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by Georges Panayotis

Communication is in a crisis in a state of crisis. I’m not the one saying it. A recent poll of French people showed increasing defiance towards communications in general and the media in particular. The depravity of our politicians has done nothing to improve the situation and the credibility of journalists drops a bit further each year. While Internet is becoming the leading source of information for the younger generations that does not mean its trustworthiness is on the rise.

Disruption also came into play here and consumers are uncertain as to which saint they ought to trust to form an opinion based on credible information. Before the distinction was clear enough between the information delivered by the media, that is supposed to be objective or free from commentary, and publicity which glorified the product to create desire, a desire to buy. Today everything is getting mixed up with the fearless use of all the traditional and digital channels by "communicators" responsible for delivering messages.

By trying to invest all the circuits to be sure of missing no one, the messages are confusing, hesitating between false complicity from social networks and the sublimed image of advertising. The loss of trust that has taken over customers and a kind of rejection are understandable. Once upon a time, Club Med was the perfect example of the winning combination of emotional communication - symbolized by simple words evoking happiness on vacation combined with its full transposition in the Clubs thanks to the involvement of GOs and Village Chiefs. And then the situation worsened due to a lack of investment in the "plumbing" and the demobilization of some personnel following the management crisis. It took a while for the management team to rethink the model, make up for shortfalls, regain the confidence of the faithful, attract new followers. While bad tidings heralded the disappearance of the model after the end of the Trigano era, perseverance paid off and it moved forward and continued to perform.

The hotel industry will follow the same path if direct relations are not restored between the properties themselves, their personnel at all levels and clients whose loyalty needs reconquering. "Likes" on a community network or a "good grade" on the feedback website do not constitute quality marketing relations. Digital cannot replace the real connection cultivated within each property. The brand communication campaign is only pertinent if it takes shape through the realization of the promise. Providing services implies attracting as much attention to the message as the product, invest as much in communication as in the producing the actual service. Giving autonomy and power back to local players could deflect the Club Med syndrome that suffered cruelly from this disparity, at a time during its development that came from this disparity in its supply and offer and the drop in the entertainment regime, a key element to the success of its model.

This disruption does not condemn the former models, it forces self-examination. The cruise sector is a good example of such an attempt. Threatened by seeming dated, today cruises are a market in full expansion, mastering at once communication, renewal of its fleet of super liners and distribution. The hotel industry could use such a salutary shock. It is beginning to regain control over distribution, but continues to stumble when it comes to communications and loyalty development. Clients are expecting a direct connection, personal recognition, authentic contact. Above all it is necessary to not expect the solution to come from communications agencies or outsourced suppliers because we are never better served than by ourselves.

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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