Jean-Paul Guillobel, a Haitian who was sure he wanted to work in tourism, decided to attend the very best hotel management school: Vatel in France! With his Vatel dipoloma in 2010, he came back to Haiti with a wealth of professional experiences and is now one of the most famous hotel marketing consultants in the country.
Why did you choose Vatel and what memories do you have?
When I was 12, I went on a cruise in the Caribbean islands with my parents and I was fascinated by jobs in the hotel industry and how dynamic tourism was in that area. I wondered why Haiti wasn’t taking advantage of its touristic and cultural heritage in order to make tourism a sector driving its economy. So I looked into this, and found out that Haiti actually was one of the pioneers in tourism in the Caribbean islands in the 1940s to 70s, and that lasted until the political unrest we had when the Duvalier regimes were overturned in our country. So I decided to work in tourism and left to get an education in hotel management at the leading school: Vatel in France!
I decided to enroll at Vatel Nimes in order to be in an urban area while having an international education with students from all over the world. I’ve got great memories of the time I spent at Vatel, especially:
- my teachers who were all enthusiastic professionals,
- my classmates who allowed me to discover different cultures, ways of thinking and managerial techniques,
- my internships in beautiful and famous hotels,
- my theoretical courses that I put into practice every week at the Vatel Hotel & Spa****.
Tell us about your internships and what you learned from them.
I started in 2007, in Megeve, in the French Alps, with the Maisons & Hotels Sibuet Group, in a little chalet called Hotel du Coin du Feu*** in the restaurant, at the front desk and as the Administrate Assistant. Because they were happy with the work I did, the group recontacted me for a summer season in accommodations in 2008 and at the front desk in 2009 at the famous Hotel Mont-Blanc****. Between that, I did my second year internship in Corporate Sales and Marketing in the Brussels-based PDG group, which, at that time, owned: Le Chatelain All Suites Hotel*****, the Progress Boutique Hotel**** and the Hotel des Colonies***. One of my best professional experiences and the one that made me want to work in Marketing! Victor Camhis, my internship manager, who manages the group today, a dynamic, detail oriented and strict man, was the best Manager I ever had in my whole career.
In September and October 2009, before starting school again, I decided to complete my training by two months in F&B in the Alain Ducasse Cooking School in Paris. A short but intense experience that allowed me to hone my sense of the smallest detail. And finally, from June to December 2010, I did my final internship in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as the Sales & Marketing Assistant in the three ACCOR hotels: Mgallery Hostal Nicolas de Ovando***** Mgallery Hotel Frances**** and Hotel Mercure Comercial***. I was in charge of contacting the neighboring sector of Haiti, developing business relationships with travel agencies, influential customers in my native country and setting up relationships with governmental organizations. My internships and Vatel courses taught me to be realistic, efficient, very strict and painstaking.
Then how did opportunities begin to knock on your door when you returned?
When I came back to Haiti in 2011, right after the earthquake, the economic situation was difficult and my training in hotel management was less sought after. So I took advantage of this to expand my skill sets to related sectors of activities. That’s how I started my career as a Sales Supervisor at Tampico, a fruit juice company in Haiti. I was quickly promoted as Assistant Sales Manager for a sister company, Cannex S.A. As I wanted to continue in Marketing, I took the job of Research and Project Manager for Scream, a Marketing Agency. Because of all these rewarding and varied experiences, I started to work as an independent Consultant in the HTR sector and to work as the Industrial Sales Consultant for a Colombian multinational in Cement and Concrete, ARGOS, which in Haiti, is named Cina.
Today I work independently, as a Consultant in Hotel and Special Events Marketing and publish quite a few articles.
My services include:
- marketing and social media strategies,
- designing special events,
- public relations,
- training in the hospitality sector, etc.
Customers I’ve worked with include:
- many famous hotels,
- special events companies,
- a delivery company,
- a foundation,
- a pub, and many more.
Through my Consultations, I create personalized links between service providers and their customers, so they can resist what our competition offers.
My missions consist in:
- analyzing changes in the market,
- drawing up marketing strategies and communication plans,
- creating innovative concepts that will be profitable for the customer,
- marketing campaigns,
- managing Supplier relationships,
- contacting hotels, restaurants and night clubs.
In your opinion, what qualities and skills do you need to be a consultant in this field?
Generally speaking, all consultants have to be thorough and well organized. You have to know how to manage your schedule and be ready to change it, especially in a country where political and social unrest can cause problems.
You took part in writing the book “Le Tourisme: l'ouverture pour le peuple de Toussaint? Précis sur le tourisme en Haïti.” How did you have this opportunity?
Three years ago I started contacting Hugues Seraphin, the author of this book. I was introduced to him by Laurent Botti, a lecturer at Vatel Nimes, who has a PhD in Tourism and who I’ve kept in contact with. Hugues Seraphin is a lecturer in tourism and special events at the University of Winchester in England. He often consults me about changes in tourism in Haiti.
What do you think the future holds for tourism in Haiti?
The government and its various local and international partners have understood that tourism is worth developing, especially because of the social and economic potential it has. In the past three years, tourism was strengthened in the touristic areas of the North and Greater South. There are many on-going projects. Many international groups have already materialized large projects, in particular, Occidental Hotels & Resorts, Best Western International Inc., NH Hotel Group, Marriott Hotels and soon to open Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Other important projects to develop tourism concern Ile-a-Vache, Jacmel, Ile de la Tortue and are strong signals that tourism will be starting up again, outside of Port-au-Prince. I think that all these projects, when they’ll be rolled out, will improve and diversity the HTR market and open up career opportunities to the local and international populations.