According to Alceu Vezozzo Filho, many investors have hotels as a cash register
The president of Rede Bourbon de Hotéis & Resorts has shared his vision of the hotel market in an exclusive interview with Diário do Turismo
As part of the "Presidential Interviews" series, Diario do Turismo has interviewed Alceu Vezozzo Filho, president of the Bourbon Chain of Hotels & Resorts. The hotel organization was born in the city of Londrina, north of Paraná, in 1963, from the hand of the patriarch Alceu Vezozzo. Almost six decades later, the young Antônio Antimo Vezozzo, 20, has already emerged in the family conglomerate, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, Alceu Vezozzo Filho. This interview was granted by telephone to the editor from DIÁRIO, the journalist Paulo Atzingen.
DIARIO – Alceu, what was your call to the hospitality industry? Where, when and why?
I was born and raised inside a hotel. There is one side that I love, which is, ultimately, dealing with people. A housing facility is a place where you house people, for a variety of reasons. But hosting, welcoming, giving them something good as an experience, that is the crux of the matter. And that is what attracted me a lot, since I was a child, the satisfaction of receiving well.
In this business of mine, before money comes to serve. And you make good money by serving well in the first place. The evil of modern hospitality is that part of the investors see the business as a cash register, even before serving. You don't understand that this business makes money, but financial success comes after serving well. This evolution causes a change, which in my opinion should be the natural origin of this business.
DAILY – Talk about your training and its impact on the activity you do.
I studied Civil Engineering at Mackenzie. Then I studied hotel management at the University of Massachusetts, United States. Engineering teaches you to look at a hotel project and see the execution of the construction. I can say that engineering helped me a lot. I know civil construction projects, and a good project is key to a good hotel operation.
What is the recurring problem in Brazilian hospitality? Architectural projects that, at the time of their execution, hinder the proper functioning of the hotel and resort. Sometimes the deposit is missing. Or parts of the building are missing. The famous design error of the hotel, who approves it does not know it.
DIARIO – There are evils that come for good, says the popular saying. Has the pandemic brought any benefits to the Bourbon network of Hotels & Resorts? What was the biggest learning experience?
I, of course, am an optimistic person. And I think this tsunami was similar to a third world war. It's just a war against an invisible beast. I believe that the C-19 pandemic is controlled, dominated, in ever smaller numbers. And that gives us an even more optimistic view. Three times we managed to take off and aborted the attempt, in 2020, 2021 and early 2022.
Based on my optimism, I calculate that the hotel industry has learned a great lesson, caused by this authentic earthquake. And this teaching extends to the Brazilian industry as a whole. We had to relearn how to consume less labor and deliver the same as was delivered before the pandemic. What is the great lesson of that? Brazil's hotel business has become more profitable. What a paradox! Unfortunately, you have the teaching that changed the drive.
DIÁRIO – Can it be deduced, then, that before the pandemic, excess labor was used?
The reduction of personnel was general, in the Brazilian and world hotel industry. By comparison or analogy, when you can learn to eat less, you maintain health without needing to eat more. More work was always spent than necessary. And the lesson came with the pandemic. That conscientious hotelier, who knew how to learn from the pandemic, made his business more profitable.
DIÁRIO – Do you think people have changed, have they become more attentive and helpful?
Man has become more digital. E-commerce and online sales have skyrocketed. And people learned to be more and more individualistic. A simple smartphone solves the boy's loneliness. People are still the same, I think, but they have learned to be more alone. In their universe of isolation by Covid, they accepted loneliness.
DIÁRIO – In addition to reducing the tax burden, how do you think the government can collaborate with the private sector, especially with the national hotel industry?
The situation is extremely complex. Why? Our beloved Brazil is a gas-guzzling car, an old Maverick, which did two kilometers per liter. I think Bolsonaro has the merit of not having spent so much money and not wasting it. I saw the completion of the transposition works of the São Francisco River. I am following the construction of the new bridge that will connect Brazil and Paraguay in the city of Foz do Iguaçu, scheduled to be inaugurated in 2022, next to Marco das Três Fronteiras. And, also, the works of the new Foz do Iguaçu perimeter road. The fact is that I am a bit skeptical about changes in the tax burden. Maybe it will even happen.
The Brazilian hotel industry received an aid to help recover from large losses. PERSE – Emergency Recovery Program for the Events Sector – provides for five years of exemption from the four federal taxes. That, yes, was a concrete tip received now recently. Other than that, we received nothing, not even a line from Fungetur.
DIÁRIO – What are the plans for the future of the Bourbon chain? New management models? Joint Venture with a multinational? acquisitions?
Can medium and long-term plans be made in Brazil? Brazil is a box of surprises. What do I see, for us, from Bourbon? We have good opportunities, we are working to expand the network, which is already close to 4 thousand rooms. It is already one of the 10 largest in the country.
We are going to grow, continue to grow, but I don't want to swell up. Quantity is not quality. We have colleagues who think it is important to grow in quantity. Not me, I want quality. We will continue to grow, we are the oldest hotel chain. from Brazil. We are a 60 year old lady.
You need numbers, Brazil does not allow. However, we will grow in an organized manner, always focused on our culture, good service, clean environments, building structure in perfect condition. That is the culture of Borbón, which today has around two thousand direct employees.
Alceu: "Numbers are needed, Brazil does not allow them"
DIÁRIO – What do you say about your team of collaborators?
I have a team that I get directly involved with. An amazing team of executives. I give special value to the Human Resources area. My collaborators, I usually say, are my raw material.
DAILY – Ciudad del Este, Asunción and Buenos Aires. Are there expansion plans in the South American market?
There are other opportunities, yes, because we are the only Brazilian international hotel company. That taught us to work outside of Brazil, which is not easy. Opportunities are coming and will be seized, in the short, medium and long term.
DIARIO – At the beginning of August 2021, the Rio Hotel By Bourbon da Barra Funda was inaugurated in São Paulo. Our reporter Mary Ellen wrote the following: “During the exclusive interview with Diário do Turismo, the phone rings. On the other side of the line is her father Alceu Vezozzo, wanting to know if everything has gone well”. Can you describe the importance of Alceu Vezozzo senior in the Bourbon chain?
He was the great mentor, the great teacher and inspirer of the network that we are today. Our culture, our way of working, our attitudes, he has always been and will be our greatest reference.