Building ‘lifestyle’ and ‘experience’ hotels: the inspiration factor

Building ‘lifestyle’ and ‘experience’ hotels: the inspiration factor

The building blocks to create hotels that offer more than a commodity experience are culture, identity and repositioning. Let’s begin this conversation with the first step in creating amazing cultures: the inspired workplace.

Everyone wants motivated and inspired people in their organization. Do these people just come this way? Is it all in the hiring? What is leadership’s accountability to bring out the best in their teams?

One of my favorite words bandied about in our industry is “empowerment.” I think the word actually strikes fear into leadership. They want it … but, not really. Managers want to satisfy their guests but are suspect about the people who are on the front lines who are charged with doing so: “Watch them and give them parameters. They could give the house away.” In so many hotels, management carries so much fear around the word empowerment, and I think the associates feel it. The “vibe” that exists begins with leadership. 

If you have to “give power” to someone, there is no power.  What you have there, friends, is a guideline.

We all know that hotels have a ridiculous amount of moving parts, and the bigger the hotel, the more we sense we need to take control. So, what’s the alternative? I’d like you to consider creating a culture that drives the behaviors, activities and values of really inspired people. When you have someone who is so completely inspired by your culture and committed to your desired results, they can only act in the best interests of all constituents ? win-win has got to be the goal of every game worth playing.  

Speaking of inspired associates, sometimes we make such a great hire, they are inspired in spite of us. One morning, I recall a guest asking where the fitness room was and once directed, let out a sigh saying she would much rather be having a Starbucks. Within 10 minutes, the personal host (in a “reinvented” hotel, we prefer to name positions based upon the role they play instead of giving titles based upon the furniture they stand next to ? e.g., “front desk agent”) went out to Starbucks and with his own money purchased a coffee and brought it to the guest already on the treadmill. If that kind of inspiration was rampant at your hotel (or workplace), what might the ROI be? Forget loyalty. We are in the big leagues now ? happiness.

An inspired workplace: What might that look like? Again, it begins with leadership, and we will leave that ? my favorite topic ? for another day. But let’s just look at a little tangible evidence of how inspired your workplace is:
  • Meetings: Are they full of participation? Can you feel “aliveness” around the room, or is the meeting just a placeholder until the team can look at their blackberries?
  • Agendas: Are they primarily about future possibilities or repeating statistics about the past?
  • Reviews: “Performance review” sounds like what we do with a circus animal. What about talking about the gifts associates contribute, areas in their lives they’d like to improve and how that would affect the health of the organization? 
  • Daily stand-ups: If you were to rate recognition at your hotel (we all want to feel important) how would you rate on the 1-10 scale? What would the culture look like if you emphasized telling stories of associates being great on a daily basis instead of repeating the same “values” over and over again without referring to actual stories of valor in the workplace?
I would love a response from those of you that do have inspired workplaces. What are you doing and who you are being to cause that?