For the first time, Sleep & Eat 2020 will be delivered in collaboration with Accor and other major international Hotel Brand Partners, including IHG and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
As the weeks indoors stretch on, the Sleep & Eat team are checking in with our community to discover how others in the hospitality world are dealing with the lockdown.
Today, we’re exploring the ‘new normal’ of Damien Perrot, Global Senior Vice-President Design at Accor.
Thanks for letting us check in with you. It’s important for us to stay connected with our community, even if at a social distance.
Where are you self-isolating right now?
Somewhere in the countryside, not far from Paris.
What’s the view from your new ‘work desk’?
My desk is close to a window and so just above my computer screen, I can see the garden and my children running and playing – very soothing in this context.
What are you most enjoying having the time to do, that you can’t normally fit in?
Early in the lockdown, we have all received as employees of the Group, a video message from Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of Accor. In this optimistic message, he encourages everyone to take advantage of our free time, both personally and professionally. I thus take the time to be every day, a teacher and a game partner for my kids, but also a gardener and a cooker. Usually, I only have time to do those things during the weekend and not every weekend! Of course, I also enjoy having time to mature professionally, by thinking out of the box and hopefully I can get back at Accor with new ideas and things that we have never done before.
Have you developed a new daily routine?
It’s kind of a new life and a new organization, truly… I start the day by having breakfast with my wife and my kids, then I take a shower and start working at 8.30/9.00 until 11.30/12.00 (mainly Skype meetings in the morning). After that, I prepare the meal (or my wife does) and we have lunch all together.
In the afternoon, I don’t have any meetings: just me and my computer… I never had that time before so I’m taking this opportunity to think differently! Then I stop working around 6 pm, which is usually very rare. I do school for my kids (3, 6 and 9) (or my wife does) and I spend time in the garden to revitalize. I finally have dinner around 9 pm and I never go to bed before midnight.
What’s your favourite part of the day in your ‘new normal’?
I think that what I really like is doing a lot of different things every day so I can learn much more about myself, both personally and professionally, and being always close to my family.
What do you think will be the biggest change in how you do your job post-COVID-19?
I don’t really know what the future will be, but I’m pretty sure that the way I do my job will be different post-COVID-19 and I want to be ready for this. We can already anticipate new and stronger security needs from travellers, which will involve rethinking some aspects of design in our hotels. A few decades ago, travellers were mostly looking for standardized hotels that reassured them; but in recent years, guests are much more looking for more than just accommodation, they are looking for unforgettable experiences, entertainment, as well as destandardized and unique concepts that can be shared on social media. This is exactly what Accor addressed through its augmented hospitality strategy and the rise of Lifestyle hotel concepts. We are about to enter a new era and the challenge will now be to combine Lifestyle concepts that go beyond traditional hospitality standards, with stronger sanitary standards to meet this dual need.
It’s a difficult time for the hospitality industry. What do you think will be the hospitality sectors biggest challenge post COVID?
It’s a terrible time for the hospitality industry in fact, but not only. I’m convinced that post-COVID-19, people will be full of energy and desire to live free, meet friends, have fun… They will want to travel and go to our hotels and restaurants, provided that sanitary conditions are developed and complied with. Our main challenge post-COVID-19 will be to be ready to welcome and reassure our guests on hotel hygiene and make them live great moments again within a secure environment. That’s exactly what the Group is currently focusing on, working on a label based on sanitary measures to support the return to business in the hospitality and restaurant industry. As a design team at Accor, we will need to adapt to these new rules, and we are ready for that!
What should those in the hospitality industry be doing now to help them prepare for the coming months?
Our priority is to do everything we can to support the situation, those who need to be protected and those on the front line who are protecting us, with what we have and what we can. At Accor, we have introduced a national platform to provide healthcare professionals and disadvantaged people with accommodation solutions in the Group’s hotels; more recently, we have announced 300 hotels ready to welcome asymptomatic patients. Numerous initiatives have also been implemented at regional levels: for instance, in the UAE, several hotels are being used as quarantine or testing centres for travellers who have been repatriated from abroad. Of course, our employees are also at the front of our minds when facing this unforeseen crisis: in North & Central America, Accor will launch an employee relief fund which is designed to provide charitable grants to employees for necessities. Welcoming, protecting and taking care of others is, and always has been, at the heart of what we do as a hotel group.
How is Accor planning to ‘hit the ground running’ again in the coming months? Do you have any new project ideas in the pipeline?
The Group is in a strong position to address the current situation. We are still here, close to our guests and hotel owners, and we are doing our best to be ready when everything starts again. This period will for sure inspire a lot of future projects, but as mentioned by Sébastien Bazin in his video, this is time to think now, and then it’s going to be time to act.
And finally, what are you most looking forward to doing again when the lockdown is lifted?
Hopefully, I can meet again all the people I work with (colleagues, partners and designers). But safety and health first – it will probably require more patience.
Thanks for checking in with us, Damien.
To hear about how other key figures in the hospitality design community are approaching life and work in the current climate, you can also check in with...