GM Debate Q&A: Farnek's Sandrine Le Biavant

Facilities management company explains support for Hotelier event

Sandrine Le Biavant, director consultancy at Farnek
Sandrine Le Biavant, director consultancy at Farnek

Next week’s Hotelier Middle East Great GM will see over 200 hotel general managers gather in Dubai for the essential networking and education forum, and Farnek will be among the sponsors.

Taking place at Jumeirah Beach Hotel on September 2, the event will see high profile speakers taking to the stage to discuss a wide range of pressing industry issues.

Sandrine Le Biavant, director consultancy at Farnek explained why the company was supporting the event and detailed some of the challenges facing general managers.

Why is it important you support the Hotelier GM Debate?

We believe in benchmarking, sharing best practice and trends and the GM Debate is a great platform to review the marketing conditions, priorities and challenges of the industry.

What do you think are the main challenges facing UAE hotel GMs in 2014?

I would say mid-management employee retention and engagement as rents are increasing significantly when salaries remain the same and promotion is not available for everyone.

Also the new indoor lighting regulation will definitely be an important project. Imports or incandescent lights have been banned from the UAE since July 1 2014 and by January 1 2015 suppliers will not be allowed to sell this type of light. Hotels that have not yet switched their lighting to LED lights (or CFL) will need to have a plan to ensure the consistency of their lighting output and a smooth investment plan for replacement. Owners and operators will have to put action plans into effect, which will ultimately lead to great savings (up to 80%) with a short pay-back period so this is an interesting topic.

What most excites you about the UAE hotel industry in 2014?

The hotel industry has always been vibrant and we can see the growth of some local chains which provide a great level of service and innovation.

From my field of activity, I can see that sustainability has reached a high level of momentum and hoteliers are moving from the interest (awareness, learning) to the implementation phase (certification audits, investments in low-cost measures) or even the optimization phase (energy audits, OPEX investments) which is encouraging AND exciting. We can see more and more VPs, general managers, chief engineers, HSE managers, housekeepers, purchasing managers even sales and marketing directors attuned to the concept of sustainability, resource conservation and also community engagement.

Every day I am astonished by the great social responsibility initiatives being announced and that the media is now sharing this information and stimulating debate. For example, TIME Hotels launched the first carbon offset hotel stay in May with our support, JA Resorts top management shaved their heads to raise money for a Sierra Leone charity, Jean-Francois Laurent, the GM of the Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, cycled to raise money for charity, a group of chefs got together to support a breast cancer charity, Burj Al Arab’s Turtle rehabilitation program now reaches out to 4000 people… and there is more to come I’m sure!

What is your company doing to capitalize on the Dubai Expo win?

We have been focusing on the social and environmental efficiency of existing buildings. However with Expo 2020, we are also preparing to work more on the sustainable design of new hotel buildings through our FM & LEED consultancies. We also foresee that hotels (3-4 star) will consider outsourcing their housekeeping/cleaning services and we have already developed a hospitality expertise stretching back more than three years. As the Expo 2020 will be carbon neutral, the concept will generate interest throughout the business community which will want to embrace the Expo’s sustainability theme. We have been leading from the front with myclimate for the past three years and our Hotel Optimizer utility benchmarking software will be upgraded to fully integrate the myclimate calculation for carbon emissions.

What other news is there from your company?

We have noticed that Waste Management is a challenge for the hospitality industry as well as the community and we have opened a Waste Management Consultancy division to improve industry standards and to help businesses become more efficient and innovative in their approach. Our expertise in this field is important as we are auditors for Green Globe Certification.

Please send the name, job title of the person answering the questions, along with a high resolution image of them.

Read our full preview of the Hotelier Middle East Great GM Debate 2014 HERE.

Attendance is by invitation only and free to hotel general managers. Please register your interest with Amanda.Elisha@itp.com.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Charlotte.Ringrose@itp.com or Nick.Clowes@itp.com.

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