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The hospitality sector: a springboard to start your own company

The hospitality sector: a springboard to start your own company

January 2014

The hospitality sector, provided you have well understood the rules, gives the opportunity to start highly personal and independent companies that deeply reflect the identity and values of their owners.

Alain Sebban, CEO and Founder of Vatel Group, will speak about this subject in the latest edition of “Vatel’s Angle”:  “In the 21st century’s global economy, the hospitality industry is the perfect place to found a ‘human-sized’ company! This is why I always tell Vatel students who have an entrepreneurial spirit: ‘If you have high ambitions, don’t dream your life, live your dreams."

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Someone working in the hospitality industry and an entrepreneur both share the same passion for an activity which totally fulfills their expectations. Therefore, tourism is not merely a thriving economic sector: it is also a source of inspiration and I could even say, ceaseless invention, for innovative spirits.

What was the craziest dream you had when you were twelve? This question often is enough to guide a young adult towards his or her own professional path, to enlarge horizons they didn’t even think about. Of course, when you’re twelve, you generally don’t think about founding your own company. But, underneath every dream of being an explorer, an athlete or artist, taking part in a humanitarian or ecological project, one by one, the buds of management are already starting to bloom. When young adults are old enough to be decision-makers, creating their own company is one of the greatest human adventures that ambitious people can enjoy today. I can testify to this, as it was what I did.

In France, figures show that entrepreneurial values, when they overtake others, usually show themselves when people already have professional experience.  It’s said that one out of three French persons in the job market wants to create his or her own company, but a mere 2 to 4 percent of students make this choice right after leaving school. You need time. Even students who have concrete projects often look for a first job as an employee to become more mature, without forgetting of course, the necessity of saving money and building up a network, two useful and even indispensable things when rolling out a project. This rate of entrepreneurial students is lower than in other developed countries, especially Anglo-Saxon ones. This is why the French government is now proposing an “student entrepreneur” status and launching thirty student clusters for innovation, acquiring companies and entrepreneurship, as well as proposing a special entrepreneurial visa, which is an accelerated procedure for foreign students who are founding a company in France. These measures follow those taken by previous governments, even since the 2003 “Dutreil Law” with its iconic “One euro company.” These measures were necessary ones, accompanied of course, by wanting to undertake something, which is something you learn how to do.

 

Tourism professionals and those who found a company have a lot in common

Once they recognize this urge, the recurring question of booming sectors and “good ideas” to be launched, is quite evident. For Vatel students, attending an International Hotel Management Business School, which, because of its very nature promotes entrepreneurial values, the response will, more often than not, be found in the hospitality, catering or tourism management sectors, though this is not always the case. In reality, these students have been prepared during their entire curriculum to promote corporate spirit, whether this concerns ‘intrapreneuriat’ (innovations or founding new companies within a large company and especially in an international group), or a creation from scratch. They all take root in the sources of the hospitality industry, where the most important aspect is the quality of customer relationships and services. Someone working in the hospitality industry and an entrepreneur both share the same passion for an activity which totally fulfills their expectations.

Therefore, tourism is not merely a thriving economic sector, even though this is true.  It is also a source of inspiration and I could even say, ceaseless invention, for innovative spirits. New hotel and restaurant concepts are born every day; they all convey the vision their founder has, which mixes unflagging professional conduct with creative intuition.

Then these “concepts” have to be managed. The art of management, which is the art of listening and anticipating, communicating and acting, analyzing and deciding, is particularly suited to the hospital industry. Customers are physically present. Each day replaces the previous day: companies must reinvent themselves on a daily basis. The main difficulty is to reconcile very short-term imperatives, those requiring immediate action to respond to customer expectations, with building a sustainable corporate project. All constraints that “small companies” have are present, plus those concerning the hospitality sector. And we of course can’t forget the necessity of including sustainable development in all of its forms: economic, social and environmental.

 

Don’t dream your life, live your dreams

The hospitality sector, if you have well understood the rules, gives the opportunity to found highly personal and independent companies that deeply reflect the identity and values of their owners. This is an activity that can never be relocated abroad and that forbids narrow parochialism. Young Vatel alumni of every nationality take part in creating resorts on tropical islands, gourmet restaurants in North America, or a contributing to the spectacular development of tourism in China. I’m sure of this: in the 21st century global economy, the hospitality industry is the perfect place to found a “human-sized” company! This is why I always tell Vatel students who have an entrepreneurial spirit: “If you have high ambitions, don’t dream your life, live your dreams.”

By Alain Sebban