Leave nothing to chance. This is easier for us than for a larger property, as we only host small, intimate groups, one group at a time. Prepare, make no assumptions, plan some more, and then execute. Discuss with their advisors what their expectations are and what experiences they have enjoyed, and don’t be afraid to ask even the most obvious of questions; you may be surprised at the answer.

As part of my series about “How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Klaiber, Global Business Development Manager @ Chalet Zermatt Peak and founder of ACDT GMBH — A boutique business development consultancy.

Matthew Klaiber is a seasoned professional with 25 years of global experience in business development, team management, and client-centric strategies.

As the Global Business Development Manager at Chalet Zermatt Peak, Matthew has earned recognition for maintaining the prestigious status of the World’s Best Ski Chalet for four consecutive years. His expertise lies in fostering business growth and enhancing client and guest relationships.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My love of the mountains and raising my young family in the fresh air and ambiance of the Alps guided me to this current position and phase in my career.

I love working with motivated and innovative teams that share the passion and interest of giving their customers and clients a superior experience in this amazing part of the world.

It’s immensely fulfilling to be part of a team with the same dedication and enthusiasm for delivering superior service to our guests.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One of the most unforgettable moments in my career occurred many years ago while managing a film set in Hawaii.

It was an otherwise routine day until a sudden false alarm blared across everyone’s cell phones, signalling an imminent inbound missile threat to the island. The message explicitly stated it wasn’t a drill, intensifying the panic and fear among the team.

With a crew of around 30 people, including clients, talent, and notable Hawaiian surf athletes, the gravity of the situation became palpable. Witnessing the diverse range of human reactions to such a crisis was both intriguing and concerning. The urgency to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved became paramount.

It felt like the longest and most harrowing hour, coordinating and guiding everyone to seek shelter and safety amidst the chaos. You plan for many scenarios for this type of work. However, this was the first time I envisaged something like this happening.

The tension and uncertainty were overwhelming, especially given the stature of some individuals present. Observing how people responded under extreme, unexpected stress was a unique experience.

Ultimately, after what seemed like an eternity, we received the relieving news that it was, indeed, an error. The relief that swept over us was immense, but the incident left a lasting impression on me. It highlighted the importance of preparedness, quick thinking, clear direction and maintaining composure in the face of an unexpected crisis or emergency.”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Sure, there is one that stands out.

After a long-haul flight from Sydney, Australia, to New York in the late 1990s, I left my backpack on the back seat of the cab from the airport near Grand Central Station. I was stopping over for meetings on the way to Switzerland and travelling with ski equipment and bags. I rushed to get it all out of the cab and left the backpack on the back seat.

This was back when we would travel with travellers cheques, printed plane tickets, a CD collection, Diskman and a Filofax with all your contacts in your carry-on bag. Not to mention my two passports.

Before I realised it, the cab had left.

I spent five days in New York trying to cancel passports and traveller’s cheques, re-issue plane tickets, and remember what CDs from my collection I had lost.

Long story short, the next passenger in the cab took the bag and spent five days trying to track me down; they even tried calling some numbers in my Filofax abroad.

Anyway, 6 hours before departure, the Swiss Consulate told me they had contact information for the person with the bag. They were just around the corner from where I was staying. I tried to reward him, but he wouldn’t take it; instead, he said in his thick American Accent, “Well, I guess you have had a good New York Experience.”

Reflecting on this misadventure taught me invaluable lessons: Firstly, a vital prepayment ritual before parting with the cab should be a thorough back-seat check. Secondly, amidst the chaos, it reinstated my belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. The kindness and efforts made by a stranger to return what was lost highlighted the innate goodness prevailing in most people. It was a humorous, albeit nerve-wracking, lesson that has stuck with me ever since.”

We need to achieve success with some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to my remarkable mother. She navigated the demanding task of raising three highly energetic and, admittedly, occasionally challenging boys singlehandedly. Even in the face of adversity, her unwavering positivity and determination have been a guiding light throughout my life.

Balancing the responsibilities of a bustling household while pursuing a full-time career as an academic lecturer and persistently working towards her PhD, my mother showcased unparalleled resilience and dedication. Her commitment to both her professional and familial duties was genuinely awe-inspiring.

