The Business of Meetings – Episode 131: Walking the Innovative Sustainability Talk with Pierre-Henri Perrin
We have the great pleasure of speaking with Pierre-Henri Perrin, the General Manager of the new Marriott at the Geneva airport, today!
Pierre-Henri has a very inspiring story to share! He joins us today to talk about leadership, opening a new hotel, and what it means for a property to align with sustainability.
We hope you enjoy listening to today’s captivating conversation with Pierre-Henri Perrin!
Destined for a job in finance, through a course in French Hautes Écoles, Pierre-Henri Perrin, General Manager of the Geneva Marriott Hotel discovered the hotel business thanks to a seasonal job in a brasserie where he served his first fondues. A passion was immediately born for this sector which pushed him to change course and integrate a master’s degree in hotel management. During his first professional experience, discovered all the trades related to the catering and hotel industry. Arriving at Marriott International, Pierre-Henri Perrin adheres to the group’s “People First” philosophy. “By joining the Marriott group, I found a company in which I recognized myself 1000%. I am in tune with its brand promise; its values, which are found in all levels of positions in the company. These are so strong that there is no compromise. We give the best of us and that is what is important.”
For Pierre-Henri Perrin, following the slogan “People First” means putting people at the heart of the company’s strategy by creating great hotel experiences. This state of mind has prompted him to develop a collaborative workspace, a hub, for his teams at the Geneva Marriott Hotel: “Here, there are no partitioned spaces or floors reserved for management”, he explains, “We all work together in a spirit of conviviality and sharing”. Close to his partners, he is always keen to create opportunities both internally and externally so that each member of the team can develop in the best possible conditions: “We want to create an environment where everyone can give best of oneself and consequently the best of the guests who do us the honor of coming to our house.”
Passionate and involved, Pierre-Henri Perrin is convinced that in the hotel business, even more than elsewhere, excellence is in the detail and therefore the service offered to each guest must be irreproachable. He will deploy this philosophy in all the positions he will occupy: Renaissance hotels, in Paris or Barcelona, through prestigious and trendy establishments.
This rich international experience enabled him to understand the importance of the vision of Glocal, both global and local, a method that he strives to transcribe at the Geneva Marriott Hotel and that can be found, for example, in the hotel’s catering offer, which highlights sustainable and local products, as well as in the very construction of the hotel.
The next challenge for Pierre-Henri Perrin is to make the Geneva Marriott Hotel an essential place in Geneva life, a cosmopolitan place open to the world, like the capital of French-speaking Switzerland.
While studying finance at university, Pierre-Henri spent a summer holiday working as a waiter. After that, he decided to join the hospitality world. He started as a receptionist in Paris and worked his way up to hotel management with several different companies in Paris, London, and Barcelona.
Seventeen years ago, he decided to work for a big chain to develop his career. He was offered a position at a small, luxury property in Paris that Marriott was considering buying. He took a chance and accepted the offer, hoping Marriott would buy the property, and three months later, they did. Pierre-Henri feels that was one of the best career moves he ever made!
He has never regretted his decision. Marriott is a wonderful company to work for because they put people first and encourage their employees to grow.
Pierre-Henri has grown with Marriott, mainly by converting hotels from independent to chain hotels.
Change has been a big part of Pierre-Henri’s journey. Change always happens, and when it does, you have only two choices: You can either accept it or adapt.
Pierre-Henri believes that his passion for the work he does keeps him young!
Leadership comes easily to Pierre-Henri because he has no problem engaging with people. He always listens to his people and pushes them to do better.
Opening a hotel
When opening a new hotel, Pierre-Henri goes into it with all his energy. A hotel is a slow-moving environment, so he knows he is sure to succeed because he will have the chance to practice.
Building a team
Finding people who share your passion is the key to building the necessary energy to lead a project.
To manage people successfully you need to allow them to express themselves.
Leading a project
In the opening process of leading a project, you need to fully understand what the project is about and where the idea came from. That has to be taken into account when assimilating the project.
Instilling and maintaining a culture
Pierre-Henri meets all his staff members in order to get to know them better. He needs to understand whether his hotel is the right choice for them and whether they are the right choice for the hotel. After that, he walks his talk each day by spending an hour visiting every department, asking his people how they are, chatting, smiling, and engaging. He also has daily meetings to keep everyone aligned.
At Marriott, they focus on onboarding and inducting all their people. When they launched one of their hotels in France, they had three full days of onboarding to explain their culture. Pierre-Henri continuously monitors things to maintain the culture.
How to keep your people
To create the culture of a company and retain your people, you need to be consistent and true.
Creating a unique experience
You need to be honest, consistent, and always online to create and maintain a unique experience for your customers.
Mariott properties are all about eco-sustainability. Since 2008, they have been creating avant-garde and visionary projects by using geothermal cooling systems, designing their buildings to be as sustainable as possible, and incorporating new technology into their projects as it evolves. They also work mostly with locally-sourced seasonal produce.
At Marriott, the barmaids’ shirts are made from recycled plastic bottles and their wine glasses are made from recycled wine bottles. They are moving away from using plastic by incorporating wooden key cards. For their bar-checks, they use envelopes made from recycled paper that can be planted afterward to produce flowers. Their customers get welcomed with a water bottle that can be refilled from dispensers on every floor.
They feel it is important to be accepted as part of their community, so they invited some of their neighbors in Geneva to spend an evening together so they could welcome them, get to know them, and engage with them.
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