Jacques Peter

Jacques Peter is a top manager in the world’s most famous hotel chain Savoy in beautiful Egypt. In this interview we can find out who are guests which coming to Egypt on holiday, what are their desires and expectations. What are the daily tasks and how is to run big hotel and entertainment complex around hotel.

W: Can you describe your daily work as a hotel manager in exotic Egypt?
The day starts early around 7AM where I come to the hotel, get the night operations reports, talk to the night manager, read the financial reports and forecast for the day.
Than going for my first round, see if everybody is working, breakfast, kitchen, pool cleaning, gardeners, security etc…
9AM morning briefing, with hotel executives, to speak about yesterday and today’s operation.
Then follows separate small meetings; see some guests at breakfast and going around the hotel. The main and important role in a big resort is to walk around the property, to be seen and to catch up with the guests and operation. I don’t stay much in the office as the operation is more demanding.
In the evening it is more social time with our guests and presence in Soho Square.
Anyway days passing so fast and you never are bored around here.

W: How did you decide to move to Egypt, in which you have a very responsible job?
Prior to Egypt I worked in the USA, also 10 years in Asia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Thailand.
I came to Egypt in 2000 almost by coincidence with the help of a headhunter for hotels jobs, who found this position for me. At the beginning Savoy was a Meridien hotel and opening in December 2000. I opened the hotel with the opening team, later on in February 2002 Le Meridien became Savoy Hotel. I left Egypt in 2005 to change air and scenery and went to the crazy buzzing Tokyo – Japan, I spent 6 wonderful years and very interesting work.
After the March 2011 disaster with earthquake, Tsunami, nuclear explosion, Japan became weak in economy and I had to leave as business was bad.
I came back again to the Savoy in 2011.
My close relationship with the owners made the moves easy and fast.

W: What qualifications should adorn executive managers of a hotels like the Savoy?
Basic hotel school is needed, and then a lot of experience in all fields. Operation and people.

W: Is it challenging to meet all the desires, needs and requirements of guests?
It can be, today’s traveller is more demanding than 30 years ago, trends have changed to a more personalized service and guest pampering. Guest needs action quick and prompt.
With the popularity of Tripadvisor, guests have also more power, it can be a good and bad marketing tool.

W: From which countries do you have the most tourists and according to you, who are the best consumer and who know how to have best fun?
We have mainly guests from UK, European Nordic countries, Eastern Europe en Russia.
Also a big number from the Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Gulf area.
All countries are of course different mentalities, different ways of life, however, one thing reunite them, a nice beach and pool, sunny and hot weather and good food.

Jacques Peter

W: Do you have a different approaches to guests from different countries or continents in relation to their vacation?
Yes it has to be different, variation between countries; guests have various habits and needs.
Some nationalities prefer the pool rather than the beach and vice versa. Some are early riser and some are late comers. Some prefer quiet and some need some animations and loud music.
It is a constant juggling with guests needs and cultural roots, we need to adapt the food choice on the buffet, animation programs, attention to children etc….
With our experience this isn’t a challenge anymore and we do succeed quite well!

W: What is the best time to visit Sharm El Sheikh and what would you highlight the best attractions for a mandatory visit?
Best time starts mid-September to mid-June, the best temperatures and best weather
In Sharm it is mandatory to visit Soho , Ras Mohamed national park, St Catherine monastery and of course to dive or snorkel in the Red Sea.

W: What most impresses your guests? For what do you get the best compliments?
Our team (employee) is our biggest asset, they are the front-liners and pamper the guests, they recognize them, knows their needs and remember what they like and their names.
We do have a ratio of 45% repeater guests, some over 10x. Some guest coming 3 to 4 times a year!

W: From where came an idea to build entertainment complex by a hotel and what does contains?
The idea came from my owner in 2004, he wanted to add some restaurants and shops in front of Savoy to make the place alive. At that time we were a bit secluded in our area. At that time I was involved in the pre-project and honestly didn’t understand where all this would lead!

W: Can you compare Egypt and Europe, according to the style and manner of access to tourism?
Tourism is a very big and important sector in Egypt; a lot of budgets are allocated for infrastructures, upgrade of facilities etc… Hotels are much bigger than in Europe, we can afford more staff which can make the service sometimes better than in Europe. Egyptian are friendly and well intentioned people.
They can be very close to people and good caring.

Author: Diana Mikloš
Photos: Jacques Peter

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