So while consumer behaviour changes, it doesn’t change in the way that people necessarily predicted a few years ago. We’ve actually see an increased call volume in our call centres at the same time as an explosion of activity on our digital sites and on our apps, so I think that’s an interesting thing; you [...]
So while consumer behaviour changes, it doesn’t change in the way that people necessarily predicted a few years ago. We’ve actually see an increased call volume in our call centres at the same time as an explosion of activity on our digital sites and on our apps, so I think that’s an interesting thing; you [...]
The new generation of talent is visual and creative
I just saw this morning on the television here in Berlin, a whole transmission on, a new concept of, working only with icons, so we don't have a language any more, but we work only with icons, which would help to have all the language issues worldwide eliminated in one go. But this is very much the new generation, I mean everything is, with pictures, everything is visual, everything is, short and fast, you know, I mean what we see in the span of attention is not too high, not too long, so you need to interest in them and involve them in a very short period of time. I think visuals help a lot there. And I also support the creativity of the young generation, there's a lot of creativity and imagination, and if you try to, to limit that down to words, it’s not in line with how they function. So that's what we see, and and it means that in our curricular at our school and our university programs, we work very much with simulations, and er, interactive courses etc, so to really involve them directly and give them the chance to, to, work on their creativity. And we see that happening, and because, I mean, our students yesterday, that one against it was Cornell, it was really based on a sort of really creative imagination of how the world could be if you look into the developments of an Airbnb and all other kind of of Uber's etc that is going on. If you look into, into this development, they find a sort of very easy going answer, it's not complicated. And I think this is one of the skills of the new generation.
I think what they are is, is offering consumers this choice. I might be willing to stay at a, a mainstream hotel whilst I'm at work, but equally at weekends I might fancy something differer. I might fancy going and staying in a hostel in a European city with my family, and I might not necessarily want to have that full service experience. I might be very comfortable to stay in a, in a hostel with my family and not necessarily need a dinner and bed and breakfast offering; I might be just happy to go and sort myself out. And I think also, the offerings in terms of some of them are a bit edgier for example; maybe that's something that I might be interested in exploring and I think this, this is the, this is what it's all about now, it's about choice, and I think then in terms of the safety from a banking perspective, if these are well managed propositions, if they've got sustainable cash flows, sustainable business models, this is exactly something which a funder would want to explore.
A new approach to accommodation for a new generation
I think a lot of it is just an entirely new approach aimed at the millennial’s, which is lets make it fun, lets make it communal, you know the old style hotel, with the elderly concierge in his slightly battered jacket, whose a little bit hard to approach, and a bog standard room that, you know, has one bit of standard art in it. I think all of these things are going away now. People do want, perhaps a bit more buzz in the public areas, a bit more genuine comfort, in the bedroom areas, you know, it was Barry Sternlicht who started this with a "heavenly bed" and a "heavenly shower". And suddenly people are realising, you know "what do the guests actually want?" you know, they want, good mattresses, good pillows, good duvets, good showers, ok, but then when they come down, they want a bit of life and I think most of the modern brands are creating this kind of community feel, which is much more kind of modern and with it.
Workplace culture is beginning to incorporate more efforts to improve the wellness of staff. In this TV show Nicolas Mayer discusses the benefits of napping.
Workplace culture and employee wellness
We have a room in the office which has you know, ten recliners or eight recliners and we encourage people to go take naps. So we have a room in the office which has you know, ten recliners or eight recliners and we encourage people to go take naps. Now, new joining team members find that rather strange, you know they say 'I can't take a nap, you know, I can't go tell my boss, Boss, I'm going for a nap now' but that's exactly what we want to do. We actually had to kind of be role models, and start napping as partners in order to show our teams that it's okay to take a nap. Scientifically it's proven, and I can also prove it from my own, where I can contribute from my own experience, these power naps, you know, 20, 25 minutes when you need them, they are fantastic, and the purpose is not to send you back to work you know, a lean mean working machine, but it's just to get you balanced again. Continue in your work, you will be a little more productive in your work, but then equally important to me, send you home back to your family and friends, not as a wreck, but as someone that certainly has worked a good day, but is still there, physically, mentally and is able to you know enjoy and partake in his family life, and his friends' life, and his sports and whatever, so napping is fantastic. I can highly recommend it.
Brand reputation can make or break a hotel. In this TV show Misha Pinkhasov discusses nurturing trust through authentic customer relations.
Building brand reputations through staff
Trust is particularly an issue that's acutely important since the financial crisis, 2008/2009. Because a lot of institutions were seen as having fallen down on the job. Institutions that we trusted, be they banks, be they the public sector. And, and I don't think that those questions have necessarily been resolved sufficiently. With trust in institutions low, with that comes trust falls the trust in CEOs, and anything that represents a corporate voice. And one of the things that studies by Adelman and Burson Marshall have shown that is that consumers trust front line employees much more than they trust brand communications. So this is becoming crucial for brands to, if a brand wants to control its messaging, and if the front line employees are really what's now driving the relationship with the customer, more than the marketing, more than the advertising, more than any of the top level spin, brands have to be very careful about how they cultivate their corporate culture. So that the front line employees can be authentic, and can be themselves, and still represent what the brand wants them to represent. We're getting into an area where brands can no longer police the behaviour of their staff. You can't, you can't just set up a framework and say this is what you have to do. You're going to kill the spark in the relationship with the customer by doing that. What's much more effective is to create a culture within which people know what is acceptable behaviour, what is not acceptable behaviour. What is desirable, what is undesirable. And then let them interpret that. And live it in their own way,
The Hospitality Channel will continue to discuss ideas around brand reputation and trust. Look out for the next 10 industry experts to be announced as part of Hospitality250.
Hospitality service, be it good or bad, will be what a hotel is remembered for. In this TV show Nicolas Mayer discusses how good service is a home away from home.
