Interview with Alain Tayar, Deputy CEO, Bouygues Bâtiment Ile-de-France Rénovation Privée.
What is the DNA of Bouygues Bâtiment Ilede-France Rénovation Privée? What is its strength?
Bouygues Bâtiment Rénovation Privée has organized a division, which I run, that specializes in hospitality. When it comes to renovation our notions are ultra prototypal. Our values are full of passion, audacity, respect, excellence and humility with respect to construction.
Our references speak for themselves, the Crillon, the Ritz, the Shangri La, the Prince de Galles, and so on. We are now pioneers in three new kinds of renewal: upscaling, renovation and new developments.
We were the first to show interest in new hotel market cycles: renovations of the Hyatt Regency Porte Maillot, the Martinez in Cannes and the InterContinental Paris Le Grand all have a point in common - the renovation of occupied sites. Our permanent mindset is to improve our technical approach and productivity and I would say the full renovation of the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile across 24 months for 1,000 rooms and 20,000 m² of public space while keeping the property operational has been a great challenge.
Our DNA is a culture of global support. It ensures we have control over quality, delivery time and costs. We offer the guarantee of controlled customer itinerary. We also created an FF&E purchasing center with a variety of products we don’t skimp on, this service is solely for our clients, and is another way to cut costs and delivery time. Finally, five years ago we created an interior design business called the Studio that is able to custom build a universe for our clients and accompany important designers in developing their project.
We also have a dedicated logistics platform that allows us to deliver “rooms” directly to the worksite, resulting in major gains in productivity as well as a reduction of waste. We work very hard on the circular economy, up-cycling, low-carbon constructions. Driven by our culture to innovate, we are leaders in this field.
Our aim is for 0 waste at our worksites. At the last 4 sites we reduced waste production by 60%. The Tour Paris Lyon includes a Marriott Courtyard, a project led with AXA, Pitch Promotion and Studios, we have realized prefabricated bathrooms offsite. In 21 months, we transformed this IGH (Immeuble de Grande Hauteur : High Building) services building into a 248-room hotel and 100% of reserves were removed.
Another one of our strengths is our know-how, our expertise. Our clients come to us because they know they will be the focus of our concern. We are passionate. We want to develop and transmit this passion. Our strengths lie in our know-how, our expertise, our references, our workforce and above all our soft skills. We have gone from being a referral company to being a preferred company.
Our primary wealth lies in our workforce. I work with passionate people who have a culture of heritage, of success and of the client. Our business is large and closely connected to artisanship and the excellence of the artisan. We work in direct contact with artists and creators. One of our most moving memories today is the creation of the apartments designed by Karl LAGERFELD at the Crillon. I would conclude that in terms of our DNA, when you knock on our door, you will be greeted by staff who can do anything.
What differentiates construction/ renovation of a hotel product versus other types of properties such as office or retail?
Retail, accommodations and hospitality are all fairly similar products, because they are BtoC. We must seek excellence for the final customer. The hotel product is totally focused on use and the end client, it seeks social evolutions, it is a globalized product. When you enter a Marriott you enter a Marriott, even if there are touches of local influence, there is an international continuity. The product must have a soul and follow trends. When entering a hotel room, it must feel like home even if it is everyone else’s home. And yet, there is a big difference between clientele types.
Today’s world of office property is beginning to move. Digital is coming into play with consideration of usage. Until now, office development was an expectation of return on investment, while with hotel products it was necessary to create goodwill and value for the destination. At hotels the concern is wellbeing and acoustics. The destination must become part of the hotel, which must provide service, particularly to families and offer increasing levels of security.
The cycle is shifting. Five years ago the fad was co-branding; today, innovation is elsewhere. Today we are renovating Le Fouquet’s, which we renovated 12 years ago. This renovation is not about worn out materials but renewal within the product’s lifecycle.
What do you think the ingredients are for a successful partnership to create a hotel property?
Confidence; the primary axis of corporate policy is customer experience because we must not forget that a business cannot exist without clients.
Keeping commitments, delivery deadlines are key. The desire to work is a gage of success.
When a hotel is created we work alongside our customers to achieve a common goal. It all works thanks to magic, emotion, the pleasure of working together, the quality of those working on the project. We respect the economics of projects, but do not work towards the economy.
What major hospitality product trends do you see taking shape?
The main one - which needs a great deal of interest invested in it - is modularity. Our society and customer needs are evolving increasingly rapidly. The cycles are anarchical, and getting shorter. Fads, trends, needs, desires all change…. At restaurants, for example, furniture is changed depending on the seasons. Meeting spaces are available in suites, there are ephemeral bars, ephemeral night clubs…
It is also necessary to have properties that are open to cities. Before, I would not have thought to have dinner in a hotel,
now I can. Les Bains Douches, the Bar des Ambassadeurs, Shangri-La’s SONG, the Chalet Les Neiges Courchevel in the courtyard at Fouquet’s are perfect examples.
It is important to offer something multi-faceted and surprising.
How do you consider the restrictions linked to the French legislation in the creation of real estate projects?
We have obligations linked to the territory, to regulations and standards. It’s nothing new, so there is no improvisation. This where we need to act, but it is not what makes the project difficult. What is complicated are the buildings that have come down through the ages. So it is necessary to adapt to what exists. What lies behind a wall, under a carpet, we only find out once we have begun works, and that is where the real challenge lies.
Our guarantee is that we will be able to complete a project no matter what. This is one of the keys to the builder’s trade during the renovation.
France has a reputation for its global knowhow. Some of the greatest architects are French, it is in France that the first cathedrals were built, and it where reinforced concrete was invented, as was ultra-high performance fiber concrete (UHPFC). We are able to invent, innovate and adapt.