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Tourism works: Why travel matters to Franck Legrand

By Dan Smith | 3 min

He was busy managing television stations in France, when the owners of a California hotel lured him away.


Tourism Works Frank Legrand Headshot 

Name: Franck Legrand
Job: General Manager at the Cornell Hotel de France and Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc, San Francisco
Hometown: Paris, France
Education: Master of Science in Project Management, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Harrisburg, Pa.; Master of Business Administration in Brand Management, HULT International Business School; Master’s in Law and Media, University of Paris I – Patheon-Sorbonne

 

Q: Describe your path working in the tourism field.
I started my career in the entertainment industry managing television stations around France. In this position, I frequently traveled internationally and stayed in hotels with some of the best guest services in the world. After graduating from business school, I met Claude and Micheline Lambert (pictured below) —the owners of the Cornell Hotel de France and Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc—who were looking to make changes to their hotel and kindly asked if I would come on board. This was a huge decision, but after much thought I decided to pack my valises and travel to the Golden State. After five years, I can say that I love working at the Cornell Hotel de France, giving visitors from around the world a unique and authentic French experience in San Francisco.
 
Q: What made you want to enter the travel and tourism industry?
The traveling I did in my previous position made me realize how much effort hotel owners, managers and designers put into their craft. They create distinct ambiances through decor, music and lighting, making guests feel like they are in a different time, country, or, if done well, even at home. I always wanted to be a part of this business and bring my story telling experience from working in television to real-life experiences.

 

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Q: What do you like most about working in travel and tourism?
My favorite thing about working in the tourism industry is – without a doubt – making people happy. Someone once called me “dream maker” and I think it is one of the best compliments I have ever received. Each guest, whether from San Francisco, New York or Europe comes to our hotel with a different expectation. Staff has a few seconds at booking or check-in to understand what they expect and start the experience on a positive note. This can be challenging at times but working to give a guest a memorable experience is never boring. You need to make snap judgements and act on the fly to anticipate the needs of people.
 
Q: What were the most valuable parts of your education?
My previous experience and education help me in many ways. The project management skills I picked up have been a great resource for running renovation projects and my brand management and marketing skills help me take the guest experience to the next level. But the most valuable part of my education is the empathy and understanding I learned along the way. Working at a hotel, you meet amazing people from around the world and being able to connect with guests from all walks of life, who work in every possible field, is essential to success.

 

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Q: What are your goals in the industry?

Great storytelling and extraordinary experiences for hotel guests is critical. Technology offers many tools that help create an experience, but I strive to harmonize technology with real-time efforts. As a manager, our days are busy, and we must rely on our staff. We can create a story, but we need support. Staff members serve as our ambassadors, so staff endorsement and engagement is essential to tell that story. I strive to be the best leader I can to help share our story and provide guests with the best experience possible.
 
Q: Who have been the biggest supporters of your career?
In life, we don’t do anything by ourselves, we need support from family and friends. My family and friends have always supported my choices in life and have served as my advisors when I challenged or questioned my decisions. Mr. and Mrs. Lambert — owners of the Cornell Hotel de France and Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc — are also great supporters of mine. Even though I had no previous experience in hospitality, they trusted me and gave me the opportunity to work in their hotel. It reinforces my belief that no matter your experience, or lack thereof, the most important thing is to work hard, listen to your peers and understand and engage with your customers. I have also been lucky that my staff has been supportive and trusted me to make some changes at the hotel. They have been a great source of inspiration in my journey at Cornell Hotel de France and Restaurant Jeanne d’Arc.