Editorial Board   

Mr. LaTour

Tom LaTour

Principal, LaTour Signature Group

Tom LaTour is one of the founding partners of LaTour Signature Group, a joint-venture business with ResortCom Elite that provides superior management services to small, luxury fractional ownership properties throughout North America. As the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group, he is applying his more than 40 years of experience in the travel and hospitality industry to this booming new vacation real estate market. A graduate of Michigan State University, Mr. LaTour started his illustrious career working for American Airlines as general manager for the Sky Chef division. He joined Amfac Hotels in 1973, and for 10 years helped operate the diversified hotel and restaurant chain's 17 nationwide properties. In 1983, Mr. LaTour joined founder Bill Kimpton in the ambitious endeavor of pioneering the then new hospitality niche of boutique hotels. Throughout his nearly quarter century with the company, he saw the exclusive Kimpton brand expand to include 40 boutique hotels and restaurants throughout 17 cities in the United States and Canada. The Kimpton brand stood out for its commitment to helping guests maintain and enrich their lifestyles on the road. Each property reflected the energy, personality and pulse of its distinct location, history and architectural style. Kimpton, under Mr. LaTour 's direction, provided highly personalized guest services and welcomed travelers with an atmosphere that embraced its signature elements of care, comfort, style, flavor and fun. Mr. LaTour retired in 2006 after a 23-year career at Kimpton, during which his dedication and visionary leadership established it as the leader in the boutique/lifestyle hotel segment as well as creating strategic alliances with global issues and eco-friendly efforts such as AIDs research and Trust for Public Land. In early 2007, Mr. LaTour joined long-time friend and business associate John E. Small, along with ResortCom International's President Jeff Healy, to form San Diego-based LaTour Signature Group. According to Small, "Tom LaTour has the incredible vision and extraordinary business acumen necessary to lead the explosive growth in this niche market by providing the ultimate luxury brand for smaller fractional properties." In addition to heading this new business venture, Mr. LaTour remains on the board of directors for Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group and also serves on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including the Hoffman Institute and the REDF "Investing in Employment Hope." He is a trustee of the San Francisco Maritime Park Association and serves on the San Francisco Planning and Urban Development Association advisory Board. In addition, he is founding board member of the Union Square Business Improvement District, past chair of the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau, and is on the advisory board for California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Along with his wife, Barbara, he owns and operates the 25-acre LaTour Vineyards in Napa Valley where they produce barrel-fermented Chardonnay, Pinot and Syrah wines.

Mr. LaTour can be contacted at 415-568-2210 or tlatour@latoursignaturegroup.com

Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.