Mr & Mrs Smith – Learning from Tamara Heber-Percy

Last week I wrote about Mr & Mrs Smith, a 12-year old UK company that curates luxury boutique hotels, and its personalisation drive. A few days ago I attended a talk by Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder and CTO of Mr & Mrs Smith. In this talk, largely aimed at MBA students at London Business School, Tamara talked about the history of Mr & Mrs Smith. She explained how the idea for the business had come about and what kind of lessons she and her husband, James Lohan (co-founder and CEO of Mr & Mrs Smith) had learned along the way.

These are the main three things that I learned from Tamara’s talk:

  1. The importance of brand and brand values – Tamara explained that for Mr & Mrs Smith “brand is everything”. For Mr & Mrs Smith, its brand stands for a number of things, which they live and breathe on a daily basis. For example, “trustworthy” might sound like a tired and overused value in some peoples’ ears, but one can easily see how important it is for Mr & Mrs Smith to win and keep the trust of the people making hotel bookings through their site.
  2. Customer understanding – Especially as Mr & Mrs Smith continues to grow and extend its brand architecture (e.g. through adding Smith & Family to its offering) it’s critical that it keeps a good understanding of the different customer segments that it serves. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post Mr & Mrs Smith has been concentrating recently on how to best serve different customer needs, making sure that it’s marketing approach is fully personalised and relevant. Tamara mentioned the importance of creating intent with the right customer, being in a position where Mr & Mrs Smith can be more proactive in offering the right “great find” hotels to the right customers. She also talked about omni-channel marketing in this respect as the decision-making process of today’s customer is a lot less linear than it might have been a decade ago.
  3. Creating and growing a team – Tamara talked about some of the challenges of managing a bigger team. However, it was her lesson learned about only hiring people “who are as passionate as you” that resonated with me the most. She quoted one of her colleagues who had talked about “hiring brains not bodies” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s so easy to look exclusively at attributes such as experience, academic credentials and skills whilst forgetting to get a sense of how much a future employee cares about the product, customers and brand.

Main learning point: Tamara Heber-Percy shared an inspiring story of how Mr & Mrs Smith started and how it has evolved. She was very open about some of the opportunities and challenges that her business faces. The importance of having a solid customer understanding was the aspect of Tamara’s talk that I related to the most; being totally customer centric and providing a personalised approach to each customer.

Tamara Heber-Percy – Taken from:

Tamara Heber-Percy

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