AS A VOCAL CRITIC OF OUR INABILITY TO INNOVATE, I NOW TAKE PLEASURE IN OBSERVING EXPLOSIONS OF CREATIVITY POPPING UP EVERYWHERE.
What a thrill to see the industry acting irrationally and creatively for a change. Allow me to take off my hat to those that are starting to take some risks.
I believe that they are right but I also believe that we are all to blame for our addiction to company or minimum standards.
- Starwood takes whole Executive team to China and then announces 175 new hotels there and Chinese breakfast items chain-wide. They have since taken them to Dubai.
- St Pancras Hotel is restored lovingly back to British perfection and then does the same thing with the menu.
- Richard Branson promotes the aggressive hiring of ex-convicts.
- Hotel Fox in Denmark........hang on a minute. That was done by Volkswagen!
- Rooms designed by Graffiti Artists.
Here is where our innovation is lacking however.
- Rooms are fundamentally dirty. Our industry should be pioneering cleanliness through design, maintenance and management. Our space science techniques should be exported to homes and households.
- Sound & In-room Entertainment. Televisions, radios & telephones should have been advanced technologically to make the bedroom and bathroom into entertainment spaces.
- Retail opportunities for Lifestyle abound. Beds, linens, carpets, marble & granite innovations are just the start. Restaurant table-tops, china, glass, silverware and furniture are waiting to be merchandised.
- Employees are in very short supply in the West. We are 12-15 million workers short. Workers cannot get to jobs because borders need reinvention. Our jobs can never be exported. Ourindustry needs reinvention and that can in part come from our employees.
- Local artists and artisans need to be integrated into all hotels & restaurants. We are in entertainment but we have not yet embraced it.
- Creativity is not encouraged. In fact it is shunned and relegated to the brand managers, the keepers of brand standards tied to minimums.
This is an industry that is losing its way. It is being overtaken by opportunists that are licensing the privilege of operating a hotel under a reputable name without the commitment to the philosophy.
Since this Blog was first drafted almost two years ago ( I just found it again), I have been exposed to yet more industry standards glued to the past and to basic minimums, rather than maximums. I have found standards that were ill-conceived, poorly researched and even worse, have been rejected outright.
I am tempted to think back to an era when a great chain was launched internationally with but a suggestion of creativity, a titillating suggestion that the hotels were launch pads for regional character, foreign personality and local touches. As General Managers of these farflung properties in developing countries, it was our responsibility to identify and introduce these small, intriguing neighbourhood winks of local colour. These ideas were often the suggestions from local entry-level employees who were proud of their culture and thrilled that their ideas showed off their country, a piece of their history, their artisanry, their heritage.
The 'Touches of Hyatt' were in my opinion one of the most brilliant advertising & marketing campaigns ever launched by a hotel group which harnessed the innovativeness of thousand of managers and employees and focused their attention on their guests' delight. It lasted for years. It should have lasted forever!
Centralising standards is going backwards.
Leadership, innovativeness and delegation with authority and responsibility needs to be taken to a new plateau. We are a lifestyle industry in the business of entertainment and our theatres need more amusement, greater variety and more fun.