A focus on hospitality service
Many industry participants I believe sometimes have lost focus on the fact that service has at least an equal part to play to product. In provision of services. So very specifically, hospitality has come out of a service orientation where the building was important, but it was never the key. So you had lots of inns that were not so glorious but great service, whereas it has too much shifted now into an asset game, with service being left to the side.
Ritz-Carlton, in the 80s, in the 90s mainly in the 90s, did something very much right, and I think it has been adopted by many other ones, sometimes even improved, but looking back at Ritz-Carlton and saying what did they do back then, why did they do it, what was George Schultz's motivation back at that time? I think from there you find many of the seeds that has now seeped into many other companies that do it right.
Ultimately service is attention and time from someone that is taking care of me when I am away from home. And I think that is a very important element, I mean, even very seasoned travellers have a certain residual, let's say loneliness when you are travelling, right? You are away from home, you are away from your family, you are away from your, you know, familiar surroundings and as you arrive in a new place, very psychologically intuitively, you are looking for experiences that make you feel welcome and warm, to say you are safe here, you're welcome here, you're appreciated here, and in that space is where service happens.
It's probably not very complex from an intellectual perspective, but it is never the less very difficult to get it right because it's long term, and it's consistent. You know, if you built a building, you have to have a one-time effort, get it right.
Providing service and making sure you have a team, a workforce within your hotel, that consistently provides this kind of service, means that you have to be on it every day.
The Hospitality Channel is very interested in hospitality service, operations and staff. Look out for the next 10 industry experts to be announced as part of Hospitality250.
Why elephants are important to the African tourism industry
A huge asset in the African tourism industry is the unique landscapes on the continent. Elephants are a part of what makes Africa special, as Jackie Somers of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust discusses in this TV show.
African tourism industry driver
It’s important on a number of levels. In Kenya one in four jobs is reliant upon tourism. If we don’t have elephants we’re not going to have much, or wildlife generally, we’re not going to have that draw for tourists to come to this country. Elephants are really important for the eco system. You know they initially thought that in Tsavo National Park where there used to be huge elephant populations, at one stage they thought that they were destroying the park, there were too many elephants, what do they do, do they cull them or what happens? And nothing happened, they didn’t cull the elephants and naturally there was a dry spell and the population was reduced by natural means. And this is how it should be. And this is, you know, the elephants can understand. Elephants are very similar to humans, they grieve, they have a long lifespan like us, they remember, they look after their children, you know, it’s incredible how much like humans they are. So yeah, their eco system in the park then if you get a lot of elephants they destroy all the bush. But this actually was a good thing because it allowed the smaller species, the smaller plants to regenerate. So it actually opened up vast areas for grazing animals and things like that. So you know, it’s all there in nature’s plan, that’s why it’s important.
Hospitality TV has more great shows on the African tourism industry as well as briefings focused on a variety of tourism markets.
Health and Wellness can be a great tourism driver, as Jovica Mracevic discusses in this TV show.
Health and Wellness extends seasonal markets
For a number of reasons. First we believe that organic food and organic market and a health and a wellness is something that we should be focused on because we all today want to be healthy, to be happy, to live longer, to be more youthful. So we are certainly focusing on that. And that is one of our, let’s say brand pillars that we have for our development. The other thing why we are focusing on it because we are looking into extending the seasonality aspect of the coast of Montenegro. So far Montenegro has been mostly a seasonal destination with the majority of its tourists, close to 90% of them coming within the four months period, June, July, August and September. However looking into these other options such as the wellness and a medical spa as well as the conference centre and catering towards that kind of niche of market, is something that can help us extend the seasonality and go into other seasons such as winter, fall and spring.
Seasonal markets are common in the hospitality industry. There will nearly always be variations in revenue throughout the year. In this TV show Hala Choufany discusses the seasonal markets in Saudia Arabia.
Cultural seasonal markets
We do a lot of work. Saudi Arabia at this point in time, as we speak is probably the focus points would be the holy cities and this is not necessarily reflective of the entire of Saudi Arabia because naturally with the religious tourism these markets will always grow. You’ve got a growing Muslim population which naturally would feed into more. The pipeline for Makkah specifically is extremely aggressive. But again, I mean, there’s always going to be seasonality in that market, but the case of oversupply is existent. However the dynamics of this market is very different to say Jeddah or Riyadh. So in looking back at what has happened in Saudi Arabia over the last couple of years there has been obviously great improvement in RevPAR occupancies rate and performance of tourism indicators in both Jeddah and Riyadh. Jeddah however benefits from limited, if any new supply coming in, which is obviously helping occupancies being achieved in excess of 80% whereas Riyadh seems to be struggling more with all the new supply that is coming in, especially that as a market it’s not diversified, it’s very much of a corporate market so hence the seasonality is more pronounced.
Dubai's government sees development potential in values hotels according to Lo'ai Bataineh, who discusses facilitating the needs of the Dubai youth in this TV show.
Youth market creates hotel development potential
Two years back we came up with a fund and that fund was particularly investing in these particular assets. And we were targeting actually low scale hotels. And apparently this was big demand, for example now, Dubai government they are making things or facilitating to come up with more hotels in this category in order to attract young people to travel and to spend more time and money. And you know, I believe there is shift and quality of thinking across the youth people across the region to travel and to explore more opportunities or explore more countries and enjoy their life, a matter of saving. And I think there’s shift in thinking in terms of saving money, everybody willing to consume more or to spend more in order to tap certain needs and requirements.
If you are interested in Middle East markets and development potential then keep browsing The Hospitality Channel for more fantastic videos on these and related subjects.
Working in hospitality is so much more than serving tables
Working in hospitality allows more progression that people often think. In this TV show Anita Mendiratta discusses changing perceptions of ‘hospitality’.
What working in hospitality really means
Hospitality is a word that has, I believe, emotional baggage attached to it. It doesn’t link to the same conversation about career progression exactly gives. Hospitality is seen as the people who will take care of the tables in the restaurants. And so it’s not an aspiring sector in the way in which it’s currently spoken. When you talk about travel and tourism and service economy, then it brings gravitas into it. So for young people coming into our sector, when it’s seen as purely hospitality there’s a default thought of it’s people who serve in hotels. It’s so much more than that. So we need to be able to get the understanding of exactly what is inside the hospitality and how can that become an incredibly exciting career for young people who want to see the world and have fantastic jobs in the first place.
