The Essentials of Successful Leadership for Today's Hospitality Executive

By Richard Takach, Jr. President & CEO, Vesta Hospitality | June 19, 2016

All of us involved in the hospitality industry are well aware that we have experienced a historic run of consecutive quarterly gains in RevPAR over the past several years, with steady growth in both occupancy rates and ADR over most of this period. Our sector generates substantial economic activity across a broad spectrum – from guest expenditures to financing, maintenance and supplies, construction and capital investment, and wages and compensation paid to team members.

As a result we are making significant contributions to a healthy American economy, including having added more than 2 million new jobs since 2004 by one account. It is further comforting to know that a number of hospitality organizations regularly make Fortune's annual list of 100 "Best Companies to Work For."

Clearly, this good news reflects well on our industry's hard-working, creative and visionary leaders.

In this article, we will consider some of the values, attitudes and skills it takes to be an effective leader in the hospitality sector, striving to form a lasting culture of service, teamwork and excellence.

Furthermore, such a discussion will help illuminate what hospitality leaders might look for or consider as they nurture a next generation of leaders for their industry. In this way, we turn the mirror upon ourselves, prompting us to rethink our own capabilities, principles and sense of purpose as leaders.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.