Marc Descrozaille has paved his way into this year’s Power 50 ranking after taking over as president for Middle East & Africa only nine months ago after Andreas Mattmuller retired from his position as chief operating officer for Mövenpick MEA after 16 years of service in the company.
Under Descrozaille, the single brand company currently operates 53 hotels in the region which amounts to 13,216 operational rooms and has 22 hotels in the pipeline. Since taking over the position, Descrozaille has overseen the company’s expansion into Kenya with the opening of Movenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi. The company under Descrozaille’s supervision has also opened its third property in Tunisia, Movenpick Hotel du Lac Tunis. In Egypt, Movenpick will be opening a seaside resort — Movenpick Resort El Ein Bay.
In the UAE, Dubai remains the company’s focus, but Descrozaille reveals that Abu Dhabi has been earmarked as part of the expansion strategy, too. With an aim to operate 15 hotels across the UAE by 2025, Movenpick has four properties already under development: Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai and a Mövenpick Hotel in Dubai Media City, which will both open later this year; Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Al Burj Business Bay is cued to open in 2019 while Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, is slated for completion in 2020.
In Muscat, Oman, Movenpick is a target with three properties signed to date while Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remain key markets due to their growth potential, says Descrozaille.
However, just as Descrozaille was transitioning into his role as the head of the Swiss-based company in MEA, news broke in April 2018 that Movenpick Holdings, along with its partner Kingdom Holdings, owned by HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal had come to an agreement to sell Movenpick Hotels & Resorts to Accorhotels for a sum of US $566 million.
The integration is said to take place during the second half of 2018 but until the acquisition is finalised, Descrozaille tells Hotelier that the company will continue its activities according to plan
He says: “They are still in the regulatory process of getting all the cheques from the buyers but until the nothing has really happened. We are very much just waiting for that date. And then, from that moment on, there can be the integration phase.”
The group has also made considerable efforts to overhaul its IT/digital strategy to keep up with the changing demands and Descrozaille says he’s especially proud of the new CRM in place.
“Most CRMs work on date, frequency, and monetary. Mövenpick has taken a more human and intuitive approach, but with science to support it. The commercial and IT teams have developed a unique algorithm for each guest, which takes into account several factors including their social cloud, title, LinkedIn profiles, etc. It recognises all behaviour that demonstrates loyalty, from direct bookings to social media activity, clout and reviews. Guests are instantly recognised as valuable, even if they are first-time customers,” he explains.
As the new figurehead responsible for 12,500 employees in the region, Desrozaille notes that one his major responsibilities is to attract and nurture the right kind of talent. Among the many initiative to support this effort, the company recently launched The Mövenpick Saudi Development Centre (MSDC) initiative - an exclusive training programme to train and help Saudi nationals climb the hospitality ladder.