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Eyes on the real prize at Verified

I had the fortunate opportunity last week to attend Forbes Travel Guide’s Verified event, a luxury summit at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Forbes held galas to celebrate the winners of its 5-star, 4-star and Recommended awards, and the irrepressible Forbes Travel leader Jerry Inzerillo led conversations about service excellence and the future of Forbes Travel and its ability to become a bigger part of the guest decision-making process.

Somewhere between 600 and 700 of the world’s great and most decorated hoteliers were in attendance, and that is what made the event for me – the ability to chat about the art of hotelkeeping with the likes of Horst Schulze, the Halekulani’s Ulrich Krauer, Jeremy Goring from the family’s namesake hotel in London, and on and on. It was an opportunity to hear about their victories and challenges, and what they need to read to become even more successful.

From left at Forbes awards: Ali Kasikci, Ed Mady, Offer Nissenbaum, Jerry Inzerillo, Mohamed AlRafi, Horst Schulze, Jeff Weinstein
From left at Forbes awards: Ali Kasikci, Ed Mady, Offer Nissenbaum, Jerry Inzerillo, Mohamed AlRafi, Horst Schulze, Jeff Weinstein

What struck me about the two-day affair was not so much the awards program and Forbes ongoing effort to remain relevant and top of mind with consumers in a world that is all too often swayed by social media influencers and questionable TripAdvisor reviews, but the beauty of bringing together great innkeepers to talk about service, how best to incorporate technology without forgetting about intangibles, and simply the coming together of great professionals who share a common vision.

This is a beautiful business that provides the most basic of human needs – shelter and sustenance. Sometimes I feel we are all too busy to recognize the service provided, often seamlessly, and how satisfying guests’ needs is such a noble undertaking.

As I sat in the awards gala last Tuesday night watching the affirming ceremony, seeing the Champagne flow and the camaraderie overflow I felt a certain satisfaction. If even for a few hours, everyone escaped Airbnb, disruption and data. The industry is not perfect and I think is taking a closer look at its faults, but there remains much to celebrate – Issy’s simple Golden Rule philosophy, Horst’s “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” and as Jerry so perfectly stated, emotional connectivity, team productivity, integrity and trust.

It was nice to see everyone step back and recognize they are part of a special business. Sometimes we all need a reminder.

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