Jean-Georges Ploner (Frankfurt, Germany) is a co-owner of Global F&B Heroes, founder of the Club of Restauranters Leaders Club Deutschland, author of 5 books on service management and people in hospitality. One of his books, "Wealth in Hospitality", is named the best book of the year by the Gastronomic Academy of Germany. Together with partners, he has been engaged in business coaching and consulting in the hotel and restaurant industry since 1994, having managed to gain the reputation of an international expert who understands trends, concepts and service management in his work. Given his expert opinion in the field of service management, Jean-Georges strongly influenced the formation of understanding the service culture in German-speaking countries.
How did you come into your profession? What was a story behind your choice?
My parents used to run a restaurant in my hometown of Strasbourg in France. So, the choice was near as I was used to helping since little age. And since I love food, drinks and restaurant atmosphere, I decided to go for it. I got an education in Heidelberg, Germany, where I graduated from the traditional Heidelberg Hotel Management school. After that, I began building my career in the food and hospitality industry. Your job combines a rational part as its management and an emotional part as it is about hospitality and ambiance.
Which part is bigger or they are nearly equal? Is it an art, an experience, and professionalism to combine them in harmony?
Since the focus is supposed to be on the customers, it’s really important to have high empathy for their needs and their moods. Also, nobody can afford to run a business without a return on investment. What all good restaurateurs learned is that if in this business you focus too much on cost reduction instead of increasing sales, you will lose your customers and demotivate your employees.
Could you tell us a bit more about your professional experience - restaurants and hotels you worked with, interesting cases?
I started in a hotel school in Strasbourg, France, and then went international. First Germany with a great five-star hotel Atlantic in Hamburg, then Scotland with Heritage Hotel, a restaurant owned by a French 3-star chef. Then I went back and forth from France to Germany, served in the French Army and attended a hotel management school in Heidelberg, Germany. I had the honor to work long for Mr. Prager from Mövenpick, this time the hospitality company in DACH. I was a part of 5 hotels as well as 3 restaurants opening and used to drive over 80.000 km per year - great time of my life!
I have been a freelance consultant since 1994 and starting 1998 I run my own company. We have projects all over the world, e.g. Dubai, Turkey, France, Italy, and Austria. I learned a lot about running a company from Jumeirah in Dubai. They run amusing places and have very clear standards of service and operation. Our focus is the development of F&B (food and beverage) concepts, service and kitchen management.
What are your impressions of Ukraine, its restaurant scene and industry of Hospitality? How do you see its future development?
There is a great energy in the Ukrainian market and its players. Future looks bright to me since most of them managed to survive the last crises. So, imagine this energy in a booming market. What will be helpful for a good development is that Ukrainians are very cordial, love good food and that the men are hard working with intelligent women on their side. That’s not the case in all countries.
What was your motivation to take part in InRestSummerFest’2018 as a speaker? What are your impressions and what did you get from this experience for yourself?
I was invited to InRestSummerFest by Sofia Kolomytseva, the founder of the festival. We met in Paris and since I was in Ukraine before working for the Reikartz Hotels, I immediately said yes. I like the country, which I explored with Reikartz during a road show from Lviv to Odesa. The audience was very participative and never forgot to enjoy the very pleasant environment and the hospitality of the hotel. Three of my German friends joined in as participants and were very positively surprised how convivial Ukrainians are. My friends and I will certainly come back.
Global F&B Heroes
Photos provided by Jean-Georges Ploner.