Is it Possible That We Are Experiencing the Best of All Worlds?

By Naomi Stark President, Stark Service Solutions, LLC | April 09, 2017

The question that the Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Resort and Spa is exploring an answer to, as are many others, is: "How do we honor authentic hospitality, our rich history, our unique timeless gem of a property, and remain relevant for future generations – starting with