"I am eagerly waiting for the moment when it becomes official that the world is more or less normal again"

Accor’s Aurelio Giraudo was recently appointed Cluster General Manager for Banyan Tree Doha & La Cigale Hotel managed by Accor, and brings more than 40 years’ experience to Qatar. Starting out with a bachelor's degree in Hotel Administration from his native Italy, Aurelio has enjoyed a remarkable career with numerous leading luxury hospitality companies including Kempinski Group, Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Dusit Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott.

With four decades in the industry, it is no surprise that Aurelio has made his mark in more than one department, showing broad expertise in Sales & Marketing, Food & Beverage, Revenue Management, and Finance. He is now responsible for the repositioning of La Cigale Hotel under the Accor umbrella, and recently talked to Hotelintel.co about his ideas.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned from hospitality, having been in the industry for such a long time?

I would say that I have learned a lot from the hospitality industry and I am still learning. With age and experience, I have become much calmer in my approach, I have become a good listener and I understand my audience’s perspective as it helps me in communicating clearly and effectively. I think more about others and less about myself. Having a team who believe in your strategies and vision is critical in order to achieve the company goals and mission. Striking the right healthy balance between mind, body, and soul boosts my energy and keeps me fit and motivated.

If there were two things you could change about the industry, what would they be?

First, I personally feel that our industry is too age-focused. With age, experience comes, and people can add more value to the company by passing on their knowledge to others and by taking calculated risks. At the same time, the new generations are more tech savvy and are aware of all the new trends. I would like to see more diverse age groups working together, learning from each other. Talking about being tech savvy, here’s a fun fact: “87% of youngsters have backache, and the other 13% have no computer!”

Second, I would hope to see more women in leadership positions, which is in line with Accor’s international network in support of gender equality and diversity, “RiiSE”.

What are you most excited about today?

I am eagerly waiting for the moment when it becomes official that the world is more or less normal again. I will be able to see my staff and guests without a face mask, shake hands with them, and host them for lunch and dinner. I can see the smile on my team’s face, which I miss the most. Life will be normal again! I cannot express in words how much I am looking forward to that day.

How do you sell luxury products in the Middle East since there are so many of them? What contributes to the success of selling a good product?

I am currently managing two luxury Hotels and Residences. La Cigale Hotel is a winner of lots of World Travel Awards and has been recognized as Qatar’s leading hotel by voters at the World Travel Awards in 2020. It is one of the most popular food destinations in the city. Service, personalization, dining options and competitive pricing are keys to success for this hotel.

Banyan Tree Hotel & Residences is a new luxury brand which has entered the Middle East market. In this hotel, the stay experience is more about personalization with touchpoints following Arabic culture and traditions, and going the extra mile to make our guests’ stay memorable. We are offering our guests a world of imagination where everything is possible, and we strive to remain bold in our approach to guests’ experiences. People these days consider space as a luxury, so all our rooms and residences are spacious with our base room category size starting from 60 sqm. Well-trained staff with luxury backgrounds have been hired to make our guests’ journey more memorable.

What is the most important skill you think is needed in the industry at the moment?

I believe the key to success at the moment in our industry is the ability to adapt and to align the strategies in a dynamic and constantly evolving business environment. To maintain a healthy business, strong financial acumen is needed to maintain adequate cash flow. Knowing what is happening in the market and aligning pricing strategies helps to maintain the market share, making it difficult for competitors to take a piece of our pie. Passion, self-belief, effective communication, presentation skills, high levels of cultural awareness, attention to detail, eagerness to learn new things, and stakeholder relationships are other important skills, which are needed to be successful in this industry.

Visit Aurelio Giraudo at Banyan Tree Doha at La Cigale Hotel