EHL Alumnus Michel Huguenin, co-founder & CEO of Planitswiss and imavox Group (a corporate events & multimedia company with international operations on three continents) shares his tips on how to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Raised in Africa at a holiday resort founded by EHL alumni, Michel was immersed in hospitality from a young age. This bustling environment unconsciously made him develop a passion for event organization. Through Planitswiss, Michel constantly takes pride in “handling customers better than the market”, while promoting Switzerland’s world-recognized quality at all times.
P.L.A.C.E.: Passionate, Listen, Anticipate, Communicate & Ecological. These are the values that Planitswiss constantly strives to maintain. The company believes that personalization is the key to success. For this reason it's events are always tailor-made, in order to keep the customer at the heart of service.
What challenges does Planitswiss face on a daily basis?
- Catering to each guest’s specific needs: reading through the lines of what the customer truly wants is not only a necessity, it is an art.
- Surprising the customer: for every event, Planitswiss thinks differently. No event is the same, and this is what contributes to the company’s success.
- Communication and cultural differences: taking into account local culture and social norms while maintaining Swiss standards along the way is a true challenge.
- Costs: when the company’s budget shrinks, its members have to adapt to stricter boundaries. However, this also allows them to be creative! Planitswiss recently created an app where everything from brochures to events planning can be digitalized. A smart way to cut costs, reduce its ecological footprint, all the while remaining innovative!
As an experienced entrepreneur, Michel Huguenin has some useful advice for starting entrepreneurs.
- Remember this: no matter what, the customer should always be at the core of your business.
- Spend time listening to customers’ satisfaction and feedback: if it is negative, talk to the customer and try to understand his point of view. Make sure to plan everything with them to avoid setting wrong expectations.
- Timing is key! Planning is crucial to any business, but applies foremost to entrepreneurship. You need to be proactive, and foresee any uncertainties. In events management, anything could go wrong at any time and nothing should be taken for granted!
- Networking: entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. This is why networking is key to building brand awareness and to learning as fast as possible in today’s ever-challenging world. Sometimes an unexpected meeting will boost you impressively, where on the other hand, people you hoped would support you end up pulling you down. Be ready for this and don’t take it personally. Just follow your own path and convictions.
- Ethics: Be ethical and consistent in everything you do!
- Learn from failures: You will fail! But learning from your failures is the best way to progress, and will help you to grow stronger.
Finally, always remember what a “people’s business” is all about: the essence of your company should always be human-driven.
Planitswiss started in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, with no initial intention to expand. As they started serving more international customers, the company began its international expansion in 2008. It now has offices in Singapore, China, Rwanda, and Switzerland, all of which strive to expand their motto “You host, we care”.
Author: Lorraine Van Nijen, EHL Bachelor student