The Voltaire Syndrome
April 14, 2016 8:29am
by Georges Panayotis
In light of the rising power of platforms for renting out private accommodations, hotel groups first expressed casual indifference, quickly followed by vehement outcry. But now, since the phenomenon has been established for the long-run, a third pragmatic phase is underway that includes part of the sharing model that has begun in hospitality.
"If you can't beat 'em join 'em," as the popular saying goes and that is what is taking place right now with equity participation or with the creation of collaborative offers by several hotel groups.
The arrival of the sharing economy had a salutary effect on the price/value ratio. From the hotelier's point of view it had blatantly got worse due to a shortage combined with growing demand. The "sharing economy" helped give meaning back to non-market values. In the eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the eternal idealist, insisted on these immaterial values: "Of all the things that matter to me, most cannot be bought." A few centuries later, pragmatism quickly caught up with start-ups that were developed on the principle of sharing and community spirit. Between the tools for good rate management and the "Ten commandments" of the "super host", the relationship between platform managers and their subscribers is growing imperceptibly closer to franchise and revenue management.
In the end, the two models, which are very different at first, will end up meeting and we may already bet that the commercial hotel model could carry the way in the mind of a demanding client. In response to Rousseau, Voltaire always had the right retort: "What idiot, if he had a good bed, would sleep outside?" he wrote in Dictionary of Philosophy. Why deprive oneself of the comfort and experience of service when the price/value ratio has been readjusted in the right direction? The new concepts - and those that wish to raise themselves back up - are lucky to be able to rely on increasingly "user friendly" technology.
From public spaces to rooms, from dining areas to meeting rooms, the hotel experience is undergoing a technological revolution in order to better exploit each square meter at around the clock in order to facilitate flux management, create personalized atmospheres, recreate conviviality and transport guests into an "experimental" universe far away from their habits and domestic environment. This is what made the strength of the hotel industry when it reinvented itself at the end of the last century. It had lost its ability to surprise and stay ahead of household equipment. It is both luck and an opportunity that is available as long as investment follows.
Each actor has his own role, and in his category can resuscitate what almost went missing in hotel products. Sovereign funds invest in perfecting service and preserving heritage; institutional investors and promoters finance the development of the latest generations of properties; hotel operators give new meaning to the notion of experience by breaking codes and valorizing personnel; inventors of all stripes see the hospitality industry as a formidable playing field.
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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
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