Dear Members, dear Friends,
My section, Les Clefs d’Or – France, honored me by presenting my candidacy to the supreme function of our international association.
However, a few days before our congress during which the election of our new Executive Committee will take place, and although the only candidate for the position of International President of UICH, it seemed to me obvious to write to you in order to introduce myself.
Indeed, I will have the heavy responsibility but also the immense honor to represent you over the next two years, and I will do my best to accomplish this mission. Yet a number of you know little about me.
It is therefore in all humility and transparency that I decide to write to you so that you know who you put your trust in.
A LITTLE ABOUT ME
I am a child of the hotel industry. My father and my mother met in Paris, at the Hotel Meurice which remains for this reason a place that I particularly like. He worked at the Room-service and will later become a Barman, she was a young English housekeeper coming from the Berkeley in London to learn the language of Molière. They continued their romance in London, she, at the Savoy and then Brown’s, he, at the Goring, to acquire in turn the subtleties of the language of Shakespeare. They then returned together to Paris to found their home, in which I grew up, surrounded by the love of my parents and my brothers and sister.
Today, I have the good fortune to be accompanied in my life by an exceptional and loving wife, Francelise, whom I thank for her extraordinary support, and to be the father of three boys of whom I am so proud, every day of my life.
I started working in 1979, first as a porter before doing my military service, then as a receptionist before returning to Guest services. I held my first position as Night Concierge in 1984 at the Hotel Le Warwick in Paris, and I have never left this profession of passion.
In 1985, I joined the Lancaster Hotel, which belonged at the time to the Savoy Group, a lovely “boutique hotel” located just off the Champs-Elysées and I stayed there for sixteen years, thirteen as Chef Concierge, and I keep very fond and wonderful memories of that time. In 2001, I had the opportunity to move to the magnificent George V, reopened a year earlier under the banner of Four Seasons, where I had the chance to continue my career. I will become Chef Concierge in January 2002, a position I still hold today.
Whether it’s the Lancaster or the Four Seasons Hotel George V, I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by the wonderful teams I want to pay tribute to today. What would I be without their invaluable support?
I quickly had the passion for computers and the internet and if I do not reveal my flaws as they are many, creativity is part of my qualities. I created my own concierge software in 1998, of which I am very proud and which remains today very powerful; then, subsequently, many Internet sites including the first versions of the sites of the UICH.
LES CLEFS D'OR
I became a member of the Clefs d’Or France in January 1982 (because in France, at the time, the association was called Union Professionelle des Concierges d’Hôtels et du Personnel du Hall) when I was still a Concierge to be … which will take another two years.
I have been a member of the Board of Directors of Clefs d’Or France since 1990, under the presidency of Pierre Porte, who was entering his second term. The year before, we had just hosted the International Congress in Paris and the young man I was, was fascinated by what remains today a unique friendly and professional association to which I am so proud to belong.
I had two mentors during my career that I think of when introducing myself to you: Jacques Pillet, Concierge, then Chef Concierge of the Hotel Meurice, the first “Man with the Golden Keys” that I knew while I was still a child and who still is a close friend, and my dear Lucien Pierrot, Chief Concierge of the Hotel George V, who always gave me his wise advice, and who unfortunately disappeared on Christmas day 1997, well before I knew that one day, I would join his mythical hotel.
I have had the good fortune to make great friends throughout these years, but isn’t our association above all about friendship? For that, I know all that I owe to Les Clefs d’Or …
MY JOURNEY WITH THE EXCO
I had the honor of assisting Andre Damonte in 1999 as assistant secretary. Andre was a wise man who, having exercised the highest responsibility within our association, was kind, caring and humble enough to remain at its service. Then I had the privilege to succeed him as secretary of UICH, position that I will hold until 2004.
President of the Clefs d’Or – France from 2007 to 2010, I therefore participated again to the Executive Committee during this period, under the mandates of Roger Bastoni and Robert Watson.
Finally, in 2013 at our international congress in Queenstown, New Zealand, my section honored me with my nomination to the position of 3rd Vice President of our association to which you did me the favor to elect me. I have had the privilege and honor to serve UICH until today under the mandates of Presidents Emmanuel Vrettos, Colin Toomey and Simon Thomas whom I thank for their trust.
