Filip Boyen, CEO Forbes Travel Guide, joins Duncan O’Rourke, CEO Accor Northern Europe, on the Heart of Hospitality Podcast
With a career spanning more than three decades, Filip Boyen, CEO Forbes Travel Guide, is widely regarded as one of the leading figures in hospitality. In the latest episode of the industry podcast, Heart of Hospitality, he joins Duncan O’Rourke, podcast host and CEO Accor Northern Europe, to discuss the global staffing crisis, the importance of training, support and mentoring, and the emotional power of great hospitality.
“At Forbes Travel Guide we verify luxury and to us that means we support, we champion, and we celebrate all those with a passion for extraordinary service,” said Filip Boyen.
Filip began his hospitality career as a commis chef and stayed in the food and beverage side of the business for 10 years, working in Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium, France and England, including working under French master chef Joël Robuchon for a time.
In 1993 Filip, then GM of the Presnya Hotel in Moscow, hired Duncan O’Rourke as his F&B Manager and, together with the executive chef Duncan appointed, they transformed the restaurant into one of the best loved and most talked about restaurants in Moscow.
“This is a good example of what we now advocate with Forbes. You created, with your team, something that was amazing,” said Filip. “It became a restaurant that was known for its food and the fine wines and spirits you sold, but most of all, for the human connection. People knew you and our chef would take personal care of them. And that hasn’t changed. At the end of the day, we are still in the people business. It’s all about people. We are here to make the life of our customers just that little bit better every time they visit us.”
He added: “The reason why you and I joined hospitality, Duncan, is because we put people first.”
The two industry leaders address one of the biggest issues affecting the sector: the global staffing crisis. They discuss salaries; sign up bonuses; the commitments many hospitality businesses made to support their talents during Covid and the extensive work Forbes Travel Guide undertook to maintain training for talents across the globe during the pandemic.
Offering advice to those at the start of their careers, Filip said: “If you put people first and you’re determined, I would say there is no industry more rewarding, fulfilling and enjoyable than our hospitality industry.” He added: “Be as open minded as you possibly can, because you’re going to learn from everybody. I can tell you that most of the people I’ve worked with, I’ve learned from, and that, I think, is typical to our industry, because everybody has a different skill set and everybody has very valuable lessons to learn and share.”
The pair talk about Filip’s career which took him around the world from Europe to Johannesburg, the Comoros, Russia, Bora Bora, Peru and finally back to London with Orient Express, Small Luxury Hotels of the World and most recently, Forbes Travel Guide.
A global leader in luxury, Filip has become the authority on great service. He said: “75% of our standards measure the emotional aspects of service. We have nine qualifications, or classifications that we evaluate. The hardest ones are graciousness, thoughtfulness and sense of personalized service.”
He adds: “How you make your guests feel in your hotel is exactly the difference between a good and a great hotel. We always say at Forbes if we make our guests think or work harder, luxury disappears.”
Filip shares stories of the moments that matter, the small touches and people’s attention to detail that makes the hospitality sector so special. “It’s all about people.”
Hosted by Duncan O’Rourke, CEO Accor Northern Europe, the new industry podcast is part of the Heart of Hospitality campaign, built to share the stories of the people behind the moments we love in travel and hospitality. Interviewees in the first podcast series include global leaders of hospitality as well hospitality workers from across Europe.
Hospitality matters because it has heart. For more information and more stories from hospitality, visit https://heart-of-hospitality.com/