Working in hospitality, like any other business there will be a lot of change to face throughout a career. However, as Olivier Harnisch of The Rezidor Hotel Group discusses in this TV, some skills will be valuable for life.
Careers advice for working in hospitality
I started not so long ago, 25 years ago in the industry as a Cormier du restaurant in France. And it is just amazing how much hotels have changed. You know when I started in the mid-80s which is almost 30 years ago, when I started in the mid-80s we were still working with physical keys and you know, racks behind the front desk. And look at hotels now. But the fundamentals haven’t changed, it’s a peoples’ business and this will remain a peoples’ business forever. But you know, and the qualities that are required to be successful in the hotel business, I think they have not changed neither, flexibility, enthusiasm for the industry, openness of mind, that remains, and I would recommend to every young person entering the industry or being in the industry to keep those qualities, because they are really important factors in having a successful career in the sector.
The Hospitality Channel will continue to bring you fantastic shows with advice and experience about working in hospitality.
Workplace culture: Implementing corporate responsibility in a real way
Workplace culture is important. It will affect who wants to work with you and how committed they are to their job. Wolfgang Weinz of International Labour Organization shares his thoughts on corporate responsibility.
Workplace culture and employer responsibility
My major point on corporate social responsibility is that our big hotel chains have a nice website taking care of people, you see it’s our policy. What we found out is that these hotels have problems to implement their policy down to the workforce through the whole chain. That is a major problem. Means again, you need social dialogue within these hotel chains to understand what is necessary to make CSR as a PR activity into real life. And it’s only getting to real life when it comes down to the workforce in our opinion, means changing working conditions, improving working conditions. My second point is the industry feels a need to do this because the industry is complaining about shortage of skilled workforce, about high turnover. Always when I ask managers, “Why is there a high turnover?” They tell me, “Well, we are not attractive enough.” Then I ask, “Why are you not attractive enough?” Well, it has to do with the working conditions. So improve the working conditions. And that is where we have our expertise where we’d like to help and we would like to assist on improving this situation.
The Hospitality Channel has more fantastic videos on workplace culture and recruitment.
The tourism industry will respond to the needs of the consumer. In this TV show Ingo Schweder of Horwath HTL discusses the increase in interest around health and wellbeing.
Cultural trends affecting the tourism industry
There’s huge demographic shifts happening in the health and wellness of everybody, of every nation. And as you can see at the recent Diverse meeting, a half day was dedicated to the subject of health and wellness which is unheard of. There were 26 different sessions in Diverse dedicated to the health and wellness of the population of the respective people. And that has to do from a macroeconomic standpoint about collecting taxes and having a nation which is healthy. And it has from a more personal level people have more and more disposable income and they want to spend their free time and their money in facilities and in environments where they choose lifestyle extending, rejuvenating, reactivating detoxing environments.
The Hospitality Channel has more great videos on health and wellness in the tourism industry and similar subjects.
New generation workforce will find their own way to make a difference
The new generation workforce is not following the traditional career paths, as Stephan Balzer of Red Onion gmbH discusses in this TV show.
New generation workforce value improvement
This new generation really wants to contribute. They want to contribute and they want to be a part of changing the world, if you paint a bigger picture, to make the world a better place, it’s really interesting. Look, it sounds a bit idealistic but at the same time they are really very down to earth, they’re well educated and they really want to contribute and do something. What we see in the market is that it’s a lot of human resources offices and, you know, and divisions have a hard time to attract, you know, all this community to join and work in the old way, in, you know, in their very hierarchic systems, you know, where it takes a lot of time to improve where, you know, there’s little freedom. But you know you have to actually work on the stuff that your boss is telling you etc, etc. I think if you as a brand want to really leverage the potential of that generation you have to probably rethink the way you work as well, you know. We have to be more flexible, more open, less thinking in hierarchies. They’d rather earn less and start their own company or they join a start-up company that is fastly growing than going to, you know, an old company. So it’s fascinating but really challenging.
Keep browsing The Hospitality Channel for more great TV shows on the new generation workforce and related issues.
Industry development is optimistic for the next year. In this TV show Anton Bawab explains that Middle East has a growing affluent market and room for new products.
Industry development is no great challenge in the Middle East
The Middle East has been full or has been occupied by the traditional hotel operators and then you’ve got the luxury hotel operators on the other end of the spectrum. And our positioning – our unique positioning is still right for taking. And one of the advantages of the Viceroy Hotel Group, or Viceroy Hotels and Resorts, our properties, is that there aren’t many hotels or operators offering the same product that we have. So it’s a green field for us wherever we go. Everybody is very optimistic that 2014 is going to be a significant shift from what 2013 promised to be. We have put in significant investment in growing our capabilities in the region providing expertise in the market for the market. So we’ve got a fully capable corporate office out of Abu Dhabi serving the Middle East. And that will propel our growth and support our new projects coming out of the region there. I wouldn’t say it’s a challenging place to do business. I think it’s a challenging place to do business for those that have not been to the Middle East. But once you get there and you understand the culture and you’ve spent some time there and met and found new partners, I wouldn’t think it’s more challenging than some parts of Europe, Latin America or Asia. It’s just got its own nuances, it’s got its own differentiators. And you’ve got to know the way business is done or who to partner with, who not to partner with and what things to look out for when striking partnerships. But otherwise there’s nothing there’s no secret about doing business in there. It’s a growing market, affluent market, 40% of the population is below the age of 20, highly mobile, speaks multiple languages and is keen and eager to have new experiences, travel, spend on luxuries. And the Middle East is a big turn on, we’ve got the GCC, that’s vastly different from the rest of the Levant area.
If you are interested in the Middle East and industry development, please browse more videos on The Hospitality Channel.
