“I love my city. I love hearing that it’s the most beautiful city in Europe.” This Vatelien turned his love for Lyon into his job, and gave those living in or visiting Lyon their first imperial bus tour with Opentours.
Olivier Michel, the General Manager of the prestigious bus transportation company, N&M, was appointed to the Presidency of the Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants Rhône Alpes [Rhone Alps Young Business Managers Center].
In his Success Story he’ll tell us how he began in luxury hotels, how he took over his family-owned company and give you some good advice.
Olivier Michel, after you graduated from Vatel Lyon, you began working in prestigious hotels: George V, Four Seasons and the Marriott. What kind of jobs did you have and what kind of opportunities came knocking on your door?
Following my final internship, I was hired as the Assistant Restaurant Manager at the George V Palace in Paris. Then as the Assistant Restaurant Manager at the Grosvenor House in London. Then I did my military service at the Elysee Palace and after that became the Night Manager at the Scribe Hotel in Paris.
Then I went into sales and I was promoted as the Sales Manager at the Renaissance la Defense Hotel in Paris. After that I was hired as the Senior Sales Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott at the Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport, before coming back to Lyon at the Assistant Sales Manager at the Meridien and then at the Radisson Hotel.
All these different jobs came from people I met as time went by and led to new opportunities I was able to seize. Then it was my work and involvement in each job that allowed me to be promoted to the next one.
In 2004, you became an entrepreneur, heading a business when you acquired the up-market N&M transportation company. Why did you make this decision?
As my father was also an entrepreneur and his family had also been in the transportation business for 125 years, I wanted to work with my father. An obvious choice as N&M was up for sale. N&M mirrored what I had experienced in luxury hotels.
Can you tell us a bit about it?
N&M is a roadway transportation company for passengers specialized in up-market services. We bring solutions in terms of logistics and transportation for our customers.
We offer transfers between train stations, airports, congress hall, and special events. We also do days in Lyon and in the Rhone-Alps region, evenings, city visits, tourist or industrial sites, etc. We propose up-market buses with 1 to 49 seats adapted to group travel.
For me, this naturally follows what I did when I was working in luxury hotels. We are a complement to business tourism activities for hotels, congress centers, restaurants, etc.
In 2005, you launched the “Lyon Le Grand Tour” sightseeing tour. How did you get this idea and what did it take to put it in place?
When we acquired the N&M bus company in 2004, we had the opportunity of meeting with those who launched Opentours in Paris. After they had launched an Opentour in Nice and Marseille, they were looking for a partner in Lyon. So we jumped on this opportunity to develop this activity in Lyon. This is the reason why we changed our name this year to Lyon L'OpenTour.
How did your hospitality profile and Vatel training contribute, even partially, to your success?
Working in hospitality allowed me to understand that I wanted to work in a service-related domain. And that also opened a huge breadth of work outside of normal working hours for the general public. In transportation, like in hospitality, we are “on” when other people are “off.” My training allowed me to understand this concept.
Since 2011, you have been leading the Rhone Alps Young Business Managers Center and in July, 2014 you will become the President of this Center, which as nearly 480 members. Can you tell us a bit about this Center, its missions and your ambitions?
The Young Business Managers Center is an entrepreneurial center for those who have their own companies. There are 4,200 of us in France and 800 more abroad. It’s the oldest employers’ organization in France, as it was founded in 1938. The Center targets five different subjects which are training, influence, reflection, experimentation and sustainability. We also work on global performance, well-being in the workplace, youth and flexibility.
I’d like to invite each business owner to come and meet others like him or her, plus training as an entrepreneur who runs a company by clicking HERE.
What advice for the future would you like to give Vatel students?
Give yourselves the means to succeed, the future belongs to you. Don’t hesitate to go abroad and discover other parts of the world to enrich yourselves with different cultures.
What are your medium and long-term projects?
We are going to launch a futurist tourist train on the slopes of the Croix Rousse.