Home' Hospitality Business : HB MAY 2016 Contents Hospitality BUSINESS | May 2016 | 21
What the GM of CQ Hotels in Wellington, Olivier Lacoua, can fit
into his day is astounding. As well as focusing on growing the
hotels’ achievements, Olivier’s on the board of the local Employers’
Chamber of Commerce and Le Cordon Bleu NZ, and he’s VP of
Wellington’s Inner City Association. He’s a member of Rotary, the
Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, and a volunteer at The Soup
Kitchen. Plus, there’s the French Foreign Trade Advisor role and
being honoured with the Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite.
Olivier worked for 12 years for Louvre Hotels in Europe, then six
years for ACCOR NZ, managing the IBIS Wellington and MERCURE
Wellington, before joining CQ Hotels. He runs marathons too,
fundraising for charity, and plans to clock up 100 of them.
WHAT ARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF HOSPITALITY?
I discovered at an early age a true passion for working in the
kitchen. I loved being part of a kitchen team creating simple and
complex dishes and then sharing with friends and family. I was
certain this was the industry for me.
WHAT WERE SOME IMPORTANT LESSONS FROM THE
ALBERT BAYET HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT SCHOOL IN
TOURS, AND IS HOSPITALITY TUITION IN NZ ON TRACK
TO SUPPORT OUR GROWING TOURISM INDUSTRY?
I have great memories of my early studies. I studied by day and worked
at night so I could directly apply what I was learning and this gave me a
real advantage later during interviews. The quality of hospitality tuition
was exceptional. Hospitality in France is a true career; people choose
it because they’re passionate about food, gastronomy, customer
service and people. There’s a lot of quality tuition here but a renowned
school like Le Cordon Bleu NZ helps provide a high level of studies for
students. With the rising number of new professions, students have a
more varied career path to choose from, so the industry needs to be
very active in attracting future generations.
COMFORT HOTEL WELLINGTON WAS RUN BY THE SALVATION
ARMY FOR NEARLY 80 YEARS AND WAS CALLED THE
PEOPLE’S PALACE. HAS THIS LEGACY INFLUENCED
YOU WHEN DEVISING CQ HOTELS SERVICES?
Indeed. Our hotel is more than just selling a room or a meal.
Our guests and team really appreciate being associated with all
things that CQ does within its local community. It gives a sense of
meaning to everyone and I’m proud of what has been achieved.
YOU’RE DETERMINED TO ENSURE CQ HOTELS ARE
ACCESSIBLE FOR EVERYONE, BEING THE FIRST TO
INTRODUCE BRAILLE AND SIGN LANGUAGE AND
RECENTLY THE HOTELS WERE AWARDED A GOLD
MEMBER OF BE.ACCESSIBLE. HOW IS THE INDUSTRY
DOING OVERALL REGARDING ACCESSIBILITY?
The industry’s doing only the minimum. People with a disability are
not travelling as much as they wish because of limited access in
hotels. We also have an ageing global population so organisations
need to ensure their facilities are more accessible-friendly. This
doesn’t rely solely on building regulations but also best practices
for customer service to ALL.
YOUR PERSONAL EFFORTS FOR FUNDRAISING THROUGH
RUNNING MARATHONS ARE LEGENDARY, EVEN BEFORE
SIGNING UP FOR THE TOUGHEST RACE ON EARTH
AND YOU’RE ALSO HOPING TO RUN 100 MARATHONS
FOR CHARITY. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS?
These are my long term goals and fundraising for a charity gives
me a real sense of meaning to achieve these goals. I was always a
casual runner and in 2008 started focusing on marathon distance.
While they’re always the same length, each race is a different
physical and mental challenge. My next adventure, which is part of
my 100 marathons list, is the Marathon Des Sables 2017, running
250km over six days across the Sahara Desert - undoubtedly the
greatest test for me.
WHERE DOES YOUR SOCIAL CONSCIENCE AND
COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY AND THE
BUSINESS COMMUNITY COME FROM?
You learn and develop interests with the people around you
and networking is definitely a great advantage, especially
meeting people who have the same interests and desire to
help others. The core business of a company may differ but
corporate responsibilities should be the same: they’re long
term investments which will have great returns.
WHAT’S YOUR SECRET TO FITTING EVERYTHING INTO YOUR
DAY, AS WELL COMMUTING FROM THE KAPITI COAST?
I plan everything during my morning runs, and the Kapiti Coast is a
great place to live. The distance to the Capital is just ideal for me,
not too far or too close, either by car, cycling or even running. n
Olivier Lacoua – a respected industry leader.
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