We had a chat with one of our collaborators about his job, reasons to be proud and lockdown. This week, let’s meet Michael Fernandez, General Manager of the Hotel Campanile in Rungis. A heartfelt chat about passion, dedication, solidarity, and humanity.
Michael, tell us about your job!
I am the General Manager of a hotel restaurant that has 84 rooms as well as seminar rooms. I manage a team of 14 people. My duties are extremely varied: I manage the reception desk and check in/check out, catering, and the hotel’s commercial and technical operations. I therefore assign a variety of tasks to my staff. I supervise the department heads, oversee the objectives set upstream (budget, costs) and steer the strategy; I am in charge of promoting the hotel through trade fairs and partnerships with hotel management schools; I coordinate the event teams; I recruit the trainees; I ensure that quality standards and employee growth targets are met at Louvre Hotels, both internally with the Genius tool and via the OSB (bachelor's) and MBA (master's) courses. In short, I never know what the next day will bring! I focus on helping my staff grow professionally and personally, and on giving our guests an experience they will never forget.
Today, our customers want to feel valued, they want to be a part of our ‘community’.
What matters most, makes you proud in these times of lockdown?
I don’t mean to sound politically correct, but I am really proud to be part of Louvre Hotels Group whose core values I share: putting people, well-being in the workplace, and customer experience first. It makes me proud to give my employees much more than just a job: here I can offer them true career opportunities. I also take pride in giving our guests fond and lasting memories of their stays with us. The hotel is closed during lockdown. I supervise the onsite security of the hotel and premises four days a week, in rotation with my assistant manager.
We started a WhatsApp chat group among us, not to talk about business but to make sure that everyone is safe and well.
We also send friendly emails to our customers, and sometimes even little poems and inspirational thoughts. We got this idea from the general manager of the hotel Campanile La Villette. I thought it was a nice touch to send happy messages to our customers, just to say that we are wishing them and their loved ones well.
Sharing the best initiatives is also what helps build a strong network.
In the same way, I and a few other hotel managers teamed up to organise a medical supplies collectionfor the caregivers on the front lines. It all began when a self-employed nurse who’s also a close family friend asked me if she could borrow some kitchen coats to use as protection when doing her rounds. I forwarded her plea for help to several other hotels, such as the Campanile hotels in Villennes-sur-Seine, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and Morangis, and the Kyriad in Saint-Cyr-l'École. All were happy to join in. We had some gloves, hygiene kits, and visitor’s kits in stock. All the supplies were rounded up at my friend’s, the General Manager of the Campanile in Villennes, and shipped that very evening to Rungis. I brought everything home and had the pleasure of handing over the supplies to this brave nurse so that she could, in turn, dispense them. That too makes me particularly proud!
We also bake viennoiseries every morning for the staff of the MIN (national interest market) in Rungis. We put them into little bags and slip in a note of encouragement.
The hotel is also open to medical staff so they can be closer to their place of work, and some of the rooms are reserved for the Rungis MIN truckers so they can rest and recharge their batteries.
That's the daily routine of a hotel manager during lockdown. The most important thing is to stay in contact with our staff and customers, and to put all this time on our hands to good use (as we usually spend 7 days a week running the hotel). Making ourselves useful is essential, it is our driving force.
Care to share an anecdote and a post-lockdown image?
The most touching anecdote has to be when the time came for one of our guests to leave after he stayed a whole year with us while on a long-term work assignment. A I walked out of my office, I found him crying at the reception desk. He was clutching a letter in his hand, as well as some tips for the staff. He told me how happy he had been to spend the year with us – we had become family to him. Him leaving us that morning was heartwrenching, like bidding farewell to a loved one. I often talk about it, because it deeply moved me and all the employees who knew him. Such delightful interactions with our guests are what make our jobs worthwhile, in keeping with our brand’s humane and generous values.
Our customers are very often much more than just customers to us, our relationship is what I like to call "ami-commerciale” (a mix of friendship and business).
My post-lockdown image is a dove, because it symbolises freedom, a journey into other lives... I believe this experience will change the way we look at things. We will stop complaining; we will all realise that it is possible to build a collective voice based on sharing and on the true value of life. Hence the dove being released, like a new beginning... time has come for us to do some soul-searching.