The Shepherd Hotel team members were honoured at Explore 24

Hotels that prioritise inclusivity, personalisation and going above and beyond for guests were recognised in’s list of top performing properties, revealed at Expedia Group’s Explore 24 conference.

On Wednesday last, at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, the group unveiled the 2024 Perfect Somewheres, celebrating the top 1% of hotels on the app based on guest experience data, factoring in traveller reviews, interactions with staff and ratings on property facilities, and condition.

Among the Asia Pacific hotels recognised in the 2024 Perfect Somewheres was Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand, which is set to be one of the filming locations for the newest season of The White Lotus. With beautiful beaches on its doorstep, the hotel offers every kind of beach activity and provides easy access to nearby diving reefs.

Speaking exclusively to HM, Expedia Group’s Vice President, Global Public Relations, Mel Fish, said the awards program is focused on how guests are treated.

“Hospitality can come through at a budget hotel, and it can come through at a super luxury hotel; and on the flip side, you can have not good experiences at both ends,” Fish said.

Expedia Group’s Mel Fish and Greg Schulze presenting the 2024 Perfect Somewheres

While data gives travellers greater insights into what they can expect at a property, “at the end of the day, hospitality is all about people”, according to Fish.

“AI and data technology is all going to help the traveller experience, but it can only take you so far,” Fish told HM.

“If you don’t have an experience with a person, whether it’s face to face or something they’ve done behind the scenes, then we haven’t taken the hospitality experience across the finish line.”

Fish pointed to two examples of top performing hotels which were recognised at the conference.

“We had a concierge in Vancouver, Canada, who, when he found out that one of his guests had left behind their identification in a rental car, he went so far is to figure out if he could hire a seaplane to get the person’s ID back to them,” she said.  

“At The Shepherd Hotel in Clemson, South Carolina – a small university town in the southern United States – a third of its staff is adults with intellectual disabilities.”

The Shepherd Hotel Co-founder Rick Hayduk, who has a hospitality background, has two teenagers with Down Syndrome and wanted to ensure that they were employed and could live independently.

“I’ve stayed at this hotel, and I would stay at a hotel every single time I travel that employs people who bring this level of joy and care to their job, and just enhance the experience in general,” Fish said.

Prizes were shared with attendees at the 2024 Perfect Somewheres awards

“I think that they are leading the way, and other hotels and businesses that are engaging in the inclusion revolution are recognising that there is value to businesses, and especially to hotels and hospitality, in employing people of all abilities and disabilities.”

Expedia Group’s SVP of Global Communications, Lauri Metrose, highlighted the importance of extraordinary guest experiences, regardless of the number of stars.

“This program fuels a powerful partnership: we showcase our partners’ excellence, and together, we connect travellers with their perfect somewhere,” Metrose said.

“We look forward to these awards becoming a benchmark for excellence in hospitality.”

Data revealed at the Explore 24 conference, showed that travellers are also seeking flexible cancellation, breakfast, including buffets, lunch, all-inclusive offerings and parking when booking a hotel.

Expedia Group is working with hotel partners to leverage its data insights to improve guest experience. When booking online, Expedia experts say high quality content and imagery, as well as competitive rates play a pivotal role in securing bookings.