If you want to enter the hospitality sector, start small and get financial support. But be aware that scaling up beyond a certain threshold can be tremendously hard.
That was the advice from the head of one of the world’s largest hotel groups, Accor chairman and group CEO Sébastien Bazin.
“If it’s your dream or passion, just do it and make sure somebody actually helps you financially to do it, Bazin said. “Start with three, four, or five six bedrooms. Be authentic, be sincere, be warm, and welcoming.”
“The difficulty is not to start but to scale,” Bazin said. “To go from one hotel to 12 hotels.”
Accor’s leader said that it’s quite difficult for entrepreneurs to scale up hotel businesses above a certain level, partly because they need to rely on third-party middlemen for distribution to fill their rooms.
“They don’t have the size, and the tendency is to go to the online travel agencies, and they’re going to be eating your lunch,” Bazin said. “Then you have the big gorillas like me knocking on the door, and you’re going to end up working for Accor.”
“Many people have [created regional hotel groups] but could not grow them further,” Bazin said. “It’s a tough business in which you have some tough big guys who really don’t like you to grow that much.”
Advice to Hoteliers, Too
Bazin was also asked about what was something he “hates” about the hotel industry from the personal perspective of being a traveler. He said it was the trouble the hotel sector had in giving its young employees the resources, training, and support they need to thrive in their front-line and behind-the-scenes jobs.
“I was staying at a hotel, and this morning I went to check out, and there was a very young, nice gentleman,” Bazin said. “He must have been 22 or 23 years old — impeccably dressed. And he was in a total panic.”
“He just didn’t have the proper training,” Bazin said. “I don’t like it when people in front of you lose their self-esteem because they cannot operate the way they should operate, and it’s not their fault.”
“We as industry leaders should be better equipping and training our people and giving them what expertise they need,” Bazin said. “Our industry will be stronger if we have hundreds of thousands of different young people who probably never went to college, and we give them chances in life.”