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The luxury Interview of...

Bérangère HABLA
Directrice Room Mate Alain - Champs Elysées

Luxury is making the impossible possible

Very attached to service and the Customer experience, Bérangère Habla has been Director of Room Mate Alain - Champs-Elysées since February 2020, a high-end and refined establishment located on rue d'Argentine in Paris. At only 32 years old, this is already his third management position after two first experiences within the Park & Suites and Accor groups. Passionate about the hotel industry and not having followed a course in a hotel school, Bérangère is truly self-taught.
The Spanish Room Mate Hotels group currently has 28 hotels in 7 countries and Be Mate Apartment owns apartment buildings in Madrid, Milan, Mexico City, Barcelona and Málaga. Room Mate Alain is located in the heart of Paris. The hotel, with 50 rooms, was designed by interior designer Lorenzo Castillo, who perfectly combined classic and modern aspects, creating an authentic Parisian atmosphere that gives the hotel a unique personality that will carry you away. In addition, this summer we launched our exclusive brunch service.
Design plays a predominant role at Room Mate Hotels. Renowned designers such as Patricia Urquiola, Lázaro Rosa Violán, Tomás Alía, Lorenzo Castillo, Pascua Ortega and Teresa Sapey, among others, have all showcased their design prowess at the chain's hotels.
In 2021, Room Mate Alain and Bureau d'Image have forged a partnership to train housekeeping teams: a tailor-made course to understand the gestures and postures to take care of housekeepers. Codes and best practices for the use of products, the weight of the trolleys, the posture for making the beds and many other recommendations to reduce the penalty of the activity and also to strengthen the well-being and motivation of the teams. At the same time, Room Mate Alain employees benefit from a grooming workshop: make-up, hairstyle and manicure. At the end of the training, all received the Image Trousseau as a gift, the first top-of-the-range grooming kit, contains all the necessary daily equipment.


Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?
Bérangère HABLA:
Luxury is indefinable because it has many facets. Luxury, for me, is in particular the personalization of service, its elegance ... It is also making the impossible possible.

BI: Does French luxury exist and What would be its characteristics?
BH:
Recognized throughout the world, French luxury continues for its high standards, its sense of detail and its refinement. We can be proud to represent the French hotel industry. When we travel abroad, everyone we talk to praised the sense of French hospitality.

BI: Which personality do you think best embodies luxury today?
BH:
Gabrielle Chanel (Coco Chanel), the ultimate embodiment of French Haute Couture and Luxury.

BI: What have been the major developments in the luxury hotel industry in the past decades? What will the luxury hotel industry of the future look like?
BH:
Luxury continues to evolve. In France, we remain rather traditional, preserving our ancestral customs. I am lucky to be able to represent a Spanish group in Paris. However, Room Mate Hotels & Spa has a very innovative vision of the hotel industry. He is nonconformist with a firm desire to impose challenges on his establishments to challenge us. We want to prove to the world that a model based on people and happiness is the most sustainable. Humbly, I am committed to making the best of both visions (French and Spanish).

BI: How do luxury hotels stand out?
BH:
In Room Mate Hotels, we favor proximity. Each hotel has its first name: "Chez Alain" in Paris, a creative and bohemian young man, where the client is at home. Our priority is service excellence. We only have 4-star establishments, but our luxury is the customer care we give to provide 5-star service to our customers. To offer an extraordinary experience, meet their expectations and even surprise them, we are constantly personalizing our services. For that, we are sincerely interested in their personality, we get to know them. We are thus able to seize the slightest opportunity to surprise them, write them a note on their mirror, sing them a song for their birthday, decorate their room… Our President, Kike Sarasola, has a credo: never say "no" to customers.

BI: How would you describe a successful customer experience in-store, in a hotel or while traveling? What are the key factors to delight and retain customers?
BH:
Customers need to be recognized. It is inconceivable to mechanize or automate the customer experience. Personalizing the welcome and exchanges with sincerity and authenticity is essential in order to adapt to the needs and expectations of customers so that each of them feels unique.

