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The 2024 edition of EXCELLENCE by Vendôm x Glion delivered outstanding insights to the audience present in Paris and those joining online. As host and moderator, The Insider’s Martin Green was zoned in for all five hours of sparkling discussion, and here he looks back on the successful event…

They came to Paris to talk luxury, bringing with them an incredibly broad spectrum of insights and opinions, not to mention experience gained at the most exalted levels of the industry.

The EXCELLENCE by Vendôm x Glion panel series took a step up in 2024, with more guests, better broadcast technology, and a set of topics designed to get everyone thinking about the industry’s key challenges and opportunities – from diversity to sustainability to digital transformation.

Here you can revisit all four panels and watch the full, uninterrupted video captured on the day:

Panel 1 – Yes, she can: women luxury leaders

This sensational start to the day promised women luxury leaders and delivered exactly that, in the form of Maud Bailly, CEO of Sofitel, MGallery & Emblems for Accor group, alongside Marie Sermadiras, CEO of Cosfibel, and Anne-Charlotte Bellanger, CEO of Delcourt Collection & Collection Particulière.

Bouncing ideas and opinions off each other with freedom and candor, the three top executives got to the heart of what it means to be a female leader in the world of luxury, while also discussing the importance of encouraging diversity in all its forms as a way of building a high performing organization.

It was a debate that got to the heart of what it means to be a leader in the 21st century, the particular challenges of the ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘glass cliff’, and how to balance a leadership career with the demands of parenthood. The session concluded with our panelists’ words of advice to the young female talents in the room – and across the world – who may be ambitious to follow in Maud’s, Marie’s and Anne-Charlotte’s successful footsteps.

Watch the panel in full here:

Panel 2 – Loving and being loved: new paradigms for luxury service

In the 2023 EXCELENCE by Vendôm panel series, François-Henry Bennahmias, then CEO of watchmaker Audemars Piguet, spoke about how he’d striven to “deploy love” among his workforce, to enable them to better serve the brand’s ever-expanding customer base.

That gave us an idea for 2024: why not explore the genuine love that many luxury consumers have for their preferred brands; how a brand can nurture that love and, perhaps more importantly, how to avoid destroying it.

Given the topic in focus, it made perfect sense to invite François-Henry – now free of his responsibilities with AP – back to expand on these themes, in the company of two other senior professionals who could each bring fresh perspectives not just relating to luxury goods but also encompassing the worlds of premium hospitality and fine wines.

The panel line-up was thus completed by Alexis de La Palme, a Glion alumnus who is today Chairman of the Management Board of Edmond de Rothschild Heritage, and Christophe Wygas, Chief Commercial Officer at Montblanc.

Nobody held back, making for an engaging hour-and-a-quarter during which the audience were also treated to a piece of classic Bennahmias off-script action!

Watch and enjoy:

Panel 3 – Luxury: cherishing our past, shaping our future

Where next for luxury?

It’s an industry that thrives on celebrating its past through great storytelling which brings a brand’s history and heritage vividly to life. But while luxury cherishes its past, the industry must also look to the future, adapting to demographic changes and new sales channels, while also facing potentially existential challenges around sustainability.

Our third panel put the industry’s past, present and future squarely in the spotlight. As ever, the Vendôm Company had been careful in its curation, so we were joined by three individuals who brought a refreshing range of different perspectives to the table.

Returning to the panel series was Véronique Beaumont, General Manager and COO of ESMOD, the world’s longest-established fashion school, whose students had provided some eye-catching pieces for display throughout the Hôtel de Marois venue. Véronique was joined by Marie-Ann Wachtmeister, Co-founder and Creative Director of COURBET, the sustainable luxury jeweler specializing in lab-grown diamonds, and Fabienne Lupo, the former CEO of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) who is now making waves in the area of recommerce and the circular economy through her ReLuxury venture.

Three contrasting personalities and resumes made for an engaging session that tackled generational change, ESG, and the challenges of building a new luxury brand with sustainability at its heart.

Re-live the discussion – in full – here:

Panel 4 – How the luxury industry is responding to generational change and digital upheaval

After a day of intense debate, and with the clock ticking towards late afternoon in the French capital, it would have been easy to let the energy levels drop for the final panel discussion of the series.

That the debate on generational change and other upheavals proved just as enthralling as the others is due in large part to the three panelists, who each brought their ‘A’ game to the Hôtel de Marois stage.

As ever, the contrasting backgrounds and perspectives of the hand-picked panel was the key to success. We had the luxury hotel business represented, in the form of Marie-Pierre Morelle, the Director Europe, Travel Trade for The Leading Hotels of the World. We had full spectrum hospitality covered by Antoine Ménard, the Chief Creative Officer of Paris Society International. And we had all segments of the luxury business exemplified by Fabrice Gautron, a vastly experienced industry specialist who is presently part of the team at the international management consulting firm Roland Berger.

The conversation didn’t let up until time was reluctantly called with the clock passing 5pm. Reward yourself by revisiting the panel in full here:

And keep an eye out for future editions of The Insider, where we’ll be picking up the story with at least two of our prestigious panelists…

Photo credit

All images courtesy of the Vendôm Company.

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