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by Georges Panayotis 

Does the hotel industry still have a future? One might wonder since each day a new sharing economy website tries to divest it, to dispossess it of its vocation as a professionalized place for accommodating travelers. While these sites are clearly successful, this may be because they have pinpointed their weaknesses that are exacerbated by habit.

Even if it may be illusory, sharing a table, place settings and the bathroom with a real Parisian, New Yorker or Barcelonan... who will provides the keys to his city and neighborhood, has become the latest thing. This shift of values is, however, one of the founding pillars of the hotel industry that has gotten a bit lost in its meanderings in real estate and finances. When it became a major industry, it attracted new talents, covered with diplomas and expertise, to take on the new challenges of distribution, marketing, information systems, asset management throughout the hypertrophy of headquarters that progressively absorbed the decision making power of other areas of the business.

But hotel businesses are not exactly like the others. The career prospects of the new technocrats must not make us forget the beauty of the hotel business in practice, when it is practiced on the field, in contact with customers and the rest of personnel. The human values connected to the vocation of hotelier are defended daily and through constant interaction. This is what makes it possible to feel the evolution of needs and expectations. The customer experience, which lies at the heart of marketing campaigns, depends first and foremost on contact with passionate professionals.

One of the foundations of the sector has always been to enable rapid growth based on experience and merit. This social ladder that is accessible to employees without much formal training can quickly become an elevator for more ambitious young employees who are ready to join internal programs. But lately this elevator has become more of a flat conveyor belt that moves ahead without rising to higher levels due to a lack of clear vision and ambition.

To win the battle, today the profession needs to create new services, making hospitality a daily standard. An ambition just to stimulate real talents at a time when everyone seems to believe they can turn themselves into hospitality professionals. Contrary to what we are often led to believe, for many young people entering a career in hospitality is a real ambition. It is important for them to cultivate this vocation and not fall into the reassuring framework of superstructures that thwarts their growth. The federating vision of our sector is due to a combination of real talents that are as well formed on the field as in the best schools, provided these young people are driven by the same desire to serve the customer rather than simply improve their curriculum vitae.

A balance must be reestablished to encourage operations over support functions that have grown extensively. "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today," said Eleanor Roosevelt. Renew a vision, breathe new life and legitimacy into the hotel model, while defying the forecasts that offer a gloomy outlook on the business's perspectives: that is a fine ambition for the future.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, 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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