Interview with Mr. Quentin Arnould, General Manager, l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Bangkok
He is a member of the NGO Ô Services. Ô Services, is the association was formed with the goal of uniting people from the various spheres of the profession. Their approach involves addressing the youth: convincing them, encouraging them, guiding them, and accompanying them…
Quentin Arnould was born and raised in the Champagne region of France, Quentin’s hunger for learning has taken him to London, Paris, Melbourne and Singapore. He has worked for some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athene, Paris and managed the French fine dining of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok – Le Normandie
Quentin has a meticulous attention to detail and is committed to excellence. Always ready for a new challenge, nothing makes him happier than discovering innovative new products and ideas to share with his customers.
1) What is your professional approach to the Thai art of welcoming?
It’s quite difficult to define the Thai way of welcoming. Thais are welcoming people by nature. It’s in their genes and culture. They can demonstrate care and welcoming acts in an authentic and genuine manner. Thailand is nicknamed the land of smiles and that’s for good reason. Visitors of the kingdom are always struck by the ever-smiling, gracious and pleasing attitude of Thai people.
Defining the French way of welcoming is equally hard for me. Although a French national, I have barely worked in France and left my country at an early stage of my career. So my perception of French way of welcoming might be erroneous, but here is how I would define it: a heritage of tradition and rituals which has been codified to exercise great efficiency, technique and rigor.
So, as a French working in Thailand, I try to bind the two; by joining the genuine hospitality of Thais with the technicality of the French service. This goes in par with current movements promoting SERVICE in France, where Maitre D’s and restaurant directors nurture the values of generosity, care and kindness.
2) What experiences do you deliver? What are the main characteristics of the service you offer compared to the other hotels of the city?
A core message I try to convey to my team is that there is not one way of welcoming but as many ways as we have guests in the house. Every individual requires a constant adaptation from us to welcome him in the best way: HIS WAY. In the world of service there is no wrong and no bad, no French or Thai way: the guest perception’s is our reality.
Working in an Atelier is a total different working method than in a traditional restaurant, in this sense, I strive to deliver a different experience too. Mr Robuchon’s vision of L’Atelier is a fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere. Our team and I work to enhance human relationship by seeking more kindness, more simplicity, more generosity and more authenticity in our interactions. The experience must be unique and personalized.
3) Is your international experience useful in your role as a manager at the Robuchon restaurant?
That’s a fact. We always gain from experiences with different cultures. I had opportunity to work in Paris, London, Melbourne, Singapore and now Bangkok, and all these experiences have made me who I am today. I’ve learnt from my co-workers and guest alike. If I need to remember one thing from of all those years, it would be to pass over prejudices, especially with guest, and to have this willingness to improve without fearing changes. Actually Mr Robuchon is very sensible to this notion of culture. I never had the opportunity of working for him before, but the fact that I previously worked in Thailand before, made him trust me for to be lead L’Atelier – Bangkok.
4) Each employee is an ambassador of his hotel and the promise of expected services. What actions do you put in place to involve your team in the success of the customer experience? How do you motivate them so that they give the best of themselves?
Thais are very different than French, they are not careerist, they instead value human relationship within their organization. They are more interest in working with their coworker with whom they have fun at work than for a big international and reputable organization. As a manager, I need to ensure a strong team spirit and a good working environment. I was once told that a manager has two kinds of guests: the outside guest: the one who come to eat and the inside guest: your staff. If your team feels you are genuinely here for them, they will then open up, become very loyal and then only, you can start teaching them about technics and rigor and push them to deliver more. But you need to win their heart first. It’s a fantastic and thrilling human adventure.
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.