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by Georges Panayotis

Hotels are, by nature, service providers that over the years have tended to limit their playing field out of concern for coherence or efficient management, but that was before…. before economic models could be overturned by new arrivals on the market, before customer demands began to change along with their behavior.

The great strength of new actors, which have no old habits, lies in expanding the range of services while changing perspective. Operational habits no longer dictate services offered, opportunities to satisfy needs do. The new hybrid concepts began this approach, which is a bit surprising at first, by combining accommodations and co-working spaces, theater and local bar, hotel shop and tourism concierge.

But why leave them alone to tap into this market full of opportunities? There is nothing to prevent each hotel, depending on its means and ambition, from building an original supply while focusing on strengthening social ties and commercial presence. Hotel businesses have the legitimacy required for occupying and especially for taking advantage of the space around them. This means capitalizing on real local anchoring to make it a place for events, for meeting, a converging point as well as a place for doing business.

The movement has been underway for a few years, during the wave of "boutique hotel" growth, which is the first response to the defiance of customers faced with products that are overly formatted. In fact within a context that remains difficult for France's hotel industry, hotel capacity continued to grow, particularly thanks to new, unbranded hotels in the mid and upscale. The quest for authenticity and a personalized human connection are behind these properties' success.

AirBnB and similar entities filled the gap by offering a personal touch, favoring local accents and proximity to autochthones at low prices... although experience shows that promises do not always ring true. The warning shot can be beneficial if it makes "traditional" hotel marketing wake up. Economic models are evolving, but the basics remain the same: satisfy a need, arouse desire, justify faithfulness and grow clientele.

With or without branding, properties must (re)appropriate their surroundings and question the evolution of their range of current services and those that need to be invented. To paraphrase the slogans of two cornerstones of distribution in the 80s: "There is always something happening ..." or "You can find everything..." in the new hotel industry. Trainees needs to go hand in hand with this new entrepreneurial approach. At the academies, hotel schools and training programs, it is important to revive an entrepreneurial spirit and encourage a break away from a classic approach.

The fundamental difference between hotels and the sharing economy is that the former depend on the quality of service, when the idea is instilled in men and women in the field. If the hotel product is innovative, there is every reason to believe in the future. The main thing is to make the difference stand out in a positive way and focus on all that is human, a major asset of our profession within a troubled context. "At night the stars shine bright".

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly.

The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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