By Georges Panayotis
It's about time we stopped believing in Santa Claus. None of us has his abilities, his resources or a myth as powerful as his own. After early childhood, it seems absurd to all of us that a single man, however powerful he may be, could possibly take care of gifts for all the children in the world. So how can we imagine being effective and meeting customer expectations with marketers who are only present at headquarters and who have gradually lost touch with daily realities?
It is not by chance that companies are transforming and focusing on horizontality, nor is it by chance that most of the initiatives that win everyone's support are local. Hotel groups would do well to learn from it or risk becoming colossi with clay feet. There is no doubt that in order to best meet customer expectations and stand out, it is necessary to draw from the local pool.
For a long time, hotel groups imagined themselves as Santa Claus with oversized seats and a central power that took all the decisions in terms of products, marketing, distribution… but no hotel group can claim to have a brand as strong in image and notoriety as Christmas, so we must adapt. Integrate this paradox of regionalism and even localism in the face of globalization. This is a fundamental trend and it would be futile to want to stop it. The consumer wants to return to the land, to the good things, to authenticity. Who would we be if we didn't provide it? Let us make no mistake about it, if hoteliers are incapable of meeting this expectation, others do it well.
Locals are taking over and that's good. Franchisors need franchisees to play an important role in servuction, which will allow them to focus on promoting the destination with appropriate global tools. It is no coincidence that IHG has strengthened its team in France, products such as Accor Local and Nextdoor are flourishing and will undoubtedly grow. It is high time to get buy again because so far, few truly innovative initiatives have come from the profession.
Returning to the roots will allow each property to stand out, to welcome its guests with an extra touch that will enrich the famous customer experience. We are all, without exception, in constant search for meaning. The explosion of healthy eating, the refocusing on oneself and one's family, on one's community, are clear indicators of this need, which is only human, at a time when everything is moving faster and further.
By trusting our employees, by giving them the opportunity to get ever more involved, like the project that was rewarded at the last Worldwide Hospitality Awards, The Heartist, we will build a warm, welcoming, memorable and comforting hospitality.
We are coming to the end of a cycle in which hotel managers and their employees were dispossessed of their roles. They are the ones who manufacture servuction because they are in direct contact with the customer.
So "let's cultivate our garden" and thank Voltaire for this common sense sentence that helps us not to forget that everyone at our level must do everything possible to move forward and that keeping in touch with our ecosystem will help us do so. What are the nuggets around me that I can promote to my customers? What else can my employees do for my customers? How can I provide that extra soul that is necessary to make a difference and build a lasting and profitable relationship with my customer base? This is an essential question and the current debates made by the Yellow Vests must challenge us, the hotels, to safeguard the purchasing power of our employees if we want them to continue to deliver a quality service while remaining as committed as ever to their missions.