Were you directly inspired by the hotel industry when you created the concept behind ORIGINAL CAMPING?
Rather than the hotel trade, I looked for inspiration from existing campsites and the spirit of ClubMed back in the old days, all while eliminating this ‘buddy-buddy’ feeling that felt totally outdated for me.
I’ve never worked in the hotel industry, but I have been a client of hotels for 45 years. The term “outdoor hotel” exists, but in my mind, it’s wrong because it doesn’t actually describe a hotel. The concept of hotels is based on concrete buildings that receive clients with a number of specific objectives, the principal being to encourage them to dine on site.
For Original Camping, this is not the top priority. What we’re really after is a sense of freedom for our clients—the freedom to choose what they want and need. You are completely at home with us.
Another point of difference with the hotel industry is that we don’t offer hotel services. Of course, we have a reception system, room service, and a restaurant, but the service remains completely relaxed and flexible. In most hotels, the client passes through a lobby and a reception hall, and everyone sees them. In our place, the client goes directly to their accommodations. He remains completely anonymous; there’s no need to pass through this reception ‘airlock’ where everyone can see him. It evokes a completely different experience.
You have succeeded in drawing in clients who have traditionally frequented hotels. Your concept appeals and responds to the demands of certain clients who are seeking out new experiences. What are your thoughts on this?
Our concept has taken hold, and it’s growing. What works to our advantage is the fact that hotels along French seaside resorts—from Brittany, Vendée, and all the way to the Côte d’Azur—are often not of very good quality. They’re usually run- down! They don’t always follow up on the services they promise; it’s too hot; the bathrooms are old and rusty; the air conditioning doesn’t work; the rooms are noisy; etc. Only the caricature of the Hotel des Flots Bleus is thoroughly up to date. Of course, there are a few top luxury hotels, but these are often growing outdated and are in need of renovation.
I also came to realize that seaside resorts in England were facing the same problem, even if, in my opinion, the situation is improving there due to global warming. England is a wealthier nation than France and offers more resources for towns like Bournemouth or Brighton. The hotel industry is reviving, and a great deal of effort goes into tourism. But this doesn’t stop the English from coming all the same to France for their vacations—along with the Dutch and the Germans.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.