Art of welcoming
What is your business approach to the French art of welcoming? Do you think that the French art of welcoming is a differentiating factor for luxury hotels? What are the values that you emphasize when welcoming your customers?
French elegance is at the heart of Sofitel and is also, in my opinion, at the heart of the art of welcoming. At Sofitel, we create unique moments for our guests, moments that construct their experience and make their stay different from that in any other luxury hotel. Indeed, adding a French touch to all the interactions creates a magical and memorable feeling, I currently manage a breathtaking Sofitel in Bahrain in the heart of the gulf, and most of our guests are from the region. To my surprise, many of them are so appreciative of the French touch that they feel in our hotel that they’ve started greeting us with ‘Bonjour!’. And you see them enchanted by our brand-renowned appreciation to music and culture, both local and French. We at Sofitel create a mixture of both, and that develops a very unique experience.
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?
Our hotel team meets on a monthly basis. Every ambassador (’employee’ in the Sofitel language) is involved in the service objectives that we set. Ambassadors who perform actions that lead to a memorable experience for the guest are publicly rewarded by myself, and their experience is shared in a public forum so that the sense of the client experience is spread as a culture.
I have an open door policy, and I also conduct monthly meetings with random ambassadors for lunch and breakfast, during which we address any challenges they face and try to develop quick solutions for them.
Motivation comes in various forms, apart from financial rewards; recognition and a sense of accomplishment seem to bring out the best of people, which is why these are the actions we have in place in our hotel.
Mr. Boukhaled’s biography:
March 2013: Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa announces the appointment of Samy Boukhaled as Area General Manager for Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa. Samy is tasked with watching over Sofitel Bahrain as General Manager, as well as supervising the operations of Sofitel Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. He will also be in charge of the regional development of the brand in view of the upcoming openings in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Boukhaled has held various progressive positions within Accor, having spent over 24 years with the Group. He assumed his first General Manager position in Morocco in 1998. He has been with Sofitel Luxury Hotels since 2004 as a General Manager and led several missions for the brand in Morocco before being appointed as General Manager of Sofitel Essaouira Medina & Spa in 2005.
In 2009, he was offered the position of Complex General Manager for Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay Resort, after which, in 2012, he also led the successful opening of another Sofitel property in Agadir, Sofitel Agadir Thalassa Sea & Spa. In the same year, as recognition for the exceptional performance he achieved in both Agadir properties, he was distinguished as a laureate of the Gold Bernache (Accor’s highest recognition), for the performance category. Mr. Boukhaled also assumed the position of President of the Food & Beverage Committee of Sofitel EMEA as well as President of the Marketing and Promotion Commission at the Regional Tourism Council in Agadir. He holds a Baccalaureate Degree in Science, as well as a Senior Technician Degree in Sales and Marketing.
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.