I am one of those fortunate kids who can bring his dreams to life. At the age of six, my parents took me to a small hotel on the border of Belgium and Luxemburg, which really intrigued me. I asked if I could help out and soon found myself assisting in the kitchen and the restaurant. That was the moment I decided to pursuit a career in hospitality. After graduating from Hotel School The Hague (BSc) and Florida International University (MSc), I worked for Marriott Hotels, Hilton International, Holiday Inns EMEA, and Crowne Plaza; in various countries and in various leadership capacities.
After experiencing four hotel openings, I decided to start my own business in 1987 and soon became involved in more hotel openings and cool hospitality projects. In the first decade, my company (we were a relatively small group of trainers and consultants then) focused primarily on hospitality. Several friends and clients from the hospitality sector started working for retailers, banks, and automotive brands. As a result, we got more and more requests to consult and/or develop skills in these industries, with the intention of turning customers into guests. After all, as a guest, you tend to stay longer, come back more often, bring your friends, and spend more time and money.
From 2000 onwards, it became clear that developing a service concept without contextual change would have little impact. I have never been a fan of traditional competency development, but it also became apparent that developing skills and transferring knowledge were not leading to lasting change. Too often, I saw appealing brand promises not being delivered in the field. Working as a strategic partner of leaders of game-changing brands in hospitality, retail, banking, and the automotive industry, I observed how some service/experience concepts were more successful than others. I also experienced that some learning & development initiatives had more impact than others. I felt we needed to help close the gap between what marketers were promising and what was being delivered at the point of experience.
This inspired me to transform my/our own company. The focus would be simple: ‘Transforming business into consistently memorable experiences.’ This prompted me to develop the philosophy of reverse thinking and engineering, as explained in detail in my book “Reverse Journey”.
The reverse approach has been applied by and to numerous leading European and global brands, including (in alphabetical order) Accor Hotels, Adidas, British Airways, Calvin Klein, citizenM Hotels, Emaar Hospitality Group, IKEA, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, KPN, Mazda, Nespresso, Nike, Nokia, Le Pain Quotidien, Renault, Schiphol Airport, The Student Hotel, Tommy Hilfiger, Worldhotels, and many others.