts can do that.

Are you happy doing what you do?

Yes, I live my life in the pursuit of happiness for my family, my friends and myself. The only thing I can control is what I do and I do my best. I think I’m doing all right and I’m happy about that.

What would be your best advice to offer point of difference?

In the accommodation industry the X factor is the hook needed; hotels are expected to deliver a streamlined combination of design, service and location. It may a vibe, the food, the linen, the toiletries, the gardens, the view, the architecture – the magic.

What are you reading online?

I surf and cruise websites and social media to a degree.

Which ones?

Travel, design and fashion – Parlour X is cool.

What does Contemporary Hotel’s blog aim to offer to its readers?

The blog is there, however it is not our main focus. Our message to readers is via our evolving website and direct marketing.

What is next? Where do you hope to be in 10 years from now and what will you be doing?

I’m a people person and my career has evolved from opportunities that have been presented to me from a foundation of design and fashion. The stepping stones from the fashion industry, to design, to boutique hotels has not been particularly strategic. My growing network of inspirational friends and business contacts has continued my enthusiasm and encouraged me to take chances in the creative environments where I have been surrounded. The boutique hotel phase and the expansion into beach houses, villas and luxury apartments has proved to be rewarding. Today, I see myself more culturally curious and globally inspired. I know I won’t be bored.

You can find Terry on Twitter  @TerryKaljo

SHOP TERRY’S STYLE:

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Headquartered in the iconic St Johns Church in Sydney Australia, Parlour X has been awarded the 2015 Prix De Marie Claire Award for best fashion boutique, a ringing endorsement for this Australian fashion favourite.

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