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by Georges Panayotis

Others have sung that tune before me, in other circumstances and in other sectors as well, yet it should come as no surprise after talking about it for so long: I love the hospitality industry! I love it and defend it as one of our economy's most competitive sectors; an industry that finds it difficult to be heard and respected in the higher circles, and regularly endures attacks from ruthless predators.

Beyond the economic and financial logic, there are several reasons that explain why I love the hospitality industry: its ability to constantly surprise us, to reinvent itself, to seize opportunities enabled by technology, design, marketing, gastronomy, fashion, culture and architecture... to offer a different experience.

Reinventing itself also means broadening horizons, bringing down barriers to include the latest original and hybrid concepts in the sphere of commercial accommodation - thus providing customers with a wide array of services. What distinguishes the hotel and hospitality industry from other types of accommodation, alternative and shared, is the human dimension. It is a combination of a "product" and the people who give it a soul.

Concepts that favor a "marketing buzz" have understood the importance of this duo, whether in sophisticated palaces, personalized boutique hotels, trendy business hotels, or restyled youth hostels... In any case, these concepts enable interactions between staff and customers, the hotel and its environment, and among guests themselves. It is no coincidence that hotel lobbies and public spaces have been redesigned to foster exchanges and public life, incidentally leading to business opportunities and additional revenue.

Yes, I absolutely love when hospitality manages to find the right balance and offers experiences that measure up to their "fair price". This validates the opinion that it will be able to take on new competitors, as long as the rules of the game are not skewed. Yet "Spare the rod and spoil the child": it is important to give a wake-up call when idleness and irresponsibility lead to do-nothingness and opposition to change. It is natural to point fingers at hoteliers who do not understand their profession and would rather behave like finance or IT experts, believing that imposing ratios and opening new channels can solve everything. Hotel guests appreciate the warm welcome, the attention, and the gratitude they are given.

By shaking up the hotel industry, the shared economy compels us to remember the core values of our business, bringing their human dimension back to the foreground. The shortage in hotel supply led the industry to lose touch with the importance of loyalty - a true loyalty based on a personalized relationship, and not just consisting in accumulating points on cards distributed indiscriminately. This does not prevent us from seeking a reorganization of the shared accommodation market, and reining in the rogue players that take advantage of legal loopholes and passing fads to ruthlessly conquer dynamic markets. Yet defensive attitudes and protectionism cannot be the only solutions for the future. The market is always right, so it expects hoteliers to reinvent their offers -and to rediscover the true meaning of their vocation.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, 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

g.panayotis@mkg-group.com

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