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Innovative leadership: Guillaume Hubert de Fraisse

Guillaume Hubert de Fraisse isn’t afraid of change – rather, he embraces anything new that comes his way, choosing to use it as another opportunity to learn and grow. “The trust given to me by my managers at PVCP allowed me to experiment with different initiatives from the very beginning, which as a result has enabled me to grow the company,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “I have great leaders, with vision and passion, so it’s always been very inspiring.”

Indeed, Guillaume is a true product of French-owned tourism services and property management company Pierre & Vacances – Center Parcs (PVCP) and its world-class leadership, having initially entered the company as an intern, only to go on to become CEO of his business unit, PVCP China Real Estate Brokerage, after just six short years. Guillaume’s intense passion for what he does is deeply rooted in the belief that if you provide customers with a high-quality offering, you’ll build a loyal following and safeguard longevity.

“It’s about offering good products, in good time, in good places,” he explains. “The tourism real estate market in China is just at its beginning, and the potential is tremendous. The kind of raise we’re seeing here happened about 30–40 years ago in Europe – but the evolution is much quicker. There’s been a huge increase in terms of digitalisation, and over the past three to four years, we’ve seen the dematerialisation of the purchase circle and the increase of promotion through social networks.”

But far from being fearful of the rapidly changing state of the industry, Guillaume explains that PVCP is welcoming and embracing this progression – because, after all, innovation is truly in the company’s DNA.

“The tourism real estate market in China is just at its beginning, and the potential is tremendous.”

“It first started when our Founder Gerard Brémond developed the first environmentally friendly ski resort in the world in 1967 and invented the ‘new property’ leaseback scheme when investments in tourism were mainly being done through timeshares,” he recalls. “And we really try to continue this innovation wave by working with startups with lots of talent and ideas developed around the digitalisation of the real estate buyer’s journey.

“The sector has remained very traditional in many aspects, but new tools are emerging. We just partnered with a company working specifically on the visit process whereby we are now able to guide our clients through our properties via not only a virtual visit but a real digitalised experience where clients can interact online with the sales advisor as well as doing their own 360-degree visits.”

While Guillaume concedes that COVID-19 presented more than a few challenges for PVCP, he says that ultimately the challenges were transformed into constructive learning prospects that have instead benefited the entire operation.

“The pandemic was very hard and destabilising for everybody,” he says. “Within a week, we had to change our working habits and adapt all our processes. To be honest, we weren’t ready for this tsunami, but thanks to hard work and collaboration, we’ve created a stronger and more efficient company. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support from every employee.”
In addition, Guillaume is adamant that the repercussions from the pandemic could also provide the industry with a much needed and long-overdue shake-up to improve practices across the board.

“The main challenge was to deliver answers to ongoing fears and give confidence and trust to our investors, which we managed to do,” he says. “I’m convinced, however, that these turbulent times will ‘clean’ the market; for many years in our industry, we’ve seen unprofessional and unstable companies offering unrealistic things to clients. So, the pandemic may also be a natural way to eliminate these companies that are tarnishing the industry.”

Instrumental in bolstering the company’s profile and reputation, as well as ensuring significant but sustainable expansion in China, have been PVCP’s trusted suppliers.

“As a foreign company working in China, we have a different approach to the market,” Guillaume says. “We’re trying to implement our European habits and products, but of course with a local adaptation. As the product we’re offering is really new on the market, we’re doing 90 per cent of our communication and sales online, which is something very uncommon in China for the property market. We’re fortunate to have partners such as CCI France-Chine which has been an amazing support for companies working in the French Business Environment. They really helped us on our arrival in China and without their continuous support, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today.

“To be honest, we weren’t ready for this tsunami, but thanks to hard work and collaboration, we’ve created a stronger and more efficient company.”

“In order to develop and implement our processes, we require time and education to build trust with our partners and suppliers, but thanks to direct and honest communication and proven results, they have utmost confidence in us, and together, we can create additional value.

“For example, Yoann and Crystal at Infinity Growth instilled a very positive atmosphere within the sales team which brings a positive circle of results. We immediately saw the benefits of their coaching on the result. While Skema Business School is a long-term partner of ours offering high-quality training for management and executives, and a pool of highly trained bi-cultural candidates. Some of our best employees come from there.”

Now, looking to tomorrow, Guillaume is certain that PVCP will only continue to expand and evolve into one of the industry leaders across the region.

“The policies, market and context are all very favourable for the development of our business in China,” he explains. “If we’re able to scale up accordingly, we will have a very bright future.”

A big believer in a less-is-more approach, Guillaume’s advice for those looking to replicate his success is equally simple, but invaluable: “Learn,” he says. “Learn every day, and the day you don’t anymore, change jobs.”

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