The digital age has lead to may changes in customer behaviour. In this TV show Steve Lowey discusses data collection becoming an accepted part of life.
Digital age's 'Big Brother' isn't so scary
But what’s kind of exciting is with technology it’s going to get easier for even the small guys to offer great little touches of excellence to their customers and ultimately start using their data to improve your customers experience. And I think there’s a lot of scary stuff in terms of Google’s knowledge of what we are doing and tracking you and following you online and offline basically. But that can be used to an advantage and I think people of the sort of the Big Brother thing they know it’s there now and they just sort of, just carry on doing stuff.
If you found this video interesting and want to hear more about the digital age and data collection, please browse more videos on The Hospitality Channel.
Hospitality industry still underrepresents women at the top
The hospitality industry is made up of a more diverse workforce than it was 10 years ago, but there is still work to be done, as Kathleen Matthews suggests in this TV show.
Women in the hospitality industry
I came into the hotel industry from TV news in Washington DC and you would not think about having a news team without a woman and diversity on that news desk, and that trend had been around since the 1970s, when I got into the business. I was so surprised when I came to some of my first Marriott conferences and all I saw on stage getting the honours, or on the panels, were white men. Now, they may be from Europe and they may be from the US, but you did not see diversity from emerging markets, and you saw very few women. In the 7 years I’ve been in the business it’s gotten better, and companies like Marriott have really made a very focused effort to try and elevate women into our top ranks. We were always more than 50 percent female as a business, but disproportionately at the bottom of the pyramid. And so in our company now, our President of Europe is a woman, one of four continental presidents. She reports to the CEO. Our Chief Marketing Brand and Commercial Officer is a woman. She is a corporate officer and she reports to the CEO, I report to the CEO. So out of 12 direct reports to the CEO we have 3 women. It’s a lot better than it was but it still needs to improve, and we know that at Marriott. And I hope that other companies have that same commitment because diversity of any kind, and it doesn’t just have to be gender, but diversity actually I think creates a richer thought process. It stimulates innovation, and look at our customer base, how many women are travelling on the road, so having women in decision making positions in all parts of the industry I think is critical because again, it’s insights that help you as a company provide a much more rewarding experience for people that are enjoying your properties.
Take a look through the Hospitality 250 to hear from more female influencers in the hospitality industry.
Localisation of hotel brands means adapting to the marketplace but, as Rui Barros says in this TV show, the product shouldn't stray too far from the original model.
Localisation of hotel brands
I think in any market that we go into globally we have to evaluate what the needs of that market are. The challenge that we have is to make sure that we don't compromise the essence of the brand. And you know, and most of our competitors will say the same thing, it's just you can't have a cookie cutter approach as relates to brand specifications and things of that nature, you sort of have to tweak those depending on what the needs are. So it could be for example, that the room sizes need to be larger in certain markets by virtue of the type of clientele that you're going to be attracting and accommodating. So no, we will tweak, what we don't want to compromise is, you know, there should be a sense of arrival that, you know, if you're at a Ramada in North America and when you arrive at a Ramada in Dubai or perhaps even Tanzania, you're going to sense that you're in a Ramada. There's going to be things that will speak to the branding. And part of that actually comes to life with the people that are there. So actually creating a brand culture that you're going to immerse the staff into, so you will naturally see the connection between the consumers and the hotel and that brand, that just will come to life. But no, it won't be cookie cutter. It will be, there'll be a flexible model there to make sure that we're meeting not only our owners’ needs but also protecting the integrity of the brand.
If you enjoyed this video about localisation and brand integrity, why not watch more TV shows on The Hospitality Channel?
Industry development depends on brand collaboration
Industry development in Africa means that international brands are arriving. In this TV show Michael Devereux of Starwood Hotels & Resorts suggests that international and local brands need to work together.
Industry development and deal-making
I think everybody plays the development side and the deal side of the industry, they play it very close to their chests quite naturally. You know, you don’t announce a deal until a deal is done. There’s always, word of mouth. It’s quite a small industry in fact. Word gets out that this company is looking at this property or this type of deal, which is natural. But I think we all play things close to our chest. We’re all playing in the same market, the international brands specifically. The local brands play a very important part of the industry. And the international brands must never underestimate the power of the local brands because the local brands have local support. Local support is what keeps your business flowing in the lower seasons, so they’re very important players. We need to possibly collaborate more with local industry players and support them more and possibly in those efforts they would support the international brands more in terms of information sharing and those aspects in order to make it easier to get entry into these countries. International brands are coming to Africa no matter whether you like it or not. It’s the ease of access into those countries.
If you found this video about industry development interesting, why not watch more TV shows on The Hospitality Channel?
Brand reputation is difficult to control with the rise of social media and review websites. In this video Satyan Joshi, Travel, Google says it is important to give customers a reason to trust your brand.
Brand reputation in hospitality
Users are putting their faith in a brand to a certain extent. The last couple of years especially you look at things like the Arab Spring, which led to lots of people stranded potentially. Users want to stick with the brand they know and they trust. Similarly, those brands themselves know that these users are instantaneously reviewing and uploading pictures. You need to follow through and actually deliver on what you promise, whether it is a valid review and faithful product which is delivering what it says it will.
If you found this video about brand reputation interesting why not watch more TV shows on The Hospitality Channel?
Mohammad Khalfan Al Dhaheri discusses Destination travel resorts in Abu Dhabi.
Destination travel: Unpacking the appeal
We’re creating destinations in the destination.
So we have a very unique destination, such as Yas Island, which is very sports and adventure-oriented, you know, more leisure.
We have a destination called Saadiyat Island, which is focusing on culture, especially it is going to house three permanent museums – Zayed Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and The Guggenheim Museum.
The way we see it, that the number of hotel guests and visitors inshallah is growing, so at 2015 we’re looking at 3.2 million hotel guests to be staying in Abu Dhabi.
If you found this video about destination travel interesting why not watch more on The Hospitality Channel?
