An Area Managers vision on hospitality

INTERVIEW | Learn more about HFC Area Manager Joel Ehrhardt’s vision on hospitality management. For HFC he makes sure that the cleaning, linen, and maintenance runs smoothly at citizenM and Yotel in Paris. Joel joined the HFC team one month ago in April 2021, and so far, he describes his position as challenging. “The most interesting challenge is to find the right balance between the expectations, the demands of the partners and those of the suppliers,” Joel says.

ABOUT | He is the proud father of a nine-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl. Together they live in France in a small village a few kilometres from Strasbourg and a hundred metres from the German border. They are deeply attached to the culture of our region and make sure to share it and make it live! They love to be outside, taking care of the garden. When they are not home, they go to the forest, hike, to have a picnic. He also loves to mountain bike in the Vosges or the Foret Noire and searching for some technical trails. He started his hotel career with his studies at the hotel school of Strasbourg in 1997? Followed by a variety of roles in the hospitality industry as a waiter for Michelin starred restaurants, stewarding manager,  mystery shopper and area manager. In his last position, he was in charge of the operational management of 22-holiday resorts for a French group.

What do you find the most challenging as an Area Manager?
Being a part of the team for 4 weeks now, I think that the most difficult, but also the most interesting challenge is to find the right balance between the expectations, the demands of the partners and those of the suppliers. The fact that we can juggle these elements is our main mission as Area Managers. I think this is also the added value of a group like HFC which is growing at a rapid pace. We are only at the very beginning of a new way of looking at housekeeping and facility management for the hotel industry. All I can hope for is, that HFC will continue to do so for many years to come.

What is the favourite part about being a part of HFC?
No day is like another day. This includes the activities, the different partner locations, and the multicultural environment. I now operate in the Parisian hotels, but soon I am going to take care of Central Europe properties. Having colleagues in the Netherlands, in England, in the United States, teams with an immigrant background is stimulating and pushes me to keep an open mind!

In your experience, what are the elements for running a successful hospitality business?
First, I would say it is all about communication with the staff, between the different departments of the hotel, with partners, suppliers, and of course customers. Everything depends on how the message is passed on and above all how it is perceived! A clear message, adapted to the target, is a huge part of success. Second is the concept. What are our customers’ habits? What do they love? Anticipating customer requests, knowing the habits of the regulars, taking the time to talk to people… all these little touches that make the customer remember his stay in the establishment, make, in my opinion, the customer experience unique.

What are your hopes for the hotel industry?
For the time being, I hope that hoteliers and restaurateurs will return to their pre-pandemic levels of activity as soon as possible. But what I’ve noticed in the last few days is, that a lot of people who worked in the industry before the pandemic will not return to their jobs because they’ve simply moved on. That’s where the biggest challenge lies, getting staff to come back when customers are asking for it.

How do you define success?
Success for me is the perfect combination of personal and professional life. To be able to continue to take care of my family and my loved ones while having a job that offers rich and varied missions in a multicultural and highly stimulating environment, that’s what I found today at HFC!

If you imagine your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
In the past, I lacked self-confidence, so I would advise the young person I was to believe in his ideas, not to be afraid to express himself and just be himself!

People would be surprised if they knew…
…I have been interested in gardening and woodworking for a few years. I try to combine the two. My latest achievement is a wooden deck over my pond and currently, I am thinking of creating a Japanese bath.

What inspires you?
It is more life sequences, experiences, encounters, discussions that I remember for a longer or shorter time that make me the person I am today. For example, I still remember very well my grandfather’s advice when I entered the hotel school: be curious and be willing. Even if I did not always apply it in the past, I still think about it sometimes today. My favourite quote is from Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”