BI: What do you remember from your first stay in a luxury hotel?
BH:
The olfactory signature, the fresh flowers and the smiles on reception. A memory and a feeling that I seek from then on during each stay. In fact, I regularly buy perfume from the hotels I stay in.

BI: What is your fondest memory in a luxury hotel?
BH:
Difficult to choose among the great memories. The great emotion for me is this moment when you pass the key to the room, when you discover with surprise every detail of the room, the colors, the little welcome note that touches you, the well-drawn bed, the softness of a bath towel, the scent of the bedroom ...

BI: What is your biggest regret, your worst experience?
BH:
What is crippling is when a complaint or a remark is not taken into consideration. The customer must not miss anything and his full satisfaction is the number one objective. For this, the human relationship is crucial. Feedback and communication with the customer is not an option.

BI: What is the most luxurious gift you have ever received?
BH:
A ring, a gift full of symbols, with a strong sentimental value.

BI: What is considered a luxury that you couldn't live without?
BH:
Gastronomy, my cute sin! And the hotel industry for the trip.

BI: Which leader are you? What principles guide your professional life and what requirements does the management of a luxury establishment require?
BH:
I am passionate and determined. It is essential for me to live this passion by transmitting it to my employees, by sharing my projects, by arousing the interest and commitment of my teams. Not having entered a hotel school, I learned this passionate profession by practicing it in the field. When I took my first job as a receptionist, I quickly imagined becoming a Manager.

BI: What primary quality do you demand from your teams?
BH:
Passion, professionalism and loyalty.

BI: What fault inspires you the most indulgence?
BH:
Good initiatives which fail but which promote awareness. Taking initiative and learning from mistakes or failures is not to be blamed.

BI: Why is it essential to train your teams in customer service excellence?
BH:
At Room Mate Hotels, we have transcended the concept of the customer to reach people. This is the only way to understand them and to conquer them. They are both the center and the starting point of every innovation. They are the ones who inspired the creation of our products: Room Mate Hotels and Be Mate Apartments. All this was possible because we called on great talents, the Roomies. As we cannot know everything, we surround ourselves with the best, we train them in order to continuously evolve. The excellent service training has been a great help, sometimes even awareness, questioning ... Above all, the training allows our Roomies to evolve on a daily basis. These continuous training courses, throughout the employees' career, guarantee the rise in skills of each individual.

BI: Do you attach particular importance to the posture and interpersonal skills of employees in the luxury industry?
BH:
For me, this is a fundamental part of hospitality, I attach great importance to the first impression that the customer can have, just as much as a customer.

BI: Even as a manager, do we continue to learn a little more every day about luxury, its codes and its multiple ways of embodying it?
BH:
In my 7 years as a Director, not a day goes by that I don't learn something. I wake up every day without knowing how the day will unfold. I thirst for innovation and evolution. Demanding with myself, I always try to learn from my encounters, from the situations that arise… I learned everything on the ground. Every client and every situation is unique. And as luxury continues to evolve, it is necessary not to lose the thread and to continue to be an actor!

BI: What advice would you give to young professionals?
BH:
Stand out with your personality. Work with passion, commitment and determination.

BI: What do you recommend for men: a neat beard or a close shave?
BH:
I leave the choice to my collaborators. As long as the image is polished that's fine with me. The most important thing is that employees feel good about themselves.

BI: For women: for or against red varnish?
BH:
For! I like that my people can express their personality. Personally, red is my favorite color. It has even become commonplace. On the other hand, I am rather reluctant with flashy colors.

BI: If luxury was a color, what would it be?
BH:
 Red.

BI: An animal?
BH:
The lioness for her courage, her strength and her confidence.

BI: An adjective?
BH:
Determined.

BI: An emotion?
BH:
Optimism.

BI: An object? / A work of art?
BH:
Le Bassin aux nymphéas by Claude Monet, a memory of my childhood in Giverny.

BI: A motto?
BH:
"Welcome home". Above all, it is important to me that our customers feel at home.

BI: A virtue?
BH:
Adaptability.

BI: A historical figure?
BH:
Lady Di for her commitment, her independence and her natural elegance.