Core values startups have in common with hospitality - Insights

Core values startups have in common with hospitality

Start upsWorking at a tech startup with many hotel clients, I’ve noticed first hand that while the startup environment is fundamentally very different than working in hospitality, what it takes to succeed in these industries is curiously similar. Many common startup principles will resonate with any successful hotel staffer. Take a look at a few:

Empowerment/self organization

Startups move quickly. Therefore, to be successful, each and every team member must feel empowered – empowered in their creative problem solving abilities and empowered to make smart, strategic decisions. We hire only people who are driven, self-organized and can translate new ideas from idea to product.

Empowered staff is also one of the essential traits of the world’s greatest hotels. Staff who know how to beautifully color outside the lines are able to be flexible and adaptable with guests. Ritz-Carlton attributes this to its success, noting that staff at all levels is fully empowered (even with a discretionary budget) to help guests when an issue arises. The CEO of Montage Hotels & Resorts calls this concept their “thinking culture,” and it allows them to fully tailor their service to guest needs.

Passion & vision

Startups require their employees to work relentlessly and around the clock. Employees cannot perform at this level without being passionate about their work and their company’s mission. Our passion is to make travel better for today’s travelers and to create positive change in the industry. To achieve our passion and our goals, however, we also embrace vision. This is the strategic thinking and goal-oriented execution it takes to turn our passion into a viable—and valuable—travel product or service.

A vision for guest service fuels every successful hotel brand around. For Hilton: “To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” For Kempinski: “Luxury hospitality with European flair.” For Accor: “Feel welcome.” Ritz-Carlton: “The Ritz-Carlton inspires life’s most meaningful journeys.” And certainly, a passion for guest service—at all staff levels—is what separates the good from the great in the hospitality world.

Communication and transparency

So simple, and yet communication is possibly the most complicated value to instill and excel at. It encompasses so much. Verbal and written. Seen and heard. Respect for colleagues’ and clients’ ideas and their time. Above all, our team is transparent about what we do, how we do it, expectations, deadlines and changes, when we make a mistake and how the optimal solution will work.

For hotels, exceptional guest service is rooted in great communication. Conveying details via reservations (both voice and online), responding to guests with appropriate body language and emotional recognition, writing review responses in an authentic and understanding way, being accountable and honest about staff or hotel limitations or failings, conveying enthusiasm, compassion, interest, and so on. And communication between different departments is fundamental. In fact, Hyatt has actually embraced communication as one of their guiding HR principles. They call it “Hyatt Thinking,” and it’s based entirely around empathetic listening.

At the end of the day

Perhaps what underpins the success of core values, whether at a hotel or startup, is the act of having core values. Followed by embracing those values and ensuring that they are communicated. Most importantly, they must be embraced at every level of management so that directors and managers are responding to staff in ways that only reinforce the core values of the organization.

About the author

Margaret AdyMargaret Ady serves as vice president of marketing at TrustYou, a big data and online reputation management company specializing in the hospitality industry. She graduated from the University of Southern California with degrees in Economics and Psychology, and where she was awarded the Annenberg Communications Pathway Grant in 2004 for her research in new technology and its impact on health and healthcare decision-making. Margaret has extensive experience in research, marketing and brand strategy, having served in leadership positions at The Walt Disney Company (where she was appointed to the company’s Peer Advisory Board), and The Oprah Winfrey Network. She has also provided research and strategic consulting services to 20th Television (Fox), Nielsen and many other companies in FMCG/Entertainment/IT industries.

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