Xavier Destribats, Chief Operating Officer at The Americas at Kempinski Hotels
Xavier Destribats oversees operations in The Americas, a fast-growing region of strategic significance for Kempinski, as a Member of the Management Board of Kempinski Hotels SA. In this role, Xavier has dual responsibility: on the one hand, strengthening the company’s position and building momentum in the region, while directly overseeing the openings and ongoing operations of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, Cuba (as General Manager) and the Cabrits Resort Kempinski, Dominica.
What is Kempinski’s approach to attracting and cultivating the best talent?
Obviously, hardware is important, but we firmly believe that software is also important. At Kempinski, we have engaged a serious outside company to do employee surveys. We are now analyzing the results of this year of our employee satisfaction and engagement. We want to make sure that we have more and more employees who are engaged and who follow our vision and our mission. This is the only way we will make sure that we have the best employees on the market in order to deliver the best services.
What is your vision of luxury hotels in 5 to 10 years?
At Kempinski, we aim at expanding in destinations where we are not yet present. For instance, we are opening next year in Riga and we are also working on a very interesting project in Cuba. In the next 5 years, we will be in about 30 other destinations where we are not now. We have 75 hotels. We will have 105 hotels. We continue to be small. We believe luxury is limited. That is our philosophy.
In terms of products and services, we are putting our efforts in having the best Wi-Fi in our hotels. Kempinski will be following everything that is being done in order to make our service better for our customers.
What is your advice to students for succeeding in luxury hotels?
For a young student who will soon graduate or has recently graduated from hotel school or even business school, they have so many opportunities. They can work in a watch company, a hotel company, an IT company, computer company, even in banks. This is different from maybe 20 years ago, when we started, when we had a traditional way of climbing in a company or in a hotel. I think it’s important that you go and work in a bank in asset management, or you go and work in a watch company in a clientele service. It’s important nowadays that you not necessarily go the traditional route of climbing a ladder in a hotel, but to experience new geographies and even different positions in a hotel.
What is the art of welcoming in Kempinski Hotels?
At Kempinski, we believe that every destination has its own particular attributes. For example, we don’t do in Berlin what we do in Munich. Our hospitality is really geared to each city on what is specific to each city. We try to be different. It’s a little bit like the collection of the Fabergé eggs. All of our properties are different, and we cater different services.
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.