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The French hotel group is turning a new page in its rich history by introducing a new organisation based around two distinct divisions.


The French hotel group is turning a new page in its rich history by introducing a new organisation based around two distinct divisions.

Category: Worldwide - Careers - Recruitment / Job / Training - Interviews
Interview made by Guillaume Chollier on 2024-04-03

Salomé Révillion, Global VP Talent acquisition & Employer Branding, Accor

Salomé Révillion holds the position of Global VP Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding within the Accor group.
Photo credit © Accor

2024 marks a new chapter in Accor's rich history. In this special year for the French, marked by the holding of the Olympic Games in Paris, an event in which the hotel group founded in 1967 is an official partner, it is adopting a new organisation.

Two divisions have been created. One brings together the premium, mid-range and economy brands of the Canada Goose Group. The other, the luxury and lifestyle brands. This new organisation will enable Accor to assert the ambitions of each of the group's brands, create a stronger corporate culture and build a recruitment and appeal strategy dedicated to this new identity.

The Group has taken advantage of this restructuring to rethink its recruitment processes by exploring new, less traditional formats and opening up to profiles that are less hotel oriented. The support provided to its teams, their integration process and inclusion have also been reviewed.

Salomé Révillion, who joined Accor seven years ago and holds the position of Global VP Talent acquisition & Employer branding for the Sofitel, Sofitel Legend, MGallery and Emblems brands, agreed to talk to Journal des Palaces about the group's new organisation.

Journal des Palaces: Accor recently adopted a new organisation. Can you tell us more about it?
Salomé Révillion: The year 2023 marked a new turning point in the history of the Accor group, which has adopted a completely new organisation with the introduction of two divisions: the first bringing together the premium, mid-range, and economy brands, and the second the luxury and lifestyle brands. The aim of this new organisation is to streamline the management of our activities and develop a close relationship with our hotels, while implementing more in-depth strategies that are even closer to the ambitions of each brand.

Dedicated teams have therefore been created to support this new organisation, and today I have the opportunity to represent La Maison, part of the Luxury & Lifestyle division, which brings together the Sofitel Legend, Sofitel, MGallery and Emblems brands.

You have been appointed Global VP Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding for Sofitel, MGallery and Emblems. What does your new role entail in concrete terms?
As VP Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding, my role involves establishing our recruitment and attractiveness strategy, as well as defining the contours of the employer brand dedicated to our new entity. Our ambition is to build a strong, caring corporate culture for our current and future talent. That's why we've just introduced new Talent and Culture processes, for the recruitment of our hotel managers and management teams, and to facilitate onboarding with the introduction of a tool that provides new leaders with all the information they need about the Group and the brand, as well as other useful information (organisation charts, deadlines, etc.), the idea being to support and promote our new vision of luxury hospitality.

What were the first challenges you faced?
As our Managing Director Maud Bailly often says, "everything starts with culture". Our first challenge is to build a strong signature culture and a unique identity for all our brands. We want to consolidate the sense of belonging, passion, and pride of our teams, by promoting our brands and our values, to become a true benchmark in the luxury hotel industry.

How do you intend to do this?
This involves personalised support for our teams in the hotels, and dedicated teams at head office who implement new processes and develop specific tools - they are the guardians of our operational excellence. A team is on hand for each new hotel opening, providing the new management team with a dashboard listing all the tasks to be carried out by department, with precise timetables. Our regional teams also support hotels in all their strategic areas: marketing, revenue management, finance, human resources, and the implementation of their sales strategy. It is essential for us that our values are embodied and lived every day: excellence, passion, and pride in working for our brands, our employees and our customers.

And to ensure a reinvented and standardised experience throughout the world, we have also worked on a Cousu Main integration path for each new Heartists. Cousu main is the definition of Sofitel's service culture, which in French means 'made to measure', and reflects the desire of every Sofitel Ambassador to please their customers by offering them a personalised, detail-oriented service delivered from the heart.

In today's environment, we know that first impressions are the ones that stick. We have only one opportunity to differentiate ourselves and create that emotional attachment with our brand culture, to attract and retain our talent. Each new hotel manager therefore receives a tailor-made welcome, with a call from our General Manager to personally welcome them, and a personalised email to share their induction programme for the first few weeks. The aim is to familiarise them with the brand, the corporate culture and to clearly identify their contacts within their region.

What do you call a Heartist?
Within the Accor group, Talents are called Heartists and are at the heart of everything we do. Being a Heartist means:

- Be all you are;
- Explore limitless possibilities;
- Grow, learn, enjoy;
- Work with purpose: Give meaning to your actions.

