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The 2nd annual IMHI Forum, a day of networking and industry discussions

On the 6th of May, the ESSEC IMHI Center of Hospitality, Food and Travel hosted the 2nd annual IMHI Forum, bringing together 29 partner companies and instigating three different round table discussions to provide current MBA students with an opportunity to meet industry leaders and discuss their future career prospects.

Moderated by Professor Peter O'Connor, the first Round Table focused on the topic of 'Careers in Hospitality Distribution'. Joined on stage by Cynthia Castillo from Amadeus and two IMHI graduates, Julie Cheneau from Expedia and Etienne Faisandier from Movenpick Hotels, the discussion centered on their passion for the hospitality industry and advice for students interested in a career in revenue management.

As a position in revenue management heavily focuses on numbers, do you need numerical skills to be able to work in this function? Julie mentioned that analytical skills are highly necessary however you also have to have the ability to be critical and find meaning in the numbers. Cynthia expanded on this by mentioning that to be successful in the role, the candidate must have both hard and soft skills to be flexible and be able to make sense out of the information. Etienne emphasized that the ability to think outside of the box and willingness to go the extra mile are attractive attributes to have.

The second Round Table was dedicated to the topic of 'Luxury Hospitality Management' and was moderated by Denis Morisset. The guest speakers were Franka Holtmann from Hôtel Le Meurice, Jean Faivre from Hilton Worldwide and Michael Boroian from Sterling International.

All speakers swiftly agreed that the luxury industry is experiencing a period of transition. The market has changed with more emerging markets being interested in luxury and people becoming more impatient. Franka commented openly that you have to work harder than ever to deserve your guests. Jean also stated that luxury customers have shifted their focus on being someone and experiencing things rather than having things. The industry must be agile in order to understand how the retail industry works. Is it a challenge to find people to work in the luxury hospitality industry?

The third and final Round Table was on the topic of 'Innovation and Value Creation' moderated by Professor Nicolas Graf with Yves Lacheret from Accor, Michael Levie from CitizenM and Xavier Destribats from Kempinski in the discussion panel.

Yves noted that innovation is any bright idea that can add value for instance by generating a new product or service. Michael quickly stepped in to add that people tend to confuse innovation with new creation however that is not always the case. Innovation is so important that Kempinski have spent the last 4 years heavily investing in it. So how can you foster creativity and innovation? According to Xavier, you can't put people in a room for a couple of hours and expect them to be innovative. Everyone should be involved in the process and staff should be encouraged to be innovative by being constantly open to new things and experiences. All speakers agree that empowerment is an important factor. People want to participate and be recognized for their contribution.

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