Franck Loison, Area General Manager of AccorHotels Bali and Lombok, and General Manager of Pullman Bali Legian Nirwana
Q: It’s always a pleasure to meet people with such enthusiasm for their work. Tell me, why did you choose the hospitality industry?
A: Actually, I wanted to travel the world. This industry was really an excuse for me to be able to achieve that!
Q: Most of your working life has been spent in Asia – why?
A: For me, it’s always been Asia, the combination of the great products and human resources is so attractive, and being with the Accor Group means I have a large choice of brands and properties around Asia-Pacific to make my life very interesting.
Q: Do you think Bali is a particularly attractive place for hospitality?
A: Generally, yes. Although nearly all of Bali’s hospitality is in the south, there is huge potential elsewhere. However, there is still insufficient infrastructure and hotel supply, so it will take some time to develop and convince the industry and tourists to move.
Q: Bali is well established, but what about the brand in Lombok?
A: We currently have a Novotel in Kuta, in southern Lombok, which is a truly beautiful part of the island. It’s the only international hotel in that area and there is still a lot to be achieved, but it is very promising; we have a couple more brands to develop there soon.
Q: How do you find working in a resort hotel in Bali differs from city hotels in Yogyakarta and Kuala Lumpur?
A: Mostly it’s the type of guests. Yogyakarta was aimed at the domestic market, Malaysia was corporate and located in a government city, while here it’s a resort destination, so we are much more service and people-orientated.
Q: Do you think that successful people in the hospitality industry have to have an innate skill to quickly adapt?
A: In a leisure hotel you have longer working hours, mixing with your guests at any time of the day, from breakfast to dinner. In a business hotel, the guests leave early in the morning and come back late in the evening. They don’t want to see the GM, they just want peace and to eat at the hotel.
When you move to another hotel, you have to carefully consider the brand, destination, whether it is a city or leisure hotel. Some general managers choose to specialise in only city hotels, or only resorts, for example. To do both, you do need to be able to adapt.
Q: So you need to change your approach?
A: Yes, definitely. In a resort, the guests stay longer and are around the hotel so the relationship is very important. For example, in Malaysia we used to have our team briefing at 8AM, but here it’s not until 10AM because we are present during breakfast to meet our guests. For more normal office hours, you have to work in a business hotel.
Q: What do you like best about the Pullman Legian?
A: I think the location is the main selling point. It’s beachfront with easy access to a famous beach and surf, and right on the border of Kuta and Legian. It’s also a very compact property with spacious rooms and one and two-bedroom villas for families.
Q: So what motivates you to do this every day?
A: I am passionate about hospitality, I believe you have to have it in your blood. Some people get tired of sacrificing their personal life all the time, but for me, this is still what I love.
Q: What have been your favourite work experiences?
A: Opening the Sofitel in Cambodia was an incredibly touching and rewarding part of my professional life. Taking people from the ground up and teaching them everything – watching people learn how to serve in a five-star hotel – it was a very powerful experience for me, very satisfying.
Q: Travelling plays a big part in your life, if you had to name one ultra-special place, where would it be and why?
A: North Korea. I went two years ago for a week. We had a very structured tour seeing lots of different places; it was one of my most memorable trips. I really enjoy going off the beaten track.
Q: What’s left on your bucket list?
A: in the near future, Iran, Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Then perhaps Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Q: What is your advice to those looking to go into the hospitality industry?
A: Find something else! If you really want to do it, you have to have a passion for it, be prepared to sacrifice and have the dedication to work very long hours. It’s not all about living in a nice hotel and having a glamorous life. It’s an exciting job, but it’s very demanding.