I have contributed as much as I could and with my means, to the works of this Executive Committee which generously gives a lot of its time and energy to the administration of our wonderful association.
The online Book of Members is probably the contribution I am most proud of. I was able to develop it, thanks to the team that is responsible for the development of the professional software which I created, and this has allowed our association to save considerable sums of money.
I had to finish this part of my presentation with a thought for a person who was an immense source of inspiration for me and with whom I could have rich exchanges but especially of whom I received the most valuable advice, Ms Marjorie Silverman. Our association misses her today and I wish to dedicate her this mandate.
This association is your association and I have the ambition to serve it, to serve you. Certainly, the mission of the president of UICH “Les Clefs d’Or” is clearly defined in our statutes, Article VI, section 6, and he also has the duty, while preserving the works and achievements that have been accomplished under the previous presidencies, to give the main guidelines of his mandate.
My project, I intend to lead with the help of the Executive Committee, Zone Directors, members of the Board of Directors, Sages, our various existing commissions and those to create, but above all, with your help, your support, and your agreement, so that it is OUR project.
– Les Clefs d’Or
I am well aware that the life of our association cannot simply turn around a few annual meetings, and that, to take only the example of our international congress, barely 10% of the members of Les Clefs d’Or have the leisure or the opportunity to participate. I do not want to forget the other 90%.
I think we need to modernize, evolve, and federate. This association has an extraordinary aura and is courted for excellent reasons: we have in us untapped treasures and I want to direct the association towards more exchange and sharing of these treasures. All of our sections operate in their own way and have best practices that they could share with others.
– The profession of Hotel Concierge
We have spent a lot of our time and energy over the recent years in our communication and in some ways in the marketing of what we have designated as our “brand”. I often use the image of the box, the gift wrap and the ribbon around it, but for my part, I’m more interested in what’s inside this box than what’s around it. This association was created to serve the profession of Hotel Concierge and it is to the service of this profession that we must put our action. What evolutions, what orientations, what challenges, what difficulties to, in the long term, also better serve the Hotel Industry and Tourism?
To clarify one confusion that seems to be growing within our organization, our statutes say, when describing the qualifications for Membership:
The Concierge may also handle other front office responsibilities.
They do not say:
Other staff may also handle Concierge responsibilities.
– Our statutes
For a long time now, we have been talking about changing our statutes which should allow us more agility and not be restrictive, while preserving the ideal of the Les Clefs d’Or and their integrity. This is an important piece of work that we put on the loom and it is our Comité des Sages, whose mission is to advise and defend the statutes and ideals of the Association that I would like to entrust this mission, together with the Executive Committee and the help and advice of our lawyers.
I believe that:
– This association was created to serve a profession, that of Hotel Concierge, and this profession is and will remain its raison d’être.
– Our profession because it is ofter a career, is undoubtedly the one that best meets the first expectation of the Customer: Recognition. This career must be in return, recognized and valued.
– The hotel industry, whatever the tools that are developed here or there to try to improve customer service, yet evolves but is not to be reinvented as it is first and foremost a matter of humanity.
– Any decision that will have to be taken should reply to one concern only: is it good for our profession and for our association?
– Our history and the prestige of our association, we owe them to people such as Pierre Quentin, Ferdinand Gillet and others who, over time, have worked to create Les Clefs d’Or and bring them to where they are today.
One day, we received these precious crossed golden keys, so coveted, that we proudly display on the lapels of our uniform.
These keys, we received them as a legacy and will come time to return them as they do not belong to us, and each of us has the duty to return them brighter than the day they were given.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message. For some of you, I look forward to seeing them very soon, for others, I hope there will be an opportunity during this mandate to meet and share about our wonderful profession and our unique association. For all, I am here to serve you and, once Cannes is over, we’ll stay in touch.
I cannot finish this message without thanking again my team, my section, but also my hotel, the George V, and its management, the Four Seasons Group and our owners for their unwavering support past and future.
With kindest regards and in friendship,
UICH “Les Clefs d’Or”
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris