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Article by Georges Panayotis

The hotel business rebuilds servuction

Hospitality ON 11 July 2018
What if it was all for nothing? What if living an unforgettable stay experience, which one will absolutely want to repeat, depended only on impalpable elements? A functional and attractive aesthetic product is now the bare minimum to attract and retain customers. While it is absolutely necessary, it is not enough. For the customer, these services are self-evident. Comfort, ergonomics, a sense of security are essential to good accommodations.But it is necessary to have a more global and far-reaching vision with a broader focus; offering an accommodations product now means providing a universe, a whole that can meet all needs, all expectations and adapt to all rhythms and lifestyles. Materials and products are now accessible to more and more consumers, and is becoming increasingly difficult to surprise a customer. If you are not fortunate enough to own or operate an exceptional property that conceals hidden treasures of craftsmanship, like the Lutetia, which resuscitated paintings and moldings created more than a century ago when the property was created, or other properties that are in an exceptional architectural setting, then it is necessary to invest in other ways to stand out.The key to good performance now lies in the success of the customer experience through services, staff, attitude, posture, practical and comprehensive socialization tools that become a genuine sindrofos or travel companion - like Sancho Panza was for Don Quixote- for the guest. A faithful servant available via his or her smartphone that is ever present, from morning to night and even at night. The host must be reachable at all times and able to meet immediate needs or even anticipate them in the same way that a butler would have done more than a century ago; the host must also be able to provide guests with suggestions that can meet their needs.After all, how can you judge a successful design? How can we hope to build spaces that enchant both Middle Eastern and Asian clientele at once? How can we cope with the overbidding of products and services? Rather than focusing on a battle lost in advance for most institutions, it is better to invest resources in digital tools that are adapted, efficient and readily available. Book a meeting space, find a restaurant selected and certified by the hotelier, plan an out of the ordinary excursion, live like a native thanks to advice on the best bar in the area, know the weather; meet other customers at the property and why not do business with them: this is what makes the difference. It is by putting everything at the client's fingertips that we will build a lasting relationship with them, and it is through this lasting relationship that profits will be maximized.We must not forget the central role of staff, whether or not they are in direct contact with the client, because accommodations are like beehives where each person has a crucial role to play. Employee training is decisive for the success of the stay. Everyone must have a strong service culture but also carry within them the values of the property in order to be able to translate them into their actions, decisions and attitude. To succeed, therefore, the hotelier must be dedicated to his customers and also take a staff-centered approach to retain and push staff towards excellence.Current and future technologies offer us boundless possibilities, the only barriers between a hotel owner and his customer are those of our own creativity. In an environment that is constantly changing and undergoing profound transformations, it would be delusional to want to do without soft skills and invest only in hard because it would mean completely missing the foundations of customer relations. The business of hotel establishments will undergo its own mutation as well, since a good part of the service will be provided by applications whose ownership will not be associated with the business. The battle is just beginning, some operators are investing heavily to create these ecosystems at the level of their own brands. After the mutation that has taken place in digital distribution, the next stage will occur within staff and ecosystems created by applications. The revolution of hospitality is still in its infancy.
Article by Georges Panayotis

Hospitalty Hiring Paradox: Time to take a stand!

Hospitality ON 19 July 2017
All too often, the hotel industry conveys the image of a sector that is ungrateful, has difficult hours, and under-valued careers; but what has truly been done to change that? With its history and that of generations of pigeonholed employees, the world of Hospitality is like a giant cruise ship trying - with great difficulty - to change its course. So it would be best to take the helm quickly. The transformation of concepts goes hand in hand with a return to the drawing board to reexamine the human role in the hotel industry. Traditional functions are exploding in in light of clients' increasing need for autonomy and - paradoxically - a need for more direct and more authentic exchanges with personnel. The jobs, defined in terms of vertical functions that are associated with one another, no longer correspond to the expectations of a more polyvalent, warmer, less technical and more interactive contact.The technological revolution that has taken place at headquarters must now trickle down to each property. This type of consideration of the hotelier's work, from every angle, must not be subject to any taboos. The use of artificial intelligence and different applications makes it possible to give employees new tools to strengthen their abilities to know clients, meet their expectations and control several functions at once, and thus gain in terms of expertise and qualifications.For hotel management, it is also a means of lightening structures, making them flexible again and increasing profitability that may thus result in better wages. There is no reason why the world of tourism and hospitality should be condemned to this image of minimum wages where propel work while they are looking for something better.In hotel groups, each employee had a kind of "passport", a more or less precise road book detailing their experience, training and qualifications. Today, they may be given a professional "toolbox" allowing them to handle any situation. This technical manual grows with the employee's knowledge, experiences, and any information supplied by management. Such software is already available at major industrial firms where it is a kind of "Pilot Book" with descriptions of jobs and and related tutorials to increase polyvalency.Hospitality is a world where start-ups get involved wholeheartedly. While hotel groups may have trouble bringing on this cultural revolution of management on the field, they can rely on the creativity of young people who assist in their metamorphosis, as other sectors have done. Daily management gains in efficiency and reactivity. The much hoped-for loyalty development can be realized when operations are able to give it meaning.The hotel industry needs to strengthen its heart and lungs, its core, in order to nourish a new form of passion and reception and service and breath new life into its trades, which while they are old should not remain antiquated.
Article by Georges Panayotis

