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by Georges Panayotis

There's a trend underway in the hospitality world, and any reference to an evolution in the world of politics is not totally fortuitous. Like traditional training programs that are going the way of the dodo, some hotel groups that tend to rest on their laurels are also threatened with extinction.

Attentive observers of the hotel world have observed systematic foot dragging among major traditional actors each time their universe evolves. Distribution delay, customer relations, community management delay, digital marketing delay, operational staff management delay, productive investment, CAPEX and R&D delays. The energy and capital spent thereafter to avoid being outrun by new players are not enough to regain leadership.

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" This proverb partly justifies recent strategies taken by some that dip into their competitors' territory, even if it means reducing and following their rules. But in-so-doing they risk changing gravitational model and shifting status from attractive planet to orbiting satellite. The economic world is at least as cruel as the political world. The customer as elector seeks legitimacy and takes the same mischievous delight in undoing what he or she built in the first place.

The new generation is even less respectful of customs and protocol. It mocks useless quarrels and divisions that cause players to tear one another to pieces. It is in this regard that it is necessary to be able to accept the position new hospitality firms have assumed. Far from shrinking, the universe regularly encompasses new planets that play a role in the system. It creates black holes that can rapidly absorb those that have stopped radiating. Although closing is popular, it is far from being a new notion and does not only impact corporations.

Managers also must ask themselves about the governing model. Balances of power must regain a new equilibrium between the current ultra power of financiers, which have a necessarily capitalist vision of their commitment, and the operating staff of their partners and suppliers that wish to share orientations of the industrial strategy. Without it confidence collapses and relations are tense. Managers leave and, as is often the case, the best are snatched up by rising stars. The social elevator is no longer the best way because new talents are recruited from outside the sector to bring in new blood.

And yet, the legitimacy of the hotel industry still exists, and more than ever. It feeds upon the difference service provides. It is maintained by innovation in concepts that require observation of behavior and anticipation of future needs. It asks not to have to rely solely upon partners, but also to show a veritable financial commitment. It is even able to strengthen itself despite the transition between several generations of clientele. The arrival of "Millennials" has not made "baby boomers" disappear; the latter have, in fact, increased their level of demand. The guiding principle is flexibility, in both functions and the product, which must be able to be adapted to complementary demands. Hybrid products, while they are not a cure-all, seem popular.

In business, as in politics, it is necessary to have a vision without renouncing either one's principles or one's roots. The next assembly will not be just for newcomers, both ambitious and neophytes, no matter how talented they are. It will offer wide berth to women and men who have accumulated experience and know the rules of the game, but also know how to expand their horizons. The market will favor a new approach, one that makes its interest and immediate benefice top priority with respect to more egocentric financial strategies.

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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