Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke | 40 Outstanding Global Women 2023
Embrace any opportunity that you are given, try as hard as you can, and never beat yourself up if you fail. That is the advice that Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke, COO EMEA Frasers Hospitality, would give to any young person starting out in their career today.
“falling down is often one of the best ways to learn – Failing is actually succeeding as long as you learn from it,” she says. “Embrace it, do it even if it’s tough. Learn from your mistakes. Put your heart and soul into what you are passionate about if you really want to have an exciting and successfullcareer.”
She acknowledges that for some people particularly since COVID, hybrid working, and work life balance come before making sacrifices in pursuit of a career.
“I still believe if you really want a successful career, you need to invest in it. It is a choice. Today I see a lot of younger people who seem to put the comfort of their lives ahead of potentially what they could ultimately succeed at, perhaps that is just because I am very driven, but I believe they have so much more that they can give and do and for me that is wasting time but perhaps they get the better life balance .”
“Learn from your mistakes. Put your heart and soul into what you are passionate about if you really want to have an exciting and successfullcareer.”
Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke,COO EMEA Frasers Hospitality
Rebecca has had career spanning industries and continents, and has expertise in hospitality, luxury serviced apartments and real estate.
She has held management roles with Hyatt hotels in Paris and Istanbul and worked at The Ascott Limited for 10 years as country general manager for the UK, Germany and Georgia. She has experience in managing and developing diverse teams across different regions and countries and focuses on Customer Satisfaction, Revenue and room sales. She has been with Frasers Hospitality since 2017 and has seen many changes in the years she has worked in hospitality.
“In the very early years when I was working at the front desk travel was still quite an elite thing. People were demanding customers were privileged, but there have been many changes, and there is so much more opportunity to travel today, it is far easier to get around and demand for rooms in terms of quick turnaround, in terms of shorter stay, broadening the market from corporate to leisure has changed completly.”
In many sensesTravel has become more transactional, and less about the adventure, she believes. However people are now reverting agin to seeking experiences that are unique and personal.
“I worked in hospitality long before you checked somebody in on a computer. It is a very different world from a technical point of view, and I think that has changed the emotional aspect. People come and they buy a room and it’s a transaction. That experience element has actually changed a lot.
“In the future I think there will be hotels that are purely transactional, you probably won’t see a person at all, and there will be hotels that really give you an experience that’s exceptional. There will be a lot of consolidation among the bigger players.”
Rebecca’s journey to become a senior leader in hospitality began on a memorable family holiday to Scotland, when she was seven years old.
“I was a really very shy child. I would never go anywhere and I wanted to stay in the comfort of what I knew. Every year my poor parents dragged me around on a holiday in the summer, crying and screaming. All I wanted to do was go home until one year we went to a little tiny hotel in Scotland. The receptionist made all the difference in the world to me. She came out from behind her desk, she went down on her knees and she spoke to me and she asked me why I was crying and actually it was wonderful to be on holiday and she was going to help me make it the most exciting experience that I had ever had. And she did. And I never ever looked back.
“I said to my parents at the age of seven in the car on the way home. I know what I’m going to do when I grow up. I’m going to work in a hotel. I never changed my mind and that’s exactly what I did. I worked from the bottom up worked with a lot of the big chains. Grosvenor House was one of my first experiences and I met many presidents, Prime Ministers, pop stars, and it really opened another world to me. I was determined to do a degree in Hospitality Management which I completed with A*”
From there she went into sales, marketing and revenue and built up her skill set with big brands and international exposure. After working in Europe for a few years she joined Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and experienced the quality product delivery. She worked in Paris, Indonesia and Turkey.
“I’ve had a wonderful career hospitality has enabled me to see the world and to experience different cultures. When I came back to the UK, I had managed to collect a husband and two beautiful girls and decided it was a bit of a challenge for us both to work in hospitality and I met two entrepreneurs who were setting up a business in serviced offices at the time.”
After years of hard work she became managing director of that company and sold it to a competitor. She was then headhunted by The Ascott Limited who sent her to where she started as Regional General Manager for the UK Belgium, Germany and Georgia .
“Frasers offered me the opportunity to go one step beyond and look after Europe, Africa and the Middle East. And I’m now here as chief operating officer looking after growth, acquisitions, investments, divestment, and delivering the the operational experience to the guests at the frontline, which is the back bone of what we do.
Rebecca still glows with the absolute passion for her job, and her love of developing individuals within teams.
“I’m very practical and very hands on. I get involved I care. I would like to think I show great empathy to my teams. But I think the absolute overriding point is just that I absolutely love to give an experience to someone make a difference when they travel.”
She says that her early international experience was initially quite scary but forced her to become independent, learn a new language and immerse herself in the culture of a new country.
“I prefer to be surrounded by people who are far cleverer than me. I would say one of my skills is knowing how to put those people together and getting the best out of them. I know how to pick those people and get them working together so that I’ve got surrounding me a very strong skill set to deliver what we need to deliver well.”
She acknowledges that being a woman in the C-suite can sometimes be lonely.
“I’m one of five people in an executive team and all the others are men. I sometimes feel a little bit on the outside of things and in those situations you’ve got to be quite strong and self-reliant. I’m very lucky that I have a wonderful husband and family who are behind me.”
She is enjoying her current role and has no plans to stop working.
“I will never retire. I’d go crazy,” she says. She has plans one day to set up her own B&B and deliver an amazing experience to her guests. It won’t be in Scotland, though.
“My husband is European, and he needs the sun, so it would probably be France or Portugal. I think that would be very much our hope to enjoy the good life but equally, to work and deliver that experience to other people because I think that brings us a lot of pleasure. We still love to travel and we love to meet people internationally and talk about the world. That’s what gives us pleasure and by inviting people into our own home in a very particular kind of way, would bring pleasure in itself.”