Creating Future Leaders in the Hospitality Industry

By Steven Belmonte CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC | October 28, 2008

Singer Bob Dylan said it best when he penned the now-famous catchphrase - these times are a'changing. I'm a big advocate on change. I like the challenges and advancement it brings to my personal and professional life. The business world is evolving with the advent of technological advances; the financial industry is changing its course to adapt with the growing global marketplace and unification of currencies; and the hospitality industry is incorporating all of the abovementioned changes into its mission plans to better serve its guests.

It goes without saying that in order for enterprises to be successful, there need to be leaders at the helm. Some say leaders are born, others believe they are trained; but I believe that with the right tools and encouragement, leaders can come into their own in the hospitality industry.

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." - President John F. Kennedy

A key priority in creating leaders is education. This is an ongoing process that doesn't end with a degree in hand. There are the latest property management systems that need to be mastered and incorporated at properties, new generational marketing tools need to be applied to attract a new and larger consumer base, and seminars to be enrolled in to learn of new trends in the industry. In order to be a leader, one needs to be in tune with the developments in their field. A good hotel owner should encourage his/her staff to pursue educational and certification advancement in the lodging sector. A good start is with the Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) certification. More information on this program can be found online at http://www.ei-ahla.org/certification_cha.asp

As your business and brand continues to expand, so will opportunities to create leaders in various fields within the hospitality industry - such as brand management, public relations, guest relations, online development, marketing, account management, and accounting. Many community colleges offer short-term certification courses in the latest technologies that your property may wish to invest in to streamline business. Designating a leader from your team of employees to take the class may be an effective method in ensuring leadership-building skills. My advice to hoteliers is to help employees reach their potential heights by providing them with the educational opportunities that are available.

"Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve." - Football coach Tom Landry

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.