Abu Dhabi has a Tourism & Culture authority who help develop the sector. Mohammad Khalfan Al Dhaheri explains what they do.
Abu Dhabi: from ‘dull and soulless’ to top 10 destination
Well I come from Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. We are the government authority that is leading the development of the tourism and cultural sector in Emirates Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates.
Okay, I can tell it to you qualitatively and quantitatively. The Lonely Planet described Abu Dhabi 2004 as a dull, boring soulless place. In 2009 they recommended us as one of the top ten destinations to visit in the world. And that should tell you how much effort it took between this time and that time to actually change that perception. In 2004 we started with 6,000 rooms, today we have 22,000 rooms. That tells you how much opportunity creating a government entity actually has provided for the private sector.
We have done extensive work in terms of actually facilitating the regulations of opening businesses in the tourism sector, that’s one of our key focus areas. In addition we actually maintained developing quality standards for the sector, such as the hotel establishment classification system, that gave the sector confidence that we actually differentiate between a business and a business and we allow that competitive businesses to be acknowledged and recognised.
If you found this video about Abu Dhabi interesting why not watch more TV shows on The Hospitality Channel?
Sustainable design is something that Wimberly Interiors offers every client as Margaret McMahon discusses here.
Sustainable design is base line
What we try to do is bring it to every client possible.
There are some clients that aren’t necessarily interested in it but what we try to do it very base line from lighting to controls.
We try to insert sustainability into it. I find that it seems to be our younger clients that are so passionate about it which is great because they’re really our future. So it’s extremely important to us.
If you enjoyed this video about sustainable design why not watch more TV shows on The Hospitality Channel?
Martin Craigs: “Like all marketing exercises, you have to share empathy. There’s some great brands around this very well attended conference and exhibition. And of course ITB is the grandfather of all travel events. So compliments to Berlin and everyone who’s made it what it is, through adversity, let’s remember that. So anyone who has an enterprise culture can get on well in Asia. And places like Singapore and Hong Kong are very multicultural places. I’ve spent a long time. They welcome people who are imaginative and hardworking. People who do not have an entitlement culture, they have an enterprise culture, that’s the difference. Complexity in terms of obviously language, regulations are different across the region. But that is improving because there is going to be Asian economic integration at the end of 2015, which mean people will be able to cross borders amongst those 10 Asian countries. And therefore their qualifications will be recognised across borders. So that’s, if you like, the positive step that the EU has experienced without enmeshing it in a common currency and the negative sides that we have been sadly having to watch day by day in the news media.”
Puneet Chhatwal: "Innovation has to be driven along margin expansion and return on investment. Now, whether you drive that innovation through customer experience, whether you drive that innovation by your ability to charge a premium for delivering that experience or whether you’re able to increase the margin by creating more efficiencies. So I think it’s about always consistently improving upon our competitive advantage. And as I said our competitive advantage lies in our ability to provide German management which is solid and fundamental to our business."
Martin Craigs: "Human beings like meeting in three dimensions. Fine, we’re all fans of iPads and android devices and those cold dark screens. What worries me is the next generation, which I thought was aptly described by Tyler Brule this weekend as the F generation, the flat-lining generation, the ones that think everything’s monosyllabic, and on a cold dark screen. They need to get out more, smell the roses, meet people in three dimension because that’s what the travel and tourism is. You know, the best two weeks of nearly everyone's life is the two weeks they come and visit our industry, when they’re having the holiday that they’ve worked all year for. Why on earth do governments want to tax and harass that pleasure and mistake it for something like the negative effects of tobacco and alcohol, because in the minds of European politicians, we’re in that pigeonhole, alcohol, tobacco, tourism. It deserves to be taxed and harassed, it’s a pleasure. Well sorry guys, we’re not all living in some century old protestant work ethic mind set that everyone has to be driven to only work and taxed if they have any pleasure, that’s what one of PATA’s main points."
Patrick Sanville: "First of all, I would overhaul completely the fiscal … all our fiscal schemes which are far too complicated to read and with, you know, different layers adding up each year, nobody is understanding it really as a clear picture. That probably would be the first thing that I would do. And I would also, you know, eliminate all the barriers for new construction due to visa, and that’s part of what I just mentioned, the fiscal system, which has to be overhauled."
Peter O'Connor: 'The whole area of online distribution for hotels is one that is constantly evolving and it’s really confusing. And there are few hotel companies that really get it at the moment. Many peoples’ knowledge is probably two to three years out of date. So for example on the panel this morning the representative from Expedia was getting a really hard time. Now, Expedia 10 years ago was probably a naughty company, they were probably doing some things that weren’t good for hotels. But that’s evolved. And I found it amazing that the audience hasn’t actually evolved in their perception of the company. But OTAs, online travel agents, they’re partners. If you work with them they can deliver a business to you, it’s expensive but they’re providing a service, they’re putting heads in beds. So as a result they deserve to be rewarded. The key challenge we have for hotels working with OTAs is they don’t work with OTAs, they begrudgingly give them rooms and moan about the fact that they have to pay so much afterwards. But most hotels are running at 60% occupancy, maybe 65, that means one-third of their rooms are sitting idle every night. I’m a businessman, at the end of the day I would prefer to sell those rooms at 75% or 55% or even 50% rather than not sell them at all. And yes, you can talk about the damage to your brand, you can talk about so many different problems, but at the end of the day we have to make money. The other area that was quite interesting today as well is we were talking about developing business models, so one of the models that’s developing most rapidly at the moment is the whole area of flash sales. And today we were lucky, we had a representative from Groupon on the panel and again this is a model that’s misunderstood by many hoteliers. They see a large cost without seeing the benefits that Groupon can bring in terms of reach, in terms of targeting. They all say, “Oh, it’s easy, we could do this for ourselves.” But actually in reality if they try to do it for themselves it would be much more expensive."
