CIRQUE DU SOLEIL REINVENTS HOSPITALITY
The idea of a world-class destination conceptualised, built and operated by world renowned Cirque du Soleil was too good an opportunity to pass up and so, in late 2001, I joined their ranks to head up this sector as Vice President Complexes, Hotels, Spas and Restaurants
With plans and partners already beckoning from Hong Kong and London to Los Angeles and New York, the plan was to replicate the Show process of developing the product in Montreal, perfecting it first and then exporting it from there. Added to these great cities, financiers were also lining up and jostling in Barcelona, Toronto, San Diego, Tokyo and Las Vegas.
The roots for most of the brilliant major ideas and concepts were those of the Cirque's Founder, Guy Laliberte who, in my opinion was light years ahead of other leaders in the hospitality industry.
In the absence of a Strategic Plan, a Plan was needed. Things were moving at too rapid a pace and expenses were spiralling. Perhaps contrary to the process of developing and producing a show, the Plan was completed in a conventional fashion by a conventional group of consultants in a conventional way.......and crashed, unread.
Contrary to the opinions of some, the Pilot Project in Montreal was pursued with the idea that we would then perfect the concept and then develop the new destinations in the five or so top city resorts in the world. Not an easy task when the financial rationale for a conventional hotel In Montreal was doubtful.
The dreams and concepts were sketched, the storyboards written, the architects and stage managers added, refined and perfected as discussions took place on the land and the financing, all of which was to be provided 'by others', a customary approach by those with the creative rights.
The decision to abandon the project was a natural one and fully justified at that time by the following factors,
- Montreal was too small for a project of this magnitude.
- An internal Cirque plan that focused all divisions on the core business of 'creative content' only.
- The Montreal project was not being financed in a conventional way.
- The change in Quebec's government & the loss of continuity in financing by the public sector.
- The enormous 'order sheet' of core business show projects that took priority.
The link between hospitality and entertainment is a real opportunity that is only gradually being realised. The fundamental basics that Cirque du Soleil's founder, Guy Laliberte was demanding of his team in the development of these projects were bright, simple, ageless, flexible, theatrical and interactive. No-one has yet come close to creating anything like the products that we were creating and the millions who enjoy his shows will have to wait a little longer for the conditions to be right, which they were..........but not in Montreal.
The lessons that I learned from this superb experience in a terrific company are best described as follows,
- In developing a plan, never lose site of the audience.
- In creating a new product, listen to absolutely everyone.
- Hospitality is changing but not fast enough.
- Creators of successful businesses have what it takes in any business.
- There are some projects that should be stopped or delayed for good reasons.
- The link between hospitality and entertainment must never be overlooked.
The world will have to wait for Cirque du Soleil's first hospitality destination but, mark my words, when it comes, don't quibble over the rate and make your reservation fast.
For further information on this project, contact Cirque du Soleil.
For hospitality assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org