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Previously a 2006 Bachelor graduate in ‘International Hotel Management’at Vatel Bordeaux, Gwenaël Olivo assumed various managerial roles at prestigious hotels and restaurants. She shares her opinion on what awaits the hotel sector in the future.

Gwenaël Olivo recalls her time at Vatel Bordeaux in 2006 and sees it as a pivotal phase in her career. “Being a Vatel graduate is a great gateway to the industry. It opened many doors for me.” She remembers the vibrant atmosphere of the Bordeaux campus. Since graduation, she has held many positions both in the restaurant and the hotel sectors. She is now in charge of the South-western area at the “Les Collectionneurs” group, a community of 585 distinctive family-owned hotels and charming independant restaurants. Let’s find out more about her views regarding the future of the hotel-restaurant sector.

In the face of Covid-19 crisis, save your restaurant thanks to the state-sponsored loan

The main challenge for hospitality institutions, amidst the health crisis, is to navigate through difficulties while avoiding irreversible damage, at a time when specialists predict a definite closure of half of the restaurants in France  as a result of the crisis.

Gwenaël Olivo encourages professionals to use all available means to stay afloat, and resort first to the PGE state-sponsored loan. Introduced last March, this grant can reach up to 10.000€ for companies with less than 10 employees and 50.000€ for companies with less than 50 employees. Its rate is between 1 and 2,5% and it is repayable over a period of 1 to 5 years. However, this swift financial support tool did not appeal much to the liberal restaurant professionals. According to Le Figaro Newspaper, 2/3 of the restaurant owners did not subscribe to this loan.

What are the reasons?

– The lack of visibility as to the reopening dates of restaurants and thus the evolution of their turnover.
– The fear of not being able to reimburse. “It’s a debt”, says Stéphane Manigold, co-founder of the Restons Ouverts collective and owner of many restaurants in Paris.

The heartfelt call of the previous owner of the Le Garage restaurant is of great significance given the profiles of Les Collectionneurs members and the liberal nature of their establishments. “Keep your business afloat by resorting to every possible aid”, she says.
Even in non-troubled time, the sustainability of an establishment requires a rigorous financial management scheme.

Gwenaël Olivo – Responsable réseau sud-ouest chez les Collectionneurs-

Restaurant owners, make sure you control all your costs

Apart from the value of the goodwill, the tiniest costs should be taken into consideration in order to optimize a company’s budget: “In the hotel-restaurant sector, people are generally the passionate type and we often tend to disregard minor costs. For instance, knowing the price of each dish during service hours or the retail price of bedlinen in a hotel remain very important”, explains the previous director of hotel and restaurant groups.

This management method leads to substantial savings and increases the profitability of the institution. To reap better benefits, it is also advisable to hire the services of a cost controller.

Our alumni praises the capacity of professionals to adapt to innovation. « They will need to continue exploring this path », she says.

Hotel professionals: why not offer a true experience to your guests

These past few years, we have been witnessing the development of slow tourism and the concept of home-like hotels. Hotels don’t aspire to offer a mere hotel stay anymore but “rather a homey experience adapted to each hotel setting”3. Guests nowadays are eager to experience immersion and authenticity, a trend that will further unfold in the future.

This desire to innovate and provide a profound experience is what drives Gwenaël Olivo. “When I was the General Manager of Château Hôtel Meyre, we had the following at offer:
– Wine tasting packages
– Visits of wine cellars animated by wine cellar experts
– Encounters with remarkable people such as Guillemette Gauthier, 1st French oenologist

“To enhance your wine tourism offerings, it is preferable to provide a lodging option in the same location,” explains our Bordeaux expert. She adds: “Specialized websites such as 1001 salles, abcsalles or bird-office provide a list of hotels equipped with venues and facilities dedicated to seminars. You will however need to choose whether to host a virtual, an in-person or a hybrid conference, an important decision due to the uncertainty surrounding the health crisis”.

Home deliveries, Click & Collect will be sustained and guests will return to restaurants!

The three lockdowns have accelerated the shift towards many new phenomena, such as home delivery. Previously restricted to quick-service restaurants, the trend is now at its peak and expanded to Michelin star restaurants. The opportunity to order a meal via a food delivery platform and collect it in one’s preferred restaurant is gaining a wide appeal. Moreover, the website « Sortir à Paris » suggests a list of bars, cafés, brasseries, and restaurants providing both options, indexed according to districts4. Additionally, the weekly magazine Le Point published a list of its favorites Click & Collect options5. Les Collectionneurs decided also to ride this wave through promoting its members, notably those providing the home delivery options. “Home delivery and Click & Collect services will be sustained in the near future, and I am also convinced that clients will go back to bars and restaurants, once they reopen. We noticed the same trend after first lockdown”, argues Gwenaël Olivo.

A mixture of these different consumption models is therefore beneficial for your institution, as explained by Fabien and Emilie Beaufour, owners of Cent33, during Vatel’ conference on the future of Food & Beverage sector, following COVID-19 crisis.

The presence of humans at the reception will be exclusive to luxury hotels in 2030

In 2015, Henn Na hotel in Nagasaki (Japan) made headlines, as the first hotel in the world to have a fully robot staff. But soon enough, the innovation suffered from a system dysfunctionality and was weakened by cost of maintenance and complaints from guests. Three years later, half of the 243 employed were pulled out, and that put an end to the robot frenzy.

If robots replace receptionists, Gwenaël Olivo fears the disappearance of the human touch, which is what greets a guest when he first enters a hotel. “The presence of humans at the reception will probably be exclusive to luxury hotels in 2030”. Just as with the Mario robot receptionist at the Marriott hotel in Gand (Belgium), it seems that robots will be accompanied by humans. Undoubtedly, robots can perform repetitive tasks, but when it comes to performing more complex missions such as dealing with customer requests, a human brain is certainly more appropriate.

Humans still have promising days ahead in the hotel sector in general, and that includes front desk.

Whatever its size or operating area, a hotel or restaurant should meet the growing challenge in the years to come, to have a good image on the internet, given that the number of internet users grew by 2,5 in 10 years. How to reach this target?

Hotel & restaurant professionals: Outsource your E-Reputation to better manage it

According to WeAreSocial and Houtsuite platforms, out of 7,75 billion people, internet users account to 4, 54 billion, which equates to 59% of the world population. Thus, the importance of E-Reputation which, in definition, is « the result of what is published about an entity, a brand, an enterprise, regardless of the author”

According to the website Slideminder, 85% of clients argue that “a wise response to a review enhances the perception internet users have of a hotel”

Every firm should therefore invest in its E-Reputation, as part of the overall advertisement budget. My advice is to outsource the E-Reputation management, especially when it comes to independent hotels. Given their workload, they don’t have the time to deal with the reviews on a daily basis, even though it would be the right thing to do. Their turnover could benefit from that. “This requires a specific technical proficiency and a certain mindset. Platforms such as Qualitelis advise on how to publish appropriate reactions to the negative reviews and how to highlight the most positive reviews about your institution”, adds Gwenaël.

Are you looking for other views from hotel and restaurant professionals regarding the crisis and the opportunities that arise from it? Read the opinions expressed by directors of upscale hotel in the Gironde area.