The man who since 2005 headdress the most rated hotel in Mbour is Eric Philibert. Security measures put in place, the managerial system of the establishment, backstage kitchens with "upgrading our homemade pastries with the arrival of chef Sanaa, trainer, issued from pastries known as Fauchon, Le Nôtre ..." through the effects of the laws on tourism without forgetting his proposals for a better attractiveness of the Senegal destination, Eric Philibert tells us about his jewel: the Lamantin Beach and his passion: "this noble profession that is the hotel- restoration "and its counterpart: tourism.
"Compete with Mauritian hotels, those of the Maldives or the 5 stars of Morocco"
How would you define yourself in one word?
Passionate about hotel-catering and tourism.
That's six I think. How would you present the institution you run?
A real Resort with international standards, which despite its large number of rooms is managed as a family manages his house. At the Manatee, a customer is not a number, he is our host, an employee is not just an employee, he is the strongest link in a winning team.
it's like driving a Ferrari for a car enthusiast
After so much time at the head of the manatee - since 2005 - do you start to feel tired about your work?
No, because The Manatee is constantly evolving both in its operating principles as product or marketing. The Manatee is in constant renovation to remain at the international level and with an infrastructure able to satisfy the new needs of our customers. In addition, my consulting missions in Dakar, Bamako, Abidjan and The Gambia also allow me to relax. In the manatee, everything is homemade, so there is always a work of reflection, organization and creation even working 15H per day never bored!
In the light of your experience, would you say that your working conditions have improved or on the contrary, considerably deteriorated?
When we compare to my beginnings, of course, our conditions have improved, because the more your team becomes professional - and I must admit that for ours it is - the more the working conditions of the management improve. . On the contrary, directing the manatee is exciting, it's like driving a Ferrari for a car enthusiast.
Senegal and tourism: the report
Do you still register a drop in the number of tourists visiting Mbour in general?
No, it's the opposite. In the last two years, we have seen a growth in tourist numbers in the Mbour area and in our hotel, but there is still a long way to go before finding the 1990 Tourism figures.
The reasons, according to you?
For Tourism in general, the fact already the abandonment of tourist visas, the slight decline in the price of air, the secular side of the destination, the difficulties related to terrorism of some destination: Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey ...? The fact that Saly is in the green zone in the advice to travelers of the main countries issuing tourists. With regard to the manatee, the diversity of the provenances of customers, the reputation of the hotel with the tour operators which make the Lamantin the reference as far as the segment Leisure hotels on the destination, the strategy multi-clientele: individual, recreation, families and business. Our new facilities dedicated to children and family: The Mini Beach and its pool with 12 jets of water. Let's not forget also "local" tourism, our resident customers who today represent more than 50% of our turnover. The Dakar-Popenguine highway helps us a lot, Dakar is less than an hour from Saly and many Dakar residents come more often for weekends or simply spend Sundays or holidays in "day-relaxation" with us.
Global warming and its response: the Coast Program. Mission? Environmental Protection
How does global warming affect your hotel activities? Its real impact on your immediate environment and how do you overcome these hazards?
We must recognize that beach tourism is perfectly affected by global warming which is among other factors responsible for coastal erosion and marine floods. We had to protect ourselves 15 years ago by a dyke which had a cost and which causes problems of silting in our harbor. But we had no choice and that's how we were able to protect our beach which is today the most beautiful of the Petite Côte.
With regard to global warming, a topic of global concern since the Paris Agreement, it appears that potential tourists change their preferences much more quickly and they are now demanding holiday packages that are less harmful to the climate and resistant to change. Professionals in the sector need to start creating low-carbon tourism products. The destinations must accentuate the diversification of their tourist offer with a large choice of indoor and outdoor activities to alleviate the vagaries of the weather. UNWTO believes that through technology - including energy efficiency - much can be done to reduce carbon emissions in the sector without disrupting current travel patterns. In general, solutions consist of saving energy, improving energy efficiency, using alternative fuels and offsetting carbon emissions.
In the Manatee, through the "Coast" program, we received training and accepted the terms to better protect the environment and several actions were put in place.
- Installation of some solar water heaters mainly for kitchens and spa.
