By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANERIO, BRAZIL – A new consulting firm has launched in Rio to help the hotel industry prepare for the demands of hosting global mega-events, both developing new properties, as well as improving existing operations to meet international service standards. The consulting group is called Mise En Place, and is part of Meritus Partners, also based in Rio/
In at attempt to meet Rio’s skyrocketing accommodation demands, scores of new hotels have been opening in the city in recent years. Mise en Place wants to make sure that key hospitality principles aren’t being forgotten in the rush by offering services across the hospitality spectrum, from business and management strategies to Cadastur accredited staff training.
Mise en Place’s managing director, French expatriate Erwan Garnier, is the former operations manager of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts in South Africa and believes that Rio’s hotels charge high prices, but don’t always deliver on quality of service.
“Hotels in Rio have many ways they can improve. Guest experience and value for money to customers are first and foremost. Hotels should improve their service to better serve client needs and increase potential incremental sales. In fact, good service develops [these] sales,” he told The Rio Times.
The root of the problem was aptly highlighted with last year’s Rio+20 summit. The conference drew 50,000 people to a total of 33,000 available hotel rooms. The shortfall lead to problems that now occur frequently in Rio de Janeiro every Carnival and New Year, staggering price hikes and corresponding drops in the quality of service.
Such problems will likely be exacerbated with the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic events, with both expected to draw more tourists to the city than it can easily accommodate. By 2016, Rio’s Tourism Board hopes to have 50,000 hotel rooms ready and even plans to have six cruise ships temporarily moored in Rio’s port to help make up the shortfall.
The Olympics are expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to Rio and in contrast, London had 110,000 available hotel rooms for its Olympic event last year. Mr. Garnier believes that such high levels of demand lead many hotels into a culture of relative indifference towards their guests.
Further problems also concern the number of qualified personnel in Rio’s hospitality industry. Even prestigious hotels tend to not invest enough time or resources in their staff.
“Human development is a key element in the success of any hotel project. Hotels here need to establish a corporate culture, develop recruitment strategies and set training plans and annual incentives,” Garnier explained.
In recognition of these difficulties, Rio’s Tourism Board has introduced a new five star ‘SB class’ hotel classification system that puts emphasis not only on infrastructure and quality of service. In addition, there is also an evaluation of the hotel’s environmental and energy efficiency characteristics.
The new sustainability considerations are also part of Mise en Place’s focus. “We believe eco-responsibility is part of doing smart and long term business [...]. At Mise en Place, we create sustainability strategies for business modelling that will impact most aspects of their business,” Garnier told The Rio Times.
Having founded Mise en Place, a consulting company geared towards improving Rio’s hospitality sector, Mr Garnier and head of marketing Ana Biavatti and their team are already drawing significant interest from Rio’s booming boutique hotel sector. Mr Garnier’s previous work with the Insolito Boutique Hotel in Buzios already helped it win the Conde Naste ‘Best hotel in South America’ award.
In terms of how the consulting firm looks to engage with clients, Garnier explains; “Today, Mise en Place is made up of a team of six hospitality experts in Marketing, Finance, Communication, Training and Gastronomy. We offer solutions for new hotels and ventures as well as existing properties.”