How do you analyse the current situation in the job market?
Covid has greatly accelerated the outflow of talent from our sector. We now need to attract new profiles, rethink the integration process, and provide the best possible support for the development of our teams.

Talent today is looking for more meaning in their work and, more than ever, a balance between personal and professional life. We are therefore concentrating our efforts on developing our brand culture and improving the quality of life at work for our entire sector to recreate vocations, constantly seeking to reinvent ourselves to attract talent.

Another subject that has always been very close to our hearts, and which is more relevant than ever to the current issues facing our sector: diversity and equal opportunities. With this in mind, we recently launched two dedicated programmes:

- A mentoring programme and diversity network called Riise, to encourage our female managers and department directors to dare to apply for general management roles. The Riise network was created in 2018 and promotes diversity in the broadest sense. It has 28,000 members within Accor and 2,900 within our brands. It operates around two pillars. The first is to reveal and inspire through mentoring and empowerment. The second is to alert and protect by stopping discrimination and violence, with, for example, the introduction of two "Domestic violence awareness" e-learnings in the France - Accor area, in partnership with the France Victimes association.

- The Reveal talent programme, dedicated to the social ladder, which aims to help employees with no qualifications or higher education to develop their careers.

How are you dealing with the shortage of profiles?
We have seen the situation as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We are opening up to new, non-hotel profiles, by promoting soft skills: an innate sense of service and a commitment to excellence. For our brands, we are above all looking for profiles with a singularity, a personality - talents who will know how to be true ambassadors: at MGallery a talent who likes to tell a story or who is keen to promote the local heritage and community, and at Sofitel creative and passionate candidates who dare to surprise and who will know how to embody the joy and art of living à la Française.

We have also rethought our recruitment processes by exploring new, less traditional formats. For example, we have launched CV-free recruitment days, where candidates take part in role-playing exercises and benefit from privileged discussions with the teams, at the end of which they are likely to leave directly with a promise of employment.

And to help managers understand these new challenges, we have developed e-learning courses on new recruitment trends. Our teams really enjoy talking to candidates, sharing their passion and the culture of the properties they represent, always in a very friendly way. Many of the talented people who have joined us recognise that this close relationship with our teams, as well as their transparency and humility during interviews, has made all the difference.

What are you doing to raise the profile of the hotel and service professions?
The Accor group has a very strong commitment in this area. We promote a culture of inclusion where everyone can find their place through the motto "be yourself". And who better to promote the hotel and service professions than our own employees, who work every day with passion and enthusiasm? We are developing testimonial campaigns so that our employees can explain their daily lives and how they have developed, and so illustrate the variety of career paths available in the sector, with a wide range of opportunities and gateways.

Our teams' commitment doesn't stop there, as they are happy to take part in school forums and recruitment fairs on a regular basis to meet students and share the passion that drives us with different audiences. Last autumn, our chairman met students from a leading Swiss hotel school to share his vision and the Group's strategy, and to answer their many questions. Our global 'school relations' team also regularly welcomes students from business and hotel schools to our premises to introduce them to the Group, our different business lines and the opportunities available to them.

Our teams aim to work more closely with applicants, offering advice and sharing their day-to-day lives in a transparent way. The recruiter is the first face that the candidate meets, and it is with him or her that the first relationship is forged. They embody our values. In fact, the messages conveyed by our CEO, Maud Bailly, and our Chairman, Sébastien Bazin, also help to embody our sector in a humane way, highlighting caring management through inspiring messages. Their passion and dynamism are infectious.

You will be in charge of the recruitment and onboarding processes for a number of quite different hotel brands worldwide. What challenges does this represent?
We attach a great deal of importance to monitoring talent, so that their experience is optimal and reflects that of our customers. We are innovative in our recruitment processes, just as we are in the way we manage our teams on a day-to-day basis: sharing common values, sincere, humble, and transparent exchanges during recruitment interviews. That's where we make the difference.

At a global level, it was key to harmonise recruitment processes so that the same experience could be enjoyed whether in Rio, Dubai, or Paris. Nevertheless, recruitment issues vary from one region to another. When I took up my post, I had the chance to talk to the VPOs (vice-presidents of operations) and our T&C relays (the teams dedicated to culture and human resources) in each of our regions to understand their needs. A global approach wouldn't work because some destinations like Brazil, for example, don't have hotel schools. So, we have to anticipate each hotel opening with the regional teams, adapting our strategy for each region. Each time a new hotel opens, we look for a manager who understands the social and cultural issues involved, and who is able to teach people.