- Office energy is provided by solar panels.
- All the bulbs are replaced by the ampoules of very low consumption, it is the same for the spots.
- An ignition plan for kitchen equipment to rationalize energy consumption.
- The new air conditioners installed are inverter systems from LG allowing 30% energy saving compared to a conventional split.
- Watering gardens is only done at night, it allows a significant saving of water.
- Water savers have been installed in all the taps of the hotel, they considerably reduce our water consumption.
- Also a system of contactors has been put in place in all the rooms in order to systematically extinguish all the lights of the room when the customer leaves his room.
- The sorting of waste also makes it possible to resell the plastic bottles which will be reused. This has two advantages, one is clearly recycling, the other is an income for our "social fund", there is also the recycling of organic waste and oils.
The government of Senegal has established a real Marshall Plan for tourism with the goal: 3 million tourists soon. Do you believe this figure is achievable?
Be careful not to confuse leisure tourism and business tourism. In the tourism figures, we should know what is taken into account. To realize 3 000 000 of tourists, there are simply not enough hotels. The measures have been taken but are they effective? And effective? How many hoteliers have already benefited from the hotel credit we are talking about so much? How many files have been completed? Which travel agencies in France systematically recommend the destination when a customer asks them to relax on the medium-haul? I personally did the test and it is Cape Verde which is recommended!
Do you still see the effects of the measurements?
For some yes, indeed, for example the lifting of the visa, the slight decrease of the tariffs of the air, the progress in the infrastructures.
"We should think about the opening of the sky"
Among the measures that you should have known about, from your field expertise, which ones will boost your industry immediately and in what way?
We should think of the opening of the sky, as have already done the major destinations and it worked perfectly. Just look at the case of Morocco that despite the crises, attacks etc can boast of exceeding the 10 000 000 of tourists.
It should also train and inform travel agencies in the main issuing markets on the positive evolution of the destination. In France, Senegal, in the head of travel agencies, is a goofy destination. It would take a little more events during the Tourism fair to change this: invitation travel agents to a Youssou Ndour concert with a Senegalese evening etc ... E-Communication is almost nonexistent for the destination while today it's essential.
The closure of Sédar Senghor airport is the subject of much publicity. The construction of the new: AIBD also. Is the latter a boon for hoteliers in your area, including you?
A boon is a bit strong word but actually, it will make things easier.
In which way ?
The crews of the airlines already represent a real volume of business for hoteliers in Saly. This will probably help us to work better in the low season. Our customers will benefit from a much shorter travel time, which will make Saly a true medium-haul destination.
Have these hoteliers - of which you are a part - taken steps in this new paradigm, the new airport?
For my colleagues, I do not know, at least for The Manatee, yes.
For you, is the AIBD a great Christmas gift made before the hour? In this matter, a few weeks. And indeed generating income on the short, medium and long term?
Because of the global climate affecting the local, security is an essential factor. The hoteliers have they decreed essential element of any self-respecting establishment?
Yes, perfectly, we are responsible for the safety of our customers but also of our teams. The hoteliers, the State, of which all the security organs: gendarmerie, police and army seriously discussed it, simulations have even already been made in some establishments to better apprehend the phenomenon.
Concretely, to the manatee do you have and, or, you envisage a reinforcement of the security in order to guarantee to your customers a relative peace of mind? In this sense, did you release a budget for this purpose?
Since the bombing of Tunis, where we all could discover terrible images of tourists killed on a beach of hotels, we took serious measures. Our security team is armed, it is completed by three handlers with dogs specially trained in the management of car rams, and to intervene against men in arms. There is also the gendarmerie which has elements 24H / 24 within the hotel and the GIGN which protects Saly in general and can intervene in a few minutes. We also benefit from a dam at 200 meters from the hotel that can also very quickly intervene. Other tools have also been put in place but I prefer to remain discreet about that.
"90% of our executives today are former employees of the hotel or in some cases even former interns"
Can you tell us about your social side?
