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by Georges Panayotis

Take a sector that brings together the leaders in the global ranking in its category. An economic activity that, not only participates in that country’s international glory, but provides work for a million employees and feeds the economy with at least as many derived jobs. One would think that it would surely receive the careful attentions of the country’s leaders to prevent such a productive machine from breaking down… Especially in these trying times. However, that would happen in a pragmatic country, in a country that values success and provides the support needed to get through difficult times or lay the foundations for development.

But no, all too often, they assume that success will just happen, and that it is even a bit suspicious and must be drained of all that is good before nothing is left. A little tax here, an increase in the VAT there, new regulations and a bit more complexity regarding social legislation to top it all off.

If only we could believe that the regulators, who are expected to provide a propitious framework for economic activity, would not get in the way of their champion. But that would be too good... It would not be modern! Start-ups need to grow up and feed off the fat of the enterprises that laid the foundations for them, even if it means putting them at risk. The discourse is ambiguous for the arrival of new players even if it is natural for them to find their place.

The world looks at France and sees it as blessed by the grace of the gods. No country can really rival with this accumulation of culture, gastronomy, diversity of landscapes and climates, the variety of athletics and entertainment on a single, easily accessible territory... So, how did we manage to create a sneaky version of "He who is most able succeeds in doing the least."

For a decade or so, the hotel sector has been losing its means to invest and develop on all sides. We ask it to be more agile and yet weigh it down with constraints. We ask it to reinvent itself and create new offers while limiting credit and selling property that should be its preserve to the highest bidder.

While brandishing figures about tourist arrivals, everyone wants to believe that the future is necessarily prosperous, and it is true that the sector's resiliency with respect to an uninterrupted succession of crises and geopolitical upset is truly astonishing. But we have come to the end: while they are not negative, the margins generated by hotel enterprises are 4 to 5 points smaller than the homologues in the primary neighboring countries. Tourism in Paris and France in general are not promoted to their fullest. The sector is not progressing and changing quickly enough to rival the country's competitors, which don't miss a chance to snatch up any clientele that are avoiding the country.

It is time to speed up the emancipation of the offer and energy. Investors are at hand, but they are unable to finalize their business plan since the rules of the game keep changing. There are not so many sectors that have growth areas the way the tourism and hotel sectors do. We have created as many revenues as arms contracts. This deserves the same recognition as the hyper-publicized sale of a dozen submarines. The French are champions when it comes to producing five-year recovery plans, charting schemes that out-invent one another: it's high time they were put to use!

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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