Creating Spaces – An Interview With Ishanth Gunewardene, Head Of Sales And Marketing For Jetwing
- What makes Jetwing unique as a brand?
At its core, Jetwing is steeped in family values and an undying love for Sri Lanka – a land blessed in abundance. We are a 100% family run business completely focused on the leisure industry. Founded in 1973 by Mr. Herbert Cooray, with the opening of the Blue Oceanic Beach Hotel (now Jetwing Blue), with just six rooms of a planned fifty, the Jetwing brand now counts over four decades of experience in the tourism industry, a portfolio of over 22 properties and is a truly Sri Lankan brand with a great story! Building on the values of passion, honesty, integrity and tenacity and a deep respect for all including the environment and communities we operate in, Jetwing has gone on to design and launch novel and innovative concepts over the years such as Jetwing Lighthouse, Jetwing Vil Uyana, and Jetwing Yala, a testament to our pioneering spirit. This commitment to pioneering discoveries is represented in our logo, by the butterfly’s wings. A butterfly by nature explores; never content to settle in one particular location. Similarly, the Jetwing brand strives to discover and create new locations, destinations, and concepts. Sri Lanka is our home, and our personality reflects the true face of the country – traditional and welcoming hospitality. We believe in our people, our visitors, and in being culturally sensitive and environmentally conscious. The colour green emphasizes our dedication to sustainable practice, and the flowing script inspired by the Sinhalese and Tamil languages. This is the essence of the brand that relates to all Jetwing companies and is what makes the brand truly unique.
- The rebranding of Jetwing took place a few years ago. What plans do you have to take the brand further?
The rebranding was very well received, and ideally timed to reinvigorate the brand with a focus on the future. Over the past forty years, tourism continued to advance, there were many changes and the Jetwing brand went from strength to strength gaining recognition both in Sri Lanka as well as internationally resulting in strong brand equity. The rebranding exercise was done with the objective of maximizing on this, marshalling the brand and ensuring we are brand fit for the future. Our identity and brand purpose did not change, neither did our vision and values and we kept the same brand name but what did change was the logo to a clearer definition of the core brand and how we present ourselves to the world. We brought in consistency in the delivery of our message and how we positioned ourselves as an iconic brand. Strong brands display some simple and enduring characteristics, and at their heart lies a great product and a distinct personality. Their identity makes them desirable, they know that desire fades and also how to evolve to remain relevant and are constantly mining culture for new ideas to inspire desire. Jetwing is a pioneering brand with a great product always striving for firsts and a proven track record of introducing new and novel concepts and products. We have a strong identity and will strive to evolve, adapt and grow so we always remain relevant and able to drive the future of tourism in Sri Lanka.
- Can you tell us about your new brand campaign?
Our new brand campaign focuses on our core brand “Jetwing” which we have not focused on strongly before at least in terms of advertising. The campaign brings out strongly our brand purpose or why we do what we do. Travel and tourism is constantly changing globally. We see a shift from the traditional tourist of the past content with just sightseeing to a more informed and knowledgeable transformative traveller driven by authentic experience. These travelers are no longer content with the traditional tourist circuit but search for richer life experience that bring about true self learning and are intent on discovering the true pulse of a destination its culture and its people. Sri Lanka is a land with a multitude of diverse experience; travelers are on a journey of personal discovery. Jetwing creates the spaces to experience the best of Sri Lanka. Spaces relating to locations, subtle encounters, breathtaking vistas, exceptional architecture and accommodation, to experience culture and local communities, to observe diversity and aid discovery. Spaces that make you feel at home, that celebrate heritage, that make you feel one with the environment and nature all of which facilitates a deep connection to the destination, its people and culture. Our new campaign focuses on this very concept, that of creating spaces for people to enjoy the best of Sri Lanka through our distinct brand of hospitality. The campaign will be rolled out in October across all channels both print and digital in Sri Lanka as well as internationally.
- Will this new campaign benefit Sri Lanka as well?
Of course – all of our collateral focuses on Sri Lanka; from her warm hospitality, unique destinations, and rich opportunities for discovery. We have always believed that the best way to truly experience a country is to live with a local family, and that is what we are: your family to experience Sri Lanka. We are committed to the destination and will continue to market the destination in our own way.
- What plans does Jetwing have for the future in terms of expansion?
Through Jetwing Symphony, we have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline. One of the very first was launched early this year, Jetwing Yala, an 80 room property that also features 10 luxury tented villas that provide a rustic and secluded ambience, perfect for the area. The resort is also home to the largest privately owned solar park in the country, which currently provides approximately 40% of the hotel’s daily electricity demand. In addition, construction of Jetwing Colombo is underway, which is to be a novel urban resort and feature 70 rooms and 28 serviced apartments. We will also be opening properties in Jaffna, Arugam Bay, Dambulla, and Passikudah. Last year, we launched the very first select service accommodation brand – Hotel J- in Negombo. The response has been nothing short of amazing, and the hotel is indeed a success story. We will also be looking at expanding the brand to other popular destinations within the country in the next few years too.