The Las Vegas Syndrome
By Georges Panayotis, President & CEO - MKG Group
Economic globalization has not - fortunately - brought an end to the substantive differences that characterize, in particular, consumer behavior and that must orient the strategy of businesses.
The "Las Vegas syndrome", which takes the properties with 3,000 rooms that need to be filled daily as a model, catches imaginations when it would much better to substitute it with the "Pézenas model", meaning a careful and personalized examination of the motivations driving customers to this destination in the heart of the Hérault. Even more than a difference of scale, it is a cultural difference that stands between the two models. The hotel business in Europe is mostly a "local" business, that expresses itself at the heart of the "primary zone" that is the neighborhood, extending to the city and the region.
Knowledge of the area and the patient work to branch out that allow the property to anchor itself in its community are fundamental to not falling into commonplaceness, which facilitates substitution. Unlike major US destinations - may be with exception to major European seaside or mountain resorts -, a property is not just a "room capacity" to be filled indifferently. It is a living place, a stage for an experience, that is renewed and affirmed each day. Most of Europe's great cities also rely on their history and culture that are different from one riverbank to the other and from one neighborhood to the next. Hotel properties may be a part of this approach inspired by the concept of Paris and its 100 villages. It is not a question of rejecting the technological tools that were imagined with much help from IT, but to adapt them to the local context. Ready-made"IT solutions" do not offer an efficient response. It is up to the director of each property to create his own tools while taking the local market into consideration. In so doing, he regains a constructive autonomy with respect to injunctions from headquarters.
Revenue management cannot be anonymous, it is the result of precise knowledge of clientele, and it relies as much on satisfaction measures as on occupancy history. Even in major cities, which are the gateways for major international migration flows, the management of volumes cannot be detached from a more personal, more individual approach. Hoteliers made a major error when they looked to online agencies as the way to save on marketing. Now they are paying for it, being considered as a vast reserve of rooms available online that are differentiated only by location and price.
Of course, recapturing some freedom of decision means implementing rules, but also a change in attitude of hoteliers, who must renew the unique value of their "product". Mediocrity and lack of personality can condemn hotel operators to relying on unscrupulous middlemen, but they cannot go and complain about the conditions imposed if they have lost the spirit of their trade.
Founder, Chairman & CEO