Peter O'Connor: "Right now social networks, you look at the statistics in the UK, almost a quarter of internet users time is spent interacting with other people on social networks right now. Hotels are very personal, there is a brand image issue, there is a connection with the customer if they do it right. If they were to leverage social networks effectively they could actually start to talk and interact and engage with the customer. Right now the majority of hotel chains are using social networks as an advertising media. And unfortunately when you try to sell to people over social networks it just doesn’t work. It’s a little bit like a very, very pushy car salesman coming to you at the bar when you’re having a drink with some friends and you’re trying to relax and all of a sudden you’ve got a guy in there trying to sell you a used car, it just doesn’t work. It’s like an awful lot of developments that we’ve had in the electronic distribution arena, the hotel industry just doesn’t understand it, it doesn’t give it enough resources and by the time they figure it out the consumers will have moved on to something else.”
Peter O'Connor: "We have sites like TripAdvisor where reviews are being posted of our properties, good and bad. We have on the online travel agencies, reviews that are being posted as well, very few hotels are taking that opportunity to actually go in, see what consumers are saying about them and react. If they’ve had a bad experience, trying to do some service recovery, if they’ve had a good experience thanking the customer for actually talking about it and reinforcing the good message. If we look in other industries this is very, very common practice, in the hotel industry we’re aware of the issue but we don’t give it the resources and we don’t give it the priority that it needs. Now, one thing I’ll add there is in order to do this you can’t do this on an amateur level, you have to be highly professional about it. In order to do that you need tools and there are a large number of online reputation management tools out there which take those reviews, they amalgamate them together, they amalgamate what people are saying about you on Twitter, on blogs and on lots of different social media channels and they present them in a very, very concentrated format and give you the ability to respond in a consistent way."
Jalil Mekouar: "Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, are countries that would very much welcome capital coming from the northern part of the Americas and the rest of the world, for that matter. And it’s a matter of facilitating that capital flow and helping people understand the different markets. You know you don’t, obviously you don’t deal the same way if you deal with an Argentinean investor or developer as if you were dealing with a New York based developer. It’s very, very cultural. It’s very much understanding the business practices and at the same time bringing the transparency and professionalism that they are looking for but by mitigating the risks. So we are hoping that having a very strong global network that we’ll be able to bring that to the investment community.”
Jalil Mekouar: "There are dynamics there that do not offer any other choice but to go in the right direction. You can’t indefinitely, you know, just go against the law of gravity almost I should say. I think at one point, governments will understand and the people will understand, hopefully with the help of neighbours that are stabilising around. Looking at North Africa for example and the Arab Springs., I think it was just about time that things changed. It will take time to stabilise but it’s definitely for the better because for ... on the long-term then the people will decide what to do with their lives and with their societies and their communities. And I think that’s where Africa is heading. I cannot imagine and I don’t believe anyone could imagine that a billion people in a continent are going to continue kind of killing each other and all that, it will have to stabilise and the people will find their own ... maybe it’s me being a bit positive or optimistic but I don’t believe, I believe in the power of people to find their own, their own ways. And I think with the pressure and the support of neighbouring countries, and the capital that needs to find a safe place, they will find a way through that. We can see it already happening.”
Steve Pateman: "Sky have a great way of communicating with me about films. They know I like films. They know I like sports. So they connect with me in the areas of sport and films. They sort of create a sort of connection with me in my own time and my own space. They’re not forcing me to do something at a time that suits them. They’re giving it to me at a time that I can choose, and it’s information I’m interested in. And that’s why I go away and read it and then kind of watch the films and so on and so forth. And within Santander we’re going to try to do the same, to use the data we have about people to connect with them in their time at their convenience in a way that’s useful to them. So for example if we provided a mortgage for someone then actually we should be able to provide their house insurance without having to ask them how many bedrooms it’s got and who’s living there, because on the basis we’ve provided the mortgage we should actually know whose living there and how many bedrooms it’s got. But we don’t, we ask them the same information again. And I think that’s a way of turning a customer off and actually not using the data you have intelligently. So I think you can use a huge amount from some of the new guys, some of the retailers I see and I’ve talked about, you can learn a huge amount from somebody like Sky, who are much more innovative in that space. And you can use the data that you have on customers to find a way to connect with them that’s relevant to your business."
Steve Pateman: "When I was growing up in banking and that’s been many years, I was a relationship manager who looked after hotel businesses and retail businesses and leisure businesses. So it’s a sector that I have a lot of affection for because I’ve kind of grown up working for other people in it. I’ve seen a huge amount of change in the last 20 or 30 years as I’ve worked in that sector. I think for the leisure industry, a little like all industries, you know, everything changes, the consumers’ demands and expectations change. And it’s the same in the leisure industry. I think all businesses these days are much more focused on meeting customers’ needs, understanding customers’ needs and building a proposition that encourages people to come back and shop with you and buy with you again. It’s exactly the same in banking as I would imagine it’s in restaurants and hotels. You’ve got to be much more in touch with the customer experience because the customer has choice. And the customer will want to eat and go to places that they feel an empathy with and they feel a trust in and a warmth in. And it’s the same for banking, it’s same for retail. And it’s definitely the same for leisure. So I think the challenges for businesses are to build a proposition that will bring their customers in and will keep their customers and to be very, very clear about creating the best possible customer experience because that’s probably what will make the difference. You could have a fantastic hotel room that looks great, but if the service is poor they won’t come back.”
Robin Rowland: "We absolutely love social media, we’re probably one of the early adopters, we’ve got about 3,500 people now on our email database, which is the old news, we’ve got over 100,000 people on Facebook, about 25,000 on Twitter and you have to remember we’re still quite a small business. But what’s interesting to me is the two bits of feedback that I get, are about 50,000 people go online and give us feedback on their meal experience, so that’s always helpful. But as helpful, we have over 1,000 of our team members on Facebook and they’re chattering away to each other. So, we and the whole company is kind of run with the mindset of a 20 year old and we’re listening and we’re learning and we’re actually trying to be a little bit experimental in terms of how we communicate with both our guests and our team members. We love social media and it works incredibly well for us."