Cutting a Bald Man's Hair

Hospitality ON 9 December 2016
Franchise contracts are based on a reciprocal commitment between the investor-operator and the brand. Since investment funds set their sights on the hotel industry, such contracts have run into serious pitfalls. More concerned about seeing share prices climb on the stock exchange, financial shareholders have driven corporate communication to the detriment of brand marketing, thereby weakening awareness, the image and the attributes that make up the essential capital of any consumer brand.The marketing budget is already desperately tight in the hotel world and any slowing down is felt rapidly. Groups have contented themselves with communications campaigns that are as creative as they are ephemeral. Thus, an implacable process is underway. In light of low resistance from brands OTAs saw the opportunity to take over hotel sales. They dictated their law by capturing a share of sales traffic that normally should have gone through franchisors' reservation systems.It is understandable that there is increasing doubt about justifying the remuneration that feels like a "double sentence". Calculated on the entire results it also includes the share of OTAs that have paid their share of the commission. Is it normal? Has the brand received enough support to develop a real personality that makes it stand out among its competitors? How were fees used that contribute to strengthening differentiation? It would have been wise to invest some in the evolution of concepts to allow franchisees to keep up with trends. New hybrid concepts that incorporate shared-working spaces rather than empty meeting rooms, that offer a mix of lodging solutions to expand the customer range, that redefine the social role of public spaces were born outside of franchise groups, which should nonetheless stay ahead of market expectations.Should a new supply be developed on the ruins of the old one, or in new locations? The question has been asked, but the answer remains unclear. Stuck with franchise contracts for 12 to 20 years, franchisees sometimes have the feeling of being abandoned en route while new players nibble away at their market shares. They carry the weight of the walls and business in the long term along with the threat of being underestimated if no one offers them the practical and profitable solutions for change. Transferring the risk of investment onto franchisees can only be justified if they feel supported and remunerated. That means a real investment in the brand and the product. Previously, during a difficult economic period, the brand's contribution was indispensable. More recently it proved necessary, but not enough. Will it end up being an option like another, and not necessarily one of the most efficient?Digital marketing has not helped any. How is it possible to truly exist in light of the strength of web intermediaries or sharing platforms? The break with distribution is already complete, and it is now late to want to catch up with it through major investments in digital that would be more efficiently spent on product innovation and marketing differentiation.A new generation is taking the helm at franchisees. It is clear they won't be using kid gloves to give some concrete meaning back to the win-win relationship sold to them by franchisors. As real entrepreneurs, they now analyze their operating accounts by ignoring the affective aspect that masked many frustrations. Loyalty to a group or a range of brands has disintegrated as much due to economic logic as to spite. Franchisees have often found themselves at the front line to drive their brand when groups refused to free up capex to invest in their own subsidiaries. How can you demand investment in concept renovation when the franchisor does not set the right example? It is not enough to do more concept projects if they are never unfurled or even begun.Today, it is high time to get back on track, renew the pertinence of hotel marketing and the strength in direct distribution. Franchisees are expressing their right to speak up and criticize within a balanced dialogue among decision makers. There is no reason for them to only have the right to the congruous part of financial results. After the thinning hair has been trimmed, will we go so far as to shave it off completely?

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