Her influence and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping not just my life but the lives of my brothers as well. Despite our varied paths, my mother’s steadfast encouragement and unwavering belief in our potential catalysed our successes in distinctly different industries.

Today, as I reflect on our achievements, I credit much of my drive, work ethic, and resilience to the lessons instilled by my mother. Her strength, optimism, and tireless determination to face challenges have been a constant source of inspiration. I am forever grateful for her unwavering support and the values she continues to impart, which guide me in both my personal and professional endeavours.”

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers the innovations you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Our primary focus currently revolves around two key areas of innovation within the travel and hospitality industries. Firstly, sustainability has become a central pillar of our initiatives. We actively engage in extensive research and implementation strategies to ensure our operations are environmentally conscious and sustainable. This includes exploring eco-friendly practices, reducing our carbon footprint, and implementing initiatives to promote conservation and responsible resource management.

Moreover, a significant focus of our innovation efforts lies in cultivating and sustaining a high-performing team. We firmly believe that the core influencers of an exceptional guest experience are the dedicated individuals within our organisation.

While having a magnificent property is undoubtedly important, the people behind its operations genuinely elevate it to an exceptional level. Therefore, we emphasize nurturing a team culture that fosters excellence, professionalism, and a commitment to delivering unparalleled service.

Additionally, I am actively involved in developing and customising several new IT systems tailored specifically for the Luxury Villa and Chalet sector. These systems are designed to streamline administrative processes, reduce operational complexities, and enhance client experience and relationships. We aim to leverage technology to optimise efficiency while maintaining a personalised and seamless experience for our guests.

By focusing on sustainability, team development, and technological advancements tailored to our sector’s specific needs, we aim to elevate our services, minimize environmental impact, and ensure a memorable and fulfilling experience for our guests.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation, and how do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Our focus on delivering a ‘wow’ experience for guests is rooted in our belief that small, thoughtful gestures can make a profound difference.

We aim to redefine excellence in hospitality by emphasizing these minor enhancements, the 1% that collectively elevates a guest’s stay. This approach challenges the traditional belief that only grand gestures define exceptional experiences. By humbly highlighting the impact of these seemingly small details, we aim to set a new standard in hospitality, showing that genuine care and attention make a difference. We are lucky to host only small groups at a time, which makes this endeavor possible.

As you know, COVID19 changed the world as we know it. Can you share a few examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers will prefer to travel?

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed reshaped the landscape of travel and hospitality in profound ways. One noticeable shift is the increased zeal among travellers to embrace ‘bucket list’ experiences, seeking out adventures and destinations they might have postponed or overlooked before the pandemic. The enforced pause caused people to reassess their priorities, spurring a newfound willingness to explore the unknown.

This evolving traveller mindset emphasises a growing demand for exclusive and exceptional experiences. Hospitality and travel companies adapting to this demand recognise the significance of partnerships. Collaborating with like-minded businesses with shared vision and goals has become crucial. Often, more than one business is needed to meet the desires and demands of these guests.

These synergistic partnerships create a holistic offering that exceeds individual capabilities, enhancing the overall guest experience. Guests take note and appreciate when companies seamlessly collaborate to curate remarkable experiences tailored to their desires.

Moreover, there’s a noticeable trend towards private residences and secluded accommodations.

Guests seek the intimacy of sharing these spaces with loved ones and friends while enjoying the personalised attention of dedicated staff. However, the challenge lies in striking the delicate balance between offering bespoke services and maintaining an authentic, uncontrived experience.

Maintaining a sense of natural ease and comfort while ensuring guests feel genuinely cared for is critical in this domain.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

“For me, the perfect vacation involves a blend of adventure, cultural exploration, and family engagement. I prefer destinations that encourage active pursuits and allow me to immerse myself in the local culture and cuisine, away from crowded tourist areas. My two young sons need to experience diverse cultures and ways of life.

Ensuring my children have the opportunity to broaden their perspectives is a priority. This type of vacation enriches their understanding and provides my wife and me with a more relaxing time. My boys are very energetic and need to be constantly active. Typically, our trips involve engaging in water sports, especially in warmer coastal environments, as we’re fortunate to experience mountain life daily at home.”

Travel is about more than just escaping; it is about connecting. Have you made efforts to cultivate a more wellness-driven experience? We’d love to hear about it.

