By Georges Panayotis
M&MS these are three magic letters to keep as a mantra. M for marque -brand- an image and notoriety that are indispensables to any company. M for management because without people, without their skills, a company is nothing. And, finally, S, for strategy, because without any long-term vision, a business cannot survive.
To keep brands alive, it is necessary to be surrounded by designers, marketers, disruptors, chief digital officers who can develop brands and attractive products. Thanks to the creativity of the human mind they will find a way to speak to the client more readily than any algorithm or computer. It is also necessary to invest to build their renown, create a buzz and maintain their notoriety and their image. Lately, there has been a growing belief that with distribution, brands had become unimportant and unnecessary. That’s a big mistake. Success is not just about market shares, leadership and product performance, it is also measured in terms of the emotional value of brands, which is indispensable in our profession where the competition is increasingly harsh.
The world’s hotel industry has major brands that have been established in the minds of consumers for many years, but some lose their aura because they have not been sufficiently refreshed. It comes as a surprise that distribution asks high commissions, but it must not be forgotten that it is the distribution that brings the customer, and no longer the brand. OTAs could have needed to create white label accommodations, as the food retail sector has done, but we offered them ours ready to go.
Our little world has changed, and at the end of the day it's all for the better because these changes offer us new opportunities. Nonetheless, watch out for the disaster looming before us. No brands, no visibility, no voice in the chapter and no potential loyalty. If we ask guests how they choose their accommodations, it will come as no surprise when Booking, Expedia or Airbnb is the answer.
Management is one of the cornerstones to business success. The new generation of millennials looks at their professional life differently than previous. It is important to adapt training and management to new generations. Pyramid structures are no longer adapted to the decision-making speed that is now required in the corporate world. Everyone must be able to develop their maximum autonomy and improve their skills.
Nonetheless, we must ask ourselves the right questions. How is it possible for a sector as dynamic as ours, in full growth, with years of profitability behind it, to be struggling to recruit, to be so poorly valued? Maybe we haven’t done everything to please.
It is unthinkable to not have an integrated corporate strategy that is developed, visionary and shared with collaborators. It is impossible to create a short-term financial strategy that only weakens the company and its assets.
The asset-light policy adopted by hotel groups is perfectly understandable for them to concentrate on their development and their core business that is the customer experience. But in a major industry like ours, it is necessary to look far ahead. It is necessary to have property owners that can make major investments to develop and modernize the supply to meet customer needs. Some foreign investors have been granted tax breaks, why not also offer them to French investors? This would make it possible to implement a dynamic and attractive supply policy, since landowners only ask to finance new projects and renovate existing ones when there is sufficient profitability. This must go hand in hand with the strategy of operators, brands, concepts and products, which must also be strong, attractive and perform well. Some concepts are no longer up to date and should disappear.