The experience of our Heartists is also a major issue: the integration of our new employees marks the beginning of our professional relationship, and the first impression is key. All new employees benefit from an induction programme during their first 90 days, as well as a mentoring system, so that they can then proudly represent the Sofitel and MGallery brands to our customers.

In 2023, our Learning & Development team developed a new induction programme, with signature programmes for each brand, which was launched in all our hotels worldwide. This programme is based around three training courses: I LOVE my brand, I LIVE my brand, and I LEAD my brand. These are aimed at all hotel staff and managers, to give them all the tools they need to deliver a memorable customer and Heartist experience. They are also trained by some of our external partners, such as Tyspy, which provides them with videos on operational themes, and Bureau d'Images, which trains them in attitude, grooming and the codes to adopt in the luxury sector. Our ambition is to harmonise the experience of all our new employees, so that they all feel the same attachment to 'La Maison' and are ambassadors for our brands, conveying the values that unite us and are dear to us.

Are new avenues being explored?
Absolutely, we are exploring new avenues:

- Immersive onboarding, to provide a differentiating experience and adapt to the needs of our teams. Through a virtual tour, new employees will be able to understand the Accor group, its history, and its values - and discover in more detail the essence of the brands for which they will be working. This project was launched at the beginning of March.

- The possibility of offering tailor-made career paths to students who join us on several placements, with a view to offering them attractive assignments followed by career opportunities at the end of their placement. This project is currently under discussion with several schools.

In a previous interview with our magazine, you stressed the importance of the word "thank you". Do you still consider this word to be essential daily?
Yes, and probably even more so today. Our talents, like our customers, are looking for meaning and sincerity. Knowing how to say thank you, recognising commitment, communicating regularly and transparently, giving responsibility to teams, and sharing a common vision and objective encourages everyone to excel on a daily basis and strive for excellence. This is what fosters a sense of pride and belonging.

A committed team cannot be decreed: the relationship and the culture are created over time. Above all, we work for a leader who inspires us. Caring management makes you feel recognised and gives you the desire to excel and excel. That's why we've launched 'Heartists of the Month', an initiative that celebrates the collective success of our talents.

We are in a service business where people are at the heart of everything we do. Our customers come back for the teams, the welcome and the little touches they receive. I can only advocate saying thank you to our teams. A thank you from colleagues, management or a customer is a pleasure and reminds us why we chose the luxury hotel sector rather than any other.

What advice would you give to a young person thinking of launching their career in the luxury hotel sector?
Luxury hotels offer rapid career prospects. To flourish in this sector, you need to be passionate, enjoy giving pleasure, enjoy interacting with others, enjoy surprising customers daily and enjoy making each day unique. Just like in a team sport, each talented person occupies a key position, whether in direct contact with customers or behind the scenes.

My advice would be: be curious, don't be afraid to challenge yourself, don't stop at your job description, dare to take initiative and be yourself.

If you don't have any constraints, go abroad. Exposure to other environments and cultures is truly enriching and will enable you to perfect your command of English.

Be generous: this is a sector where you get a lot from your peers, your colleagues, your manager, and your customers. Seeing a customer's eyes shine because we've touched them with a little attention is very gratifying. I'm thinking, for example, of Nathalie, who recently took the initiative of sewing up the button on a jacket before returning the forgotten coat to its owner. If you have an eye for detail and enjoy giving pleasure through small, personalised touches, in an environment where excellence is a never-ending quest, then you will undoubtedly thrive in the luxury hotel industry.

What advice would you give a candidate wishing to join you?
I'm a great believer in the transferability of skills. A candidate who is keen to surprise, pamper and personalise his or her interactions will undoubtedly flourish alongside us. Be daring, be yourself - the luxury hotel industry is not just for the elite. If you are passionate about what you do, if you like to surprise and please, joining "La Maison" and participating in the development of the Sofitel, Sofitel Legend, MGallery Hotel Collection and Emblems brands will enable you to live your passion to the full. You will be artisans of happiness. Being a Heartist means working from the heart.

Perfect your English, dare to practise: mastery of English remains a must if you want to communicate with our customers with ease.

If your dream is to join us, apply online or contact us. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to join a team and a community of enthusiasts to share the values you hold dear, then don't hesitate and find out about all our opportunities on the Accor careers website

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About the author

A journalist for 20 years, Guillaume is a fan of exclusive places where comfort, quality of service and gastronomy are combined. All this, tinged with a simplicity and a smile that are the prerogative of the ultimate luxury.

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