Yves Fonck's Story
Since I was a child, I wanted to become a cook. My parents did not want me to go into this industry and they did not allow me to go to the hotel school unless I would first continue my traditional studies and get an economics degree. They wanted me to have a solid foundation.
When I was young, I saw a television series, Hotel, after the book by Arthur Hailey, about a 5-star hotel where staff were very involved and had good relationships with the GM and the guests. This inspired me even more to work into this industry; it is why I started in hotels and stayed.
I do like to invite people to my home to dinner and to make my house comfortable and welcoming, and I think in the hotel industry it’s the same,- if you like to welcome people, you can have an immediate effect.
At Accor, I have had so many opportunities and if you are eager to learn, look around the departments; you can move forward faster than in other industries. You are also in constant contact with very inspiring people: colleagues, line managers and guests with different educational background, mixed nationalities and cultures. They give so much to you as a person – I am who I am today thanks to those experiences and interactions.
I am the president of the Brussels Hotel Association because it is a role that has two very important aspects. First, we are sharing a lot of knowledge with other board members, even if they are competitors. It is very important that as a leading hotel company in Belgium, Accor leaves a mark on the industry. In that capacity, I am a member of various bodies where we develop industry policies. The hotel association allows me to be on many boards where we decide on the future of the industry, where we are formulating tourism policy, destination management, and working with the government on promoting our industry.
At the same time, through my mandate as the president, I had a strong influence in the past two years in looking for financial support for the hotel sector with the different governments. We obtained quite some financial help from the government to help the industry survive as it is an important engine for the local economy; in Belgium, 80% of the business comes from abroad, which supports many industries in Brussels.
Whatever your education or training, the hotel industry offers a lot of opportunities for those who want to succeed; if you have a healthy dose of common sense and are not afraid of working hard, and enjoy working while others are free. You are part of people’s joy in travelling. If you enjoy being part of the game and get pleasure out of their pleasure, it is the perfect sector in which to make a career.
We are working in an ever-growing industry and people will travel again. Business travel is not at pre-Covid levels but leisure travel will exceed previous levels; we are in an industry with a future. It is quite complex because there are so many professions in hospitality and we can never master everything, every expertise, but it is exciting to know something about so many things. Sometimes you can be working in a department or a job that is not close to what you would like, but it can be necessary to do that to give you a big step afterward, a promotion, in your career.
- Yves Fonck
- Vice President Operations BENELUX
- Head Office (Belgium)