Wellness is not just an aspect of our offering; it’s a fundamental pillar that underpins the guest experience we strive to create. We believe that travel is more than just an escape; it’s an opportunity for guests to reconnect, rejuvenate, and find peace and balance.

Our team is deeply committed to ensuring that every guest who walks through our doors embarks on a transformative journey towards relaxation and serenity. Witnessing the remarkable transformation in our guests, especially those who fully immerse themselves in our wellness programs, is truly gratifying. It’s rewarding to know that our efforts in fostering an environment conducive to well-being contribute significantly to their experiences and keep them returning for more.

Ok super. Here is the central question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a travel experience that keeps bringing people back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. People — It is all about the connection with people, be it between the team members themselves, with partners or towards the guests. If you can cultivate an environment for positive and meaningful human connection, success and fulfilment will follow.
  2. Leave nothing to chance. This is easier for us than for a larger property, as we only host small, intimate groups, one group at a time. Prepare, make no assumptions, plan some more, and then execute. Discuss with their advisors what their expectations are and what experiences they have enjoyed, and don’t be afraid to ask even the most obvious of questions; you may be surprised at the answer.
  3. Exquisite Culinary Offerings: Undoubtedly, gastronomic experiences are pivotal in our offering. Elevate the culinary journey by offering exceptional and memorable dining experiences. Quality, creativity, and attention to detail in food offerings can significantly enhance guests’ overall experience. We focus on local and fresh.
  4. Craft Unique and Memorable Experiences: Surprise and delight guests with exceptional and exclusive moments that are distinctive to your offerings. Collaborate closely with partners and suppliers who share your vision to create these extraordinary moments.
  5. Invest in exceptional talent and nurture growth within the team: Recruit talent meticulously and invest in their success. Focus on hiring individuals whose attitudes align with your vision and culture. Prioritise their willingness to learn and grow over solely possessing technical skills. Creating an environment where team members can thrive and excel contributes significantly to the overall guest experience. Clear all obstacles in their way that will hinder their success.

Can you share with our readers how you have used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are committed to giving back to the community and supporting meaningful causes. One recently undertaken initiative involved collaborating with our partners to create an exclusive Chalet Zermatt Peak experience, which we donated to the Roger Federer Foundation. This experience offered a luxurious stay at our property and was auctioned to raise funds for the Foundation’s charitable work with schools in Africa.

Having had the privilege of hosting Mr. Roger Federer himself at Chalet Zermatt Peak, we hold tremendous respect for his exceptional tennis skills and his unwavering dedication to philanthropy. Our partnership with Golf for Africa — for the benefit of the Roger Federer Foundation, allowed us to contribute substantially to their impactful initiatives. This was our second time supporting the foundation by donating a stay and witnessing the generous bids. The substantial amount raised fills us with immense pride and satisfaction.

Beyond the financial contribution, such initiatives profoundly impact our team. Knowing that their daily efforts and contributions extend beyond delivering exceptional experiences to guests and supporting meaningful causes adds a layer of fulfilment to their work. It reinforces a sense of purpose and encourages a shared commitment to making a positive difference in the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I like to keep things simple, and I like the simple idea of practicing kindness to others. One of my clients has a saying: “It is never wrong to do the right thing.”

Going a little deeper, it is about making positive assumptions about others and their actions. I like being part of a growing community practicing these ideals worldwide. It is idealistic; however, if embraced, this may solve some of the global conflicts and misunderstandings. Being part of this movement to spread empathy and understanding could foster a more harmonious world.

If you are interested, listen to mindset coach Ben Crowe from Australia. He has very clear and simple ideas on this and has influenced and guided some of the world’s top athletes and business leaders to reach their goals and live fulfilling lives.

One of the ideas he fosters and talks about is “Survival of the Kindest” over “Survival of the Fittest”. Over evolution, it has been the species that have helped and supported each other that have thrived. Think about that for a moment.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am a bit boring on the socials; I have a private Instagram account, mainly pictures of my kids doing their tricks on skis and surfboards. @matt_klaibs

I am also on Linkedin. https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthew-klaiber-55181b49/

Much more interesting would be following @ChaletZermattPeak on Instagram or visiting Chalet Zermatt Peak online via www.chaletzermattpeak.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.