Our job is a profession that relies entirely on human resources. I always say, a hotel can be equipped with gold toilet if it does not have the right motivated team and perfectly trained in the techniques of reception, service and management that will not work properly. Human Resources is therefore a priority for us. We do our own training for our teams or with the help of external service providers from the upscale international hotels. The training component is very important. Motivational tools are in place and effective: award-winning employees of the month, award-winning employees of the year, big-budget staff parties, quality medicine in the best clinic in Saly, bonuses of up to two months salary, social security fund to help during death, birth, marriage or simply difficult situation. This year, an employee went on a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and many other actions are being taken in this direction.
The most important is our management which has allowed in 10 years to set up an internal promotional device and we can confirm that 90% of our executives today are former employees of the hotel or in some cases even old ones trainees. To name just a few examples: the accommodation manager was a receptionist, the reception manager too, our chief accountant was a trainee in its infancy, our 1er butler started trainee, our chef was a clerk cooking etc ...
Aware that tourism must be beneficial for all, we support very periodically the craftsmen, the inmates of the Thiès Mac ... The manatee educates some 20 needy young people who would not have been educated without it. With the help of mosques and the church in our area, we make donations to families in difficulty.
Each year, we traditionally invite two classes of young people between 08 and 12 years to introduce them to our professions and to interest young people in this noble profession that is the hotel and catering industry.
How do you see the manatee in ten years?
If you look at 10 before and today, there is a bigger, nicer, safer and better functioning hotel. Our results, both accounting and qualitative - customer feedback - show a good progression. I can only wish the same for the next 10 years and especially hope that one of my assistants today will occupy my chair and obviously, will do better than me.
"We have beautiful projects in Senegal"
What are the other ongoing projects of your structure?
We have great projects in Senegal ranging from boutique to town hall, bush lodge to seaside sports resort, all on a high end segment (mini 4 stars). As so far, these are only projects, I can not give you more details. But it is certain that in front of the success of the manatee, small Manatees will be born in the next years.
You live and work in Senegal, what does this country represent for you?
My country of adoption and heart.
What do you want?
Maximum economic growth and much deserved for the well being of this wonderful population. Employment for all those young people whose parents often sacrifice themselves to finance studies.
"Compete with Mauritian hotels, those of the Maldives or the 5 stars of Morocco"
The reputation of the manatee is well established. Are you still launching challenges?
We must always be careful when we are in front, remember the tortoise and the hare ... There is no question for us to fall asleep on our laurels, nothing is ever perfect in our profession, we do like all the world of mistakes but we try to correct them immediately and it is the role of our quality manager. We are always questioning ourselves. Every day a quality brainstorming is organized with the executives but also with a member of our different team. We are embarking on almost every day new challenges, we do not look at our competitors on the spot but try every day to compete with hotels in Mauritius, those of Maldives or the 5 stars of Morocco.
Currently having worked on a "smart" child product not based on basic activities but rather on cultural activities - singing lessons, painting on sand and glass ... and also on learning to respect the environment - we are today on the upgrade of our homemade pastries with the arrival of the chef Sanaa, trainer from the pastries known as fauchon, Le Nôtre, and the establishment of a new revolutionary concept in the spa: the "watermass Which combines the millennial benefits of hot water, essential oils, with a powerful and pleasant modeling.
"My concept of management is that when everything is fine it is thanks to our teams and when things go less well it is the responsibility of the management"
Finally, the fact of being for so many years and at the head, and shareholder of the hotel the more side of Mbour does not expose you to the effect "King of the world" and all the egocentric drifts going with?
King? Of What? In our profession, the only kings are the customers and I am the leader of their servants and therefore servant myself. I would be given a large desk with 25 assistants that I will be unhappy, I have a real need to serve and see happy faces in our clientele. Once again, our goal is not to be the most coastal resort, but our goal is simply to satisfy an increasingly demanding clientele and to allow the company to progress socially and socially. professional to everyone. My concept of management is that when everything is fine it is thanks to our teams and when things go less well it is the responsibility of the management.
One last word ?
Hospitality is a real profession in its own right that requires a certain level of training and experience. We must, in Senegal, in the field of tourism in general, be even more professional and rigorous. Senegal deserves a real tourist growth that will necessarily serve as a lever for development and the economy. This wonderful population deserves it so much.