Does France Need to Work on the French Art of Welcoming?

I recently met with Olivier Carvin, CEO for the Maranatha Group. We were able to exchange our views on the French art of welcoming. 

What is your point of view on the French art of welcoming? Does France possess something specific compared to other countries?

Something specific, I don’t know, but an expertise, yes, and one on which we rest our laurels too much. We do not exercise it enough. All the same, we have the best food service industry in the world. We are the #1 tourist destination in the world, but only 4th in terms of sales, since we still have yet to develop that element. We have yet to reach the top in that sector, and service remains very expensive in France.

We nonetheless possess incredible sites that make our country what it is. When we look at the Côte d’Azur, the Alps with Mont Blanc, even when passing through Paris, we come to realize that no other country assembles a landscape of that kind with as many treasures.

What is it that currently prevents service in France from rising up to global expectations?

I think that it’s the rigor of the work entailed, in relation to daily life. This line of work belongs to those who are passionate, given the time and family constraints that it poses. We have to remember, too, that passion is something that can wear out over time.

To keep our colleagues motivated, we work along two axes:

  1. The quality of the renovation of our establishments, since a cleaning woman, for instance, will be more inclined to work in a newly furbished room than in a room that has been left to waste.
  2. The delegation and human quality of the management of the teams. At least, that is what we are trying to establish in each hotel. This encourages people to take initiative.

And with these two angles in place, people become very responsible and autonomous. We want them to personally flourish in their line of work. I don’t know if this is enough, but as it stands, our “turnover” is very low.

With regard to digital, what is going to change in a hotel, in the path of the client?

It’s a tricky question, since I think no one really has an answer. Because on one hand, there are people who say that we have to scale down reception, and therefore scale down the human aspect. But as we’ve said before, the human touch is important. I remain convinced that there are limits to digital innovations. The human aspect remains important. But in every case, we have to remain in step with the current times, with the current universe of film, music, email…we can’t let ourselves head down the path of creating a hotel that is dehumanized.

maranatha laurent delporte
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