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by Georges Panayotis

Globalization is largely viewed as an opportunity for Tourism in general because it facilitates international travel and for the hotel industry in particular, which has seen its customer base grow with each passing year. This would truly be an ideal world if this growing strength of exchanges did not go hand in hand with troublesome secondary effects.

It also gave birth to global corporations that have taken the risk of freeing themselves from national laws as much as possible to take refuge in legal loopholes. The digital giants known as GAFA (Google Apple Facebook Amazon) have dragged their cousins along in their wake: OTAs, price comparison websites, aggregators and the likes of TripAdvisor and AirBnB in the "sharing" economy are all too happy to fall into the breach of distorted competition.

Hand on heart, they defend free enterprise, stigmatizing the excessive cost of services provided by archaic operators sitting comfortably in their historic position. But dimensions have totally changed. No hegemonic local position could resist against the blow dealt by the giants that fully master the Go Global game. Cynical and hypocritical, they know all the strings to pull in communications to look like virtuous defenders of customers' buying power, as opposed to the "traditional" economy.  An army of lobbyists and lawyers battle against all the laws that could stand in the way of their expansion. In many cases, boards of administration do not play their role of regulator to support long-term growth of a business project, but instead focus on the prices on the stock exchange and the short-term interest of shareholders.

But since when has liberalism been the jungle? Since when has the "free enterprise" spirit had to go hand in hand with disloyal competition? Unrestrained deregulation leads to justifying the law of the mightiest; why then should they feel a need constrained by country, state or city rules, however hard the local authorities fight to enforce fair trade? The fiscally stateless do not worry about the fact that their business contributes to the global impoverishment of public resources and the precipitation of the collapse of companies that were not prepared for frontal impact.

It would be a bit facile to take advantage of globalization combined with the powerlessness of governments and pretend to be some kind of Superman defending consumers. These businesses are the same ones who collect trillions of individual data to feed big data. Their algorithms analyze the data to pinpoint profiles and offer tailor-made suggestions. But where does intuitive marketing stop and become intrusive marketing? Particularly when data floats off to rest on a borderless Cloud, with no control over how it is used...

In all sectors, the lack of respect for a minimum of deontology has led to confusing genres. We cannot pretend to guard the temple and audit the biggest corporations when the right hand certifies the accounts while the left optimizes portfolio valuations, when the brain’s right hemisphere offers strategic advice while the left analyzes balances.

A few thousand years ago, the Romans invented law, bringing healthy rules to life in a democracy that was encouraged by the Greeks. It wasn’t such a bad idea and it would be erroneous to stray away from it. The “cash cows”, who respect the rules of the game and State finances, are in a weak position with respect to their borderless predators that are emptying their Cardexes, and unloading their business assets and tax revenues. The lack of sanctions encourages cheaters to push their limits a bit further. The legal restoration of control is not protectionism, as those who are currently enjoying the comfort of the current legislation would have us believe, but a way to prevent the rule of the mightiest from replacing that of the fairest law.

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

g.panayotis@mkg-group.com

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