Robin Rowland: "I’ve worked for very large organisations, I’ve had fantastic mentors and one thing I have learnt is that you you really haven’t got a monopoly in all all the ideas. We’ve, you know, we’ve done very well but I think it’s important that you’re honest with people and both your employees and your investors and the bankers need to understand this is a very sensitive business and the minute you take your eye off the ball or you take people for granted, particularly customers or your team, you’ll probably get a right kicking and I’m reminded by that and that’s what keeps me fairly humble. But on the other hand, you know, we’ve been successful, and we as a company have always been very open and shared lots of our ideas with other people as well, I just don’t see much point in not, there’s plenty of the cake to go around."
Chief Edem Duke: "There are perception issues. And that is because we as Nigeria are not telling our stories. We’re not promoting our market aggressively enough. And so people pick up on a few negative news. And the interesting thing on the flip-side of the coin is that those who go into Nigeria make huge profits, they never tell anybody about it, because they want to keep out the competition. That is why you have the hydrocarbon explorers who have been there for over 75 years. You have the airlines who have been there for almost 100 years. And you have the telecoms companies that, wherever they originated from and they were about to go out of business, the moment they step into the Nigerian market and they become global leaders. So there is need for us to manage the reputation of our country. There is need for us to engage with international media. It is also important for us to engage with the sector, the investors, so that together we can move the industry forward. The opportunities are enormous, the potentials are unbelievable, and I think the time is now."
Peter Henley: "We’ve increased the number of people in Head Office, because we didn’t have a Development department, which you need to grow. We didn’t have HR department and we didn’t have the right operational structure. We’ve put all those people in place. And it’s tough to get people to, we wanted to try and our philosophy was to try and recruit people whether they be at hotels or corporate level, 'show us your medals' was the strategy we had. We want people who’ve been there and done that in another organisation and did it well. We weren’t proud of the fact that we needed this expertise. So to go out and sell, oh come and work for a little Thai based company, to people who are in the large chains is a difficult sell, but we’ve managed to attract people from Ritz Carlton, from Hilton, from Shangri-La ah, from... from Holiday Inn. Who are all excellent companies who’ve done these things well and we’ve brought those people with their expertise into our organisation to try and infuse that experience with the very good basic qualities that we had in the organisation and have had for thirty odd years. And so that’s pretty much been achieved now. At the hotel level, as we bring on new hotels, we’re trying again to bring in new people with this culture and experience which enables us to have the, build the right culture in the organisation and thereby achieve our aim. It’s really really at the centre of what we’re trying to do. I mean our our management trainee programme is all about that."
Peter Henley: "In order to achieve this leading Asian hospitality ah provider goal, we need to get five things right. One was, we have to have the right brands for the right segment. One is the right network and we’ve gotta grow and have the right network around the place. The right operational standards of excellence. We said okay there are certain things that you’ve gotta have in order to be a regional provide, whether it be the right technology or the right ah CRM or the right loyalty programmes , we’re putting those in place. But...and the right support was the fourth one, which is from a Board structure internally. But the right culture, the right people. Absolutely essential and ah so we’ve, we’ve done that by a, a number of ways. We’ve put in place a very substantial ah HR department and the, the owners of the company have supported this expense, if you like, before the revenue comes in. Because, we said we had to get eleven different initiatives right. We had no training strategy, we had no...strategy, we had no succession planning strategy, and these are all really important to get the right people in place. We had no management trainee programme in place as it were, and you’ve gotta start bringing in employees at the beginning and raise them to the end. And we fundamentally believe that, as one of my old Chief Executives used to say, it’s the people that make the difference and it’s really a philosophy to keep on trying to burn into the company. We wanna be more collegial...we wanna be more collective in our decision making process but we wanna make sure that the people who who operate in our business, whether they be in the hotels or the regional offices, are focussed upon the fact that it’s the people that make the difference."
Miguel Ruano: "It’s a typical scenario which projects get built on, on a dram. Sometimes it’s an ego dream that I’m gonna have the best hotel in the region. I just went over to Brazil a few months ago and somebody wanted the best, to have the best hotel in Brazil. And I said, well why not, somebody must, will have, the best hotel in Brazil. The question is, can you have the best hotel in Brazil? Does the best hotel in Brazil make sense in this location in particular or should the best hotel in Brazil in a location that supports that positioning? Because somebody will have the best hotel in Brazil, undoubtedly. And the best hotel in London and the best hotel in Spain. Somebody will have it."
At the time of filming, Miguel Ruano was Lead Associate at The Hotel Solutions Partnership Ltd.
Robert Cook: "The big boys are terrified of restaurants. I think we do restaurants well. We turn over nearly 50% of our total business is bar, bar and restaurant. And it’s nearly 60 in Hotel du Vin. And it’s almost a bed, it’s almost a restaurant with rooms. And I think that’s form a point of view of getting care and passion into business, because there’s so much flair and passion required in the artistry of providing food and beverage, that rubs off on all the whole, on all the staff and gives a hotel that edge. That is, is it’s as important to serve a great gin and tonic as it is to welcome and room a guest. And I think that’s why we’ve got that nice golden thread that runs through the whole business. Because we’re a restaurant business, where the real passion lies. We call it the heart and soul of the hotel."
At the time of filming, Robert Cook was CEO at Hotel du Vin and Malmaison.
According to Laurence Geller, CEO of Geller Investment Company, the key to great hospitality careers is to display boldness and passion at all times. Too many people want brilliant hospitality careers but display little enthusiasm.
Laurence Geller on hospitality careers: "I would say that a very good example is Gerard Greene at Yotel. Gerard, I’ve known him since he was a kiddie. And what he did was he came … and this is so, this is what I would say, if you have a belief, and I always had my own beliefs, you stick to it, don’t let somebody tell you that’s not what happens. Yotel shouldn’t have existed, my hotel shouldn’t have existed. What I’ve done with the businesses shouldn’t have exited, if I’d have listened to everybody else they wouldn’t have. If you’re right, be bold, be passionate, be honest and don’t give in, be very persistent. I’m a Churchillian, he never gave in, I won’t and these kids shouldn’t and they won’t, because they’re going to change our world, and I just want to watch it and have a little piece of it."
Richard Candey: "For a company, in fact, not even for a company of our size, but for individuals of a certain age, you need to embrace that level of differentiation between how we used to work and how youngsters today feel more comfortable in working. We don’t have a set policy in terms of how we deal with that. My feeling is, it’s always been the case though, we operate fairly flat structures and allow people with real ambition, and real goals to drive and strive to achieve those. They do that in a different way than we did 20 years ago, but that’s evolution in the workplace."
Surinder Arora reveals his philosophy on business and staff
Surinder Arora: "I always said that you can build buildings with gold bricks, but if haven’t got the right people running them, you haven’t got a successful business. And also make sure that you look after your customers. I’ve always said that, treat your staff like family, and treat your guests like royalty, and then you have a successful model. I used to referee football, people used to say “Well, there’s 17 laws, but there’s always Law 18 which is common sense.” And of course you want people that can communicate, they can be smart, but people that can also be out there with that common sense, and the hunger to play big part of the family, to looking after the guests like royalty. And work in a team."
Michael Levie: "We qualify people on their degree of smiling. And their degree of friendliness, and we hire on that. And as we travel the world, we’re interested to find people that basically are cultured, have something interesting to add to our lives as we’re those nomads that travel the world. And that is done with a friendly smile and warmth, and it’s not done with “Did you have a nice trip, sir?” So a friendly, “Hi” but a genuine “Hi” goes a lot further, we believe, and is perceived as luxury today. So we screen and hire people on their degree of friendliness and smiling capacity. And we teach them how to make a barista made cup of coffee, how our systems work, how to shake a cocktail, but I cannot teach somebody to be nice."
"I think we are all are looking for luxury, but luxury in the past was maybe a crystal chandelier and white gloves service. Today it is more in the hybrid environment, when you flip open your laptop that you have an internet connection. Historically we would be categorised by gender or by income or by origin or by, well, whatever. Today we travel in jeans, we have on the cheap t-shirt. We have a designer watch, we sip champagne, and then we take the bus home. And we do that both for leisure and for business. What we feel is that today, people gravitate to a lifestyle. And you wanna belong to a certain lifestyle. So with the day and age of Apple iPhones and computers. We take a strip of sushi. We would like to have fashion and architecture, and err beautiful objects around us. And that provides us an environment that we’re comfortable in, or that we aspire to. And that’s what we try to provide uh at citizenM."
Mark Wynne Smith: "Certainly 2009 is not a year that I would like to re-experience at all. I think it’s, again, from a personal perspective, I never read the newspapers because it makes me very much happier not to do that. I think it’s … again, have you looked at the US for their common experience where … okay, there’s a lot on the table to sort but there is a can do attitude. Far easier if you’re one nation with 350 million people, you can get behind something there. I think one of the frustrations that I always feel around Europe is the fact that we just talk ourselves down and we can’t actually get up and get going. So if you put that through into, you know, how is the prices showing itself in the hotel industry. Yes, 2009 beginning 2010 everything fell apart, normal patterns in terms of travel have returned, there is now an understanding of what level of daily demand is coming through the system. It is fairly consistent. So I think we’ve got to a point now where we can plan for the future. But instead of having a wonderful hockey stick recovery it’s going to go in a straight line for a couple of years. Again you can run your business around that. So I don’t have any concerns now about the sort of the impact of the events that we were all so fearful of in September. And clearly of course demand shocks can happen, one-offs, but the I think we’ve built up a sort of momentum now that will see us through a lot more trouble than we were able to do. Again, passage of time is a great healer of these things."
Mark Wynne Smith: "Simple word here, passion. I think whatever brand, whatever physical product you’ve got the management team in that hotel have to be passionate about their business. And you can feel it so frequently, again having the good fortune to walk into a lot of places and how to perform a professional view on that, that you can tell how motivated the management team are. And this ripples the whole way through to the guy who does the maintenance, the salesperson. And I know that the one of the difficulties with the business at the moment is that the brands are getting very similar in terms of the product that you’re being offered. So you can walk into a hotel and you can’t feel like you used to be able to, whether you were in a Marriott or a Hilton. It’s all getting blurred. So in fact the whole service and the whole experience and the whole welcome becomes far more of a differentiating factor. And that’s very hard to price that into a business, but in terms of actually generating repeat and clearly winning sales for conferences etc, I think that’s one of the elements that’s often overlooked by the bigger groups."
James Berresford: "There are instances of just fantastic customer service and actually many of the hotels, many of the restaurants, many of the attractions have really woken up to the fact that you just shouldn’t be in this industry unless you’re delivering top drawer customer care. I do think, though, the broader customer welcome in this country, perhaps in ancillary services like petrol stations or shops and so on and so forth … I’m not saying it’s bad but it’s not always focused on the visitor and I think that’s something we’ve got to get it right. We’re not quite there yet but I’m not going to run down what we do because, you know, we are quintessentially English and we get that across. When people don’t expect us to be “Have a nice day” and etc etc, what we are is what we are and we must preserve that character and be genuine in our customer care and we do that very well, so I’m not going to run it down. But there are instances of where we do let ourselves down."
James Berresford: "The English experience is unique, that’s often said, any country says its experience is unique. But we have a patchwork of wonderful offers, we have a tapestry of wonderful offers, all fairly close at hand, so you can be enjoying a contemporary city, you can be enjoying beautiful countryside, you can be enjoying heritage, history, great entertainment, theatre, wonderful theme parks and they’re all very close at hand actually, and they’re well-developed and well-established. Now, actually, we could probably claim to be at the start of tourism in this country. I’m pretty sure we could. I claim everything else for this country so I’m pretty sure we have and we’ve just got it embedded in us. We do great experiences. So, that sets us apart and we do it in a very English way and that sets us apart. I’d hate to think that England became any town any place in the world. We’ve got to hold on to our distinctiveness."