Let’s have a little walk down the famous Promenade des Anglais with Vanessa Protat while she tells us about what the “Leisure Activity Market Manager” in a hotel does.
A Vatel Paris 2009 alumnus, Vanessa has been the Leisure Activity Market Manager at the NH Nice Hotel for over two years. And she was just recently appointed as the Hotel Ambassador to implement the new NH Hotel Group standards. A mission she can’t wait to start!
Vanessa, why did you choose to attend Vatel over other schools?
When you’re in your last year of high school in France, you have a host of different streams in higher education and it’s really hard to decide. So I went to the Student Higher Education Fair and the hospitality sector really appealed to me. I met a Vatel student who presented the school to me and its program. Right away I was attracted by the professional conduct and excellence that he described.
I have great memories of the time I spent at Vatel: learning through doing in an intensive way with an educational team that was always there when you needed them. I loved it! As for academic courses, each professor was more interesting than the other with loads of professional experience in the field, making theory come to life.
Attending Vatel was truly an added value in my resume, and allowed me to work in prestigious hotels. The curriculum gave me knowledge and skills that allowed me to quickly be hired in interesting jobs. Vatel gives us the keys, but it’s up to us personally to open the doors leading to success.
What did you learn in your internships?
My first internship took place in the West EndHotel in Nice during the summer season from June to September. This prestigious hotel, located right on the Promenade des Anglais, allowed me to hone my practical skills in the restaurant. At the end of my internship, my managers gave me a large number of responsibilities with a lot of autonomy.
For my second year I was at the La Grande Mare Golf Club in Guernsey. This little English-Norman island allowed me to speak English in a professional context every day, and thus gain fluency very quickly. During this internship I discovered what they really meant by multicultural management: Italian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, English, Indian, German and French people were working together every day.
You graduated in 2009 and have been the Leisure Activity Market Manager at NH Hotel in Nice since the end of 2011. What did you do before that?
I had the opportunity of joining the BSP Agency Internet site team. They work in hotel, cruise and car reservations. I worked in the hotel reservations department, where I discovered “the other side of the mirror.”
After a while though, I started to miss the atmosphere you have when you work in a hotel. So I applied for several jobs in the reservations departments of Parisian hotels. I was hired by Melia Groupe to be the Reservations Manager in one of its four-star hotels,Le Melia Alexander.
I learned a lot here. I put in place procedures and headed a motivated team while always being supported my management.
Then I decided to move back to Nice, as I loved this city when I was doing my first year internship there. I applied to several hotels and was hired by NH Hotel Group as a Sales Representative. My job gradually changed until I was promoted to Leisure Activity Market Manager.
What does that consist in?
My position at NH Nice is between the sales and the reservations departments:
- I’m in charge of the individual segment of FIT contracts.
- With the Revenue Manager I take care of tour operator strategy: pricing, promotions, break-down of allotments, etc.
- I also am in charge of checking monthly statistics and I here I report to the Contract Manager. 
- I respond to group requests, negotiate prices, draw up and sign contracts.
- I even take care of the roominglist to transfer a clear and complete file to the Front Desk, who will then take care of guests when the group arrives.
What projects do you have for the tomorrow? Or next month? Or next year?
I’ve just come back from a few months of maternity leave and have started work again full-time. I’m also looking for an intern so I will be able to convey my knowledge to him or her and be able to train someone in this job that I like so much.
In the mid-term I’d like to change jobs and be promoted within the NH Hotel Group. And maybe if the group wanted to expand to the French Riviera, that would be great!
In the long term, I’d like to have a job with more responsibilities and be a part of the managerial team of a hotel to work globally in all the departments.
 FIT Contract: Free Individual Travelers: a contract for tour operators who sell to travel agencies then to end-users.
 Allotments: the number of rooms reserved per yearly contract for an agency.
 Contract Manager: a person who works in an agency or a tour operator who signs contracts with hotels or service providers.
 ITB Berlin: International tourism exhibition in Berlin for professionals.
 WTM London: World Travel Market, an international tourism exhibition in London for professionals.
 Roominglist: list of guests in a group.