Sébastien Bazin, Jean Lavergne, Jean-Gabriel Pérès, Pierre-Frédéric Roulot and Georges Sampeur participated in the final debate that ended this year's Global Lodging Forum. Together they highlighted the practical lessons from the discussions in the different sessions held during the event.
We must realize that this is an economy of recommendations, and that our guests' experiences will be shared. The customer is not just the person staying at our hotel, but also any AccorHotels group card holder. The cardholder may need our services outside our hotels and we must be available, even if they stay at Airbnb. Today's clients are extremely diverse, demanding and well informed. They are and will be multi-card holders.
Employees working at our hotels must no longer apply the former service codes of the hotel industry: they must resemble our guests. It is necessary to shift away from norms and standards at all levels.
We have three priorities in our strategic choices: the customer experience prior to arriving at the hotel needs to be facilitated and ergonomic; the customer must be able to use his or her own tools at the hotel; the digital world needs to help us offer better access to the hotel, but I do not believe in digital rooms,
The consolidation of the hotel industry cannot be ignored for reaching critical size. Chinese players, who are currently investing in the international hotel industry, are also creating a super power on their territory. They know that 90% of Chinese travelers stay in the Asia-Pacific region, but they did not have the network necessary to monopolize the market. By investing in the global players, they are able to support Chinese travelers internationally.
Jean Lavergne, Chairman of the Board SEH
We must shift the positioning of today's hotel industry as it is not the same as yesterday's and and will not be tomorrow's either. We must deal with broad profiles of guests who use hotels differently depending on what stage they are at in their life. Tomorrow's consumer will be focused 100% on new technologies, and we must train to satisfy this need.
I think that the hotelier's work is very likely to change with the advent of new technologies and that jobs will be eliminated. So much so that robots will not be invented to make up rooms, this is surely the one job in the hotel industry that is not destined to change. Reception positions will also remain, although they will be changed to focus more on human aspects than on technical aspects
Everything the big hotel groups do, we do too within our hotel cooperative. We have no complexes about what is going on around us, and we are bring the same services as hotel groups; even if this is less visible just as we are not visible in marketing.
Jean-Gabriel Pérès, CEO Mövenpick
The geographic breakdown of clients makes less sense today than segmentation by age and behavior. We must stop thinking this way, except as far as concerns culinary preferences. Currently we are seeing a total fusion of customer preferences, particularly regarding technology. Today we cannot consider customer origins in the same light as 25 years ago, which actually facilitates deployment of our products.
Regarding Generation Y customers, we can no longer talk about loyalty when only 21% of Millennials hold a loyalty card. They have about 15 or 20 in their wallet, but that's not the problem. The most important thing for hoteliers today is to reach out to their customers with a personalized approach.
The use of technology in operations saves time, freeing up staff to dedicate themselves to the well-being of guests. As Steve Jobs said, "Put the consumer at the forefront and technology will follow." This means that technology should only be used to satisfy customer expectations.
Pierre-Frédéric Roulot, CEO Groupe du Louvre and President de Louvre Hotels Group
Hotel guests are changing enormously, especially on the business segment. They are, for example, on the move all day long, forcing us to reinvent our properties' hours. We are working on this matter a great deal; moreover, we have created a dedicated think tank unit, because we feel that traditional hotels will not survive for more than another decade.
Hospitality training results in standardized service, and it is difficult to escape that. It is time to free up energies and empower our staff. We have implemented the "Happy Garantie" and "Happy Attitude" program to offer our teams the opportunity to completely change their service and launch initiatives. If the ideas offered are good, then we give them the necessary means to realize them.
Our Chinese shareholder, Jin Jiang, gave us previously unimaginable strengths, particularly as far as concerns the investment budget allocated to innovation. Today it represents 50% of Louvre Hotels Group's Capex, while investment was previously mostly dedicated to renovations and retrofitting.
Georges Sampeur, Chairman of the Board B&B Hôtels
In order to seduce new clients, we must be more flexible. The hotel guest was king, now he has become dictator. The challenge for actors in the industry is to bring simplicity to a world that is increasingly complex, but also to highlight the value behind the brands they sell. It is important to understand the reflexes of customers confronted with a choice, and to have messages that are readable and simple so they don't have too many questions when they come to stay with us. We try to create a feeling of trust when the client stays with us.
Technology should not become an issue in terms of how we manage our business operations. In the end, everyone has a room and shower to sell, and our work is based on welcoming people. We should not make our methods more complex. We all use smartphones, but we only use them at 10% of their capacity, and the same is true for technology in the hotel industry.
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