The 2016-2017 Global MBA Class

The 2016-2017 Global MBA Class

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ESSEC Hospitality and Food management Forum 2017

By: Victoria Estic, ESSEC student.

Every year, ESSEC Business School hosts an industry conference focused on topical strategic issues affecting the hospitality sector on its campus in Cergy Pontoise near Paris.This brings students from both of its Hospitality Management programs (the MSc in Hospitality Management and ESSEC’s Global MBA major in Hospitality Management) together with alumni and industry partners to discuss issues, challenges, and trends facing the industry today, giving them the opportunity to interact with senior industry executives as well as advance on their job search for after graduation.



This year ESSEC jointly organized this forum with the Mastère Spécialisé Management International Agro-alimentaire (MIA), further expanding participant's horizons away from traditional hospitality and opening their minds towards opportunities in the broader food production, distribution and retailing areas.


The forum kicked off with two industry panels focused on two key interconnected industry issues –developing business models and innovation.  The first panel, entitled ‘Excellence in Business Models’ was moderated by Professor Peter O’Connor and included speakers from a very wide spectrum of hospitality companies including Trivago, Squarebreak, Touch & PLAY, Deutsche Hospitality and SnapShot. The discussion started by highlighting how the business model behind traditional hospitality companies is increasingly coming under threat, whether from innovative players such as AirBnB or online companies such as the OTAs, both of whom are radically changing paradigms as what it means to be successful.   

According to Laurent Michaud (IMHI 2011), CEO of Eazeattoday hotels are struggling to drive additional revenues.  Currently accommodation make up four-fifths of overall revenues, but this figure is relatively fixed and if hotels wish to keep growing, they need to find supplemental revenues from somewhere else.  Some companies are moving ahead – for example Accorhotels with its innovative ‘Local’ initiative, Deutsche Hospitality by moving away from the company’s traditional markets with its new concept Jaz, and Squarebreak by combining private rentals with hotel-like services while also innovatively responding to a growing demand for both privacy and unique experiences. 

The biggest challenge most hospitality companies currently face is this one of managing change.  Which is why perhaps they should consider trying to collaborate more closely with start-ups like Snapshot or Eazeat, whose smaller size and nimbler organization structure allows them to react to developing market opportunities much more quickly.  As David Turnbull (Co-Founder & CCO of Snapshot) pointed out, the hospitality industry should start investing in technology and data to better understand customers and satisfy their developing needs. The PMS can be used to store information, the CRM to offer personalized services and the channel manager for online distribution. Then, the staff should be trained to use the data and be proactive.

The second panel returned to this topic of innovation.  Speakers such as Régis Bertrand, Innovation Manager at Metro and Laurent Repelin, General Manager Food Service and B2B at Savencia, highlighted the role of having the right people in the innovation process.  Thus, creating an environment that fosters innovation is essential. Thinking differently about this business is one of the key issues, which perhaps helps explain why having a shadow Comex composed of Millennial has become a growing trend in companies struggling to keep ahead of the game.


As Craig Cochrane, Senior Vice President Human Resources Movenpick pointed out, hotels do not always have the internal resources to innovate for themselves, but can use startups to better understand the customer and respond faster to their needs through social media, the web and media such as mobile.  In the food industry, innovation also means finding the proper tools to respond to both individual needs and more macro trends to insure that the company can deliver the right product to the right user at the right time. For example, restaurants could make better use of CRM to better understand customer habits. From this communications channels such as social media could be used to better market to the customer, thus helping to increase turnover.

Irrespective of the industry, the key issue is understanding the customer to know what products he is looking for and how much he is willing to pay. In Berlin, Metro is launching an accelerator where solutions are tested for free by customers to make sure that the digital promise matches real life requirements.  And companies should also keep in mind that although some innovations can be considered global issues, others need to be tackled locally to better service regional needs.

After the round tables, the afternoon was dedicated to meetings with partner companies.  Participants included AccorHotels, Booking.com, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Citizen M, Colisée, Compass Group, Deutsche Hospitality, Domitys, Dorchester Collection, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Oetker Collection, Marriot, Hosco, Savencia Fromage & Dairy, Metro, Movenpick, Trivago, The Ascott Limited, Paris Inn Group and EliorGroup, providing participants with the perfect opportunity to talk with senior industry leaders and start finding jobs and internships. 


The event highlights the close connection between industry and the school – an important consideration given the latter’s orientation to provide practical, applied and relevant educational opportunities for its participants.  Thank you to all the industry executives who made this possible for your continued commitment to preparing the next generation of hospitality leaders.









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