Industry Update
Opinion Article28 November 2018

In the European culture, hospitality is a common denominator

By Georges Panayotis, President & Founder of MKG Group & Hospitality ON

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Is our planet universal? What factors have led to the birth of so many different civilizations? Have not climates, topographies, fauna and flora contributed to the shaping of cultures with very specific rites, identities and references? If the soil is universal, Earth may be less so. Humans, meanwhile, aspire to universality and globalization but will always feel the need to refocus. In our sector as well as elsewhere, our world is constantly regenerating itself in an infinite succession of cycles. We are constantly retracing our steps, certainly, with a better vision than on our previous trip thanks to the progress we have made, but we continue to return to our starting point, to our roots. History shows us that we are seeking universality, but we inevitably return to our origins.

This apparent paradox between regionalization and globalization is clearly reflected within our industry. At the beginning of the current cycle, we sought standardization to guarantee the quality of our hotel products on the one hand and to leverage development on the other. By importing American models into Europe, groups such as AccorHotels were able to quickly develop an offer that found its audience.Today, the clientele of our hotels and restaurants clearly aspire to a return to their roots. All the brands that emerge and prosper are highly differentiating and, for the most part, firmly established in their territories. We offer local cuisine, we bring in local decorators, we bring artists inside , we offer services to the people who live in the neighborhood... In short, we firmly establish ourselves in a district or even in the region and we differentiate ourselves. All the brands now developed by hotel groups try to be lifestyle brands, we want to welcome people as if they were at home, but better still, we want to be able to satisfy all desires, we propose to come to a new tribe on site and via social networks. Some even play on the maternal side like Mama Shelter which welcomes you as if you were at home or Big Mama which brings a little piece of Italy to your doorstep and even recruits Italian employees.

The concepts that are currently working and being developed all have a very rich corporate culture such as Citizen M. Where employees are considered brand ambassadors and will in turn welcome, serve and advise their guests. A different way of conceiving reception professions that places less emphasis on competence than on interpersonal skills, proactivity and a sense of service. The hospitality industry has always been a great global family where you can start your career on one side of the globe and end it on the other. This assertion is even more true today with the digital tools that are transforming work and globalizing the world. All job offers are just a click away and everyone can become their own ambassador and work on their brand image.
Universities and schools must take these profound changes into account and be able to train global citizens by developing their skills and their interpersonal skills in particular.

Tourism is one of Europe's flagships, the majority of international tourists come to Europe, so let us act and implement a truly unifying, ambitious and effective European policy. Because danger looms. The Gafa suck up our customers' data and gradually steal our added value by dispossessing hotel groups of their levers of action. Europe is a continent with a thousand-year history, with many facets. Our heritage, cultural and even geographical resources are almost inexhaustible. There is nothing like it to seduce and satisfy a traveller in on a quest for meaning and local colour. On a global level, the Old Continent, through its genes and history, is deeply rooted in hospitality.

Georges Panayotis

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