By Georges Panayotis
At the dawn of the French Revolution, Mirabeau told Louis XVI: "Sir, when we look at where the good heads led France, perhaps we might try the bad ones." Could there be any resemblance to what we are experiencing now? It is too late to rewrite history, but it is high time we learned from our mistakes. The first is not putting enough emphasis on productivity. The hotel industry is one of the few sectors where the value added per hour worked has not changed over the last two decades, while it has been soaring in other sectors, such as new technologies as well as in traditional industries. In this context, only prices had shown gains in earnings and valuations in previous years in a dynamic that is now unsustainable.
This productivity issue must therefore be faced head-on to reinvent ourselves, because today's hotel owner can no longer be a mere innkeeper. He must rethink how space and time are used, especially during the day, with day use and coworking among other things… the time has come to export – on the franchisee side as well – just as the big names in French cuisine have done for a long time now. Why are French hoteliers so reluctant to globalize, when success just may be accessible?
In order to succeed in a world where value for money is being restored to its rightful place, it will be necessary to work on concepts. All that is "collaborative" has been widely criticized lately, but its legitimacy is partly due to the fact that we have not innovated enough in our sector. France is full of exceptional heritage (such as castles, public buildings, monuments, museums, etc.) that tourism and hotel operators could put to better use if they were able to reach new customers and offer new experiences – which the new platforms can make possible. At a time when sustainable development is a fundamental trend, what could be better than to be able to "recycle" the existing buildings that constitute the charm of our regions?
In all areas, new concepts and new niches are just waiting to emerge. One example lies in the evolution of public opinion regarding medicines, systematic care through chemistry, and the rise of alternative approaches where food often plays a central role. This is, of course, an opportunity to develop F&B concepts (natural, vitamins, organic…), and perhaps even revive entire industries and territories. Look at our spas or tourist resorts: in many cases, time – and the Capex – seem to come to a standstill somewhere in the last century. Perhaps these new concepts will rejuvenate them tomorrow. All that is old once held life and we would be well advised to capitalize on our roots and those of our customers who are a powerful engine when it comes to building and innovating on solid foundations and bringing strong differentiation to our products.
Socialization and artificial intelligence are the two legs on which the new concepts must be based. Creating interaction between empathy and the effectiveness brought by artificial intelligence will allow us to better respond to customers' desires and expectations.
In order to succeed in this endeavor, it will not only be necessary to recycle old recipes, but also to find, for all products, the new key factors that will make the difference for each customer profile. In short, it is time to open up a new cycle in which "socialization" and "customer experience" are longer peripheral services but core services of our products.