OKKO, a new hotel concept opened in Lyon in 2015? Vateliens are already there! Caroline Frere, a 2002 alumnus, as Assistant Manager and Camille Grenouiller, a 2014 alumnus as “Innkeeper,” a “made by OKKO” function. This young Vatelien tells us about her career and introduces us to this new, fast-growing brand name.
“Innkeeper,” that is a pretty broad job, isn’t it?
This job title is very OKKO specific. The idea behind our concept was to recreate the original job an innkeeper had. We welcome our guests as if they were friends who came to spend the week-end at our house. Administrative work has been reduced by the use of new technologies and high-performing reservations software, which allows us to spend most of our time boosting relationships with our guests.
In addition, OKKO’s hierarchy system allows you to quickly gain more responsibilities, as, except for the manager, his or her assistant and the innkeepers, there are no other hierarchical levels. So we’re much more autonomous and involved in managing the hotel.
So how is OKKO different from other hotel brands?
What makes OKKO very innovative, is the all-inclusive dimension in this concept. The room price allows guests to access the Clubhouse, which includes breakfast as well as free soft drinks 24/7 and the ‘Aperitivo’ in the evening, where we give clients plates of sausages and cold cuts from Lyon, cheese and a selection of hot snacks. And our guests really like feeling that they’re right at home at OKKO!
The first hotel was built a year ago in Nantes Chateau. Grenoble Jardin Hoche and Lyon Pont Lafayette quickly followed, and the chain is planning on opening 50 more in the next ten years. Three hotels are being built in Bayonne, Cannes and Rueil Malmaison and others are in the project stage, right in Paris.
So in my opinion, I’m going to change jobs as the chain expands, going from my current job as the Innkeeper to Assistant Manager, and then why not, in the head office in a different part of France. For newly grads like myself, you have to be pugnacious and patient in order to build your professional career. I’m sure that if I have the right opportunities, and that I do the very best in my job, I can have a great career in hotel management, and maybe even more rapidly than I imagine.
What did you like about hospitality and tourism management?
For me it was the importance of relationships: I’ve always had the sense of hospitality and welcoming others. I like the idea of playing a key role in our guests’ stays at OKKO. And there’s something new and unexpected every day. People say that no day is the same as the one before, and that’s true. And also this field gives you bright prospects for a career evolution if you’re mobile, which I am.
After high school, I started studying law, but I quickly realized that huge courses in amphitheaters were too theoretical for me and that I needed training with more concrete links to my future job. The Vatel theory/practical application teaching concept was exactly what I was looking for!
In Vatel, you quickly understand the professional application of what you studied in the classroom, as you put it into practice the week after. Plus, with internships, you graduate with operational and managerial skills that are just as good as if you had already worked for two whole years.
What are your fondest memories of Vatel?
- My first internship in winter at the Hotel Saint Roch***** in Courchevel, allowed me to realize that this is what I wanted to do. Plus, working at a ski resort in winter is great!
- The evenings out and people I met, because this is how you create your own professional network, and I met my best friends at Vatel.
How did you get your first job?
I really liked the OKKO concept and I answered their job offer as soon as I graduated. Plus, I was taking part in a hotel launch, and in a young and ambitious hotel chain, so I thought this would also give me a great career opportunity.
So I landed an interview with the Lyon hotel manager and then with the group operations manager, and they decided to hire me. I’ve got good memories of these interviews, which are far from the usual ones where recruitment officers try to destabilize you. Both interviews that I had at OKKO were natural and spontaneous, just like the image of the hotel chain itself.