In revealing that news Mövenpick CEO Olivier Chavy told The Phuket News in an exclusive interview how important that move was to the company.
“It’s a new era for Mövenpick. We are growing big time, and we want to focus as a strategy on five KPIs [key performance indicators], including best in class, geopick conversion, among others,” Mr Chavy said.
Also central to the strategy is succession planning, Mr Chavy said. “We want to attract the right talent and we want to do the right thing with our current talent, so we do a lot with our HR,” he added.
“We will come back to Pattaya or Phuket in three weeks for what we call the Movenpick Business Academy for trainees internships.”
Social media and communications, naturally, ranked high. “We want the world to know who we are and what we are doing,” Mr Chavy said pointedly.
“The fourth one is growth – and this brings us back to what we are doing in in Phuket,” he said.
The fifth area of focus was defined as “guest experience of the product”.
“We want to reinvent Mövenpick as a picture. We have [the resort at] Bang Tao in Phuket and now plus this one [in Mai Khao]. We want to take care of our current portfolio, but we are discussing as well with some potential development,” Mr Chavy said.
Asked about the modern-day conundrum about whether Mövenpick enjoyed brand loyalty with guests, Mr Chavy admitted, “Yes, and no. I’m not sure Millennials and the new clients are very loyal to brands… but I say yes because they are loyal to an experience.
“And we are building all our marketing strategy on CRM [customer relations management] on guest recognition – and are they loyal to the experience: yes, with experience being food and beverage, the way we personalise the guest’s experience and so on
“Are they loyal to a brand? I would love to think yes – but are you loyal to your car brand? Not anymore…” Mr Chavy said.
“This is a very valid point, we have to a adjust ourselves to our guests’ expectations and we have to deliver the guest expectation – not below and not above, otherwise you create needs,” Mr Chavy pointed out.
“When I was at Cornell University a lecturer gave the definition of quality as the custom delivery of guest expectation. If you deliver above expectation you create a new expectation, a new need, a new cost – and then you’re done,” he said.
Citing the legendary example of hotels placing a wrapped chocolates on guests’ pillows, Mr Chavy explained, “This was the idea of a maid in a hotel in New York in 1965. This is now a $2.5 million cost [a day] for a group like Marriott today because this became the expectation of the client.
“What was the guest’s original expectation? Just to have a good night’s sleep in a good hotel, then the complimentary chocolate, though small it is by itself, became the norm,” he noted.
“This is what we are aiming for: consistency versus wowing. This is because if you are consistent – I like to say – for every client, for every minute, for every touchpoint – it is much more powerful than wowing the client at 10 o’clock in the morning and disappointing the client at 11 o’clock that night.
“This is what we call luxury – custom delivery of guest expectations,” he said.
“And we’re Swiss – we like consistency,” he laughed.
Bringing the core strategy to the modern tech-savvy guest has seen Mövenpick overhaul its core executive team to now include an “ExCom Y Committee”, Mr Chavy explained.
“We have nine people who drive the company, but we recently boosted that from nine to 20,” he said. “I specifically created 10 positions for ExCom Y. These positions are for Millennials only, five young men and five women.”
The 10 ExCom Y members joined the ExCom’s two-and-half-week “Grand Tour of Asia” to meet colleagues, hotel owners and key partners in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, with the tour wrapping up this week on Wednesday (Sept 6).
The ExComY members are from around the globe and at the heart of Mövenpick’s drive to create brand awareness and presence online.
“One of them works as a front desk member in Pattaya. I have another guy in Karachi, and another guy in Dubai. There are six from the company and four from outside,” Mr Chavy explained.
“Do you think they would let me not be social-media oriented? These kids really push hard on the digital front and we had to create some key positions lately thanks to this ExComY and to these young leaders of the company,” he said.
Social media was “driving everything”, Mr Chavy revealed, noting that the new domain reigned on “the corporate level and regional level”.
Critical to successful management of digital strategies were the setting of only “guidelines” and empowering company representatives to adjust and respond appropriately to whatever the regional and situational factors required, he explained.
“You can’t frame digital interaction today, because I would not speak to you the way I would speak to him and him and him,” Mr Chavy said, pointing around the room.
“If you frame it, you become ‘corporate digital’ – and it goes nowhere. The staffer in Bangkok knows better than me how to speak to you, based in Bangkok and running a global business. So it’s framed in terms of branding and guidelines – and that’s it,” he said.
The rapid pace of technological innovation was also shaping the changing face of guest interaction at a very personal level, Mr Chavy noted.
“We are using geosocial software,” explained Andrew Langdon, Chief Development Officer and Mövenpick’s Senior VP Asia.
“What this does is that at within a defined area of our hotel in real time we capture anything anyone posts on Facebook and Instagram and some other social media websites that mentions the word ‘Mövenpick’
“So we have a guest who takes an Instagram shot around the pool – saying it is a hot day I would love some ice cream... our social media people who are sitting here see it in real time and then can send a message back... We empower them,” he said.
“We’ve actually had this, and had a staffer turn up and say here is your vanilla ice cream. We are trialling this in three hotels – in a Pattaya hotel, in a Phuket hotel and in one of our hotels in Dubai,” Mr Langdon said.
The benefits of such service are compelling, Mr Chavy added.
One woman recently posted on Instagram a photo saying how much she loved the sushi she was eating.
“She got back to her room and there was a knock on her door – and here’s your sushi,” Mr Chavy recounted.
“She then took a photo of that and said, ‘Wow - that is service!’ What was the cost of that? A couple of dollars? This woman shared it on Instagram, where she has 25,000 followers, and that’s not counting the Likes she got,” he added,
“We are one of the first hotels in Phuket to run this geosocial software and it takes it to the next level. This is changing so fast, and that’s when ExComY members – all under the age of 30 – are telling us what the future is,” Mr Langdon noted.
“And the beauty of Movenpick is that because we are not a large monster like many of our actual competitors are, we can react very very fast – and that is what we are doing: we are trying to get ahead of the pack by innovating,” he added.
The Phuket News thanks Delivering Asia Communications for the opportunity to exclusively interview Mr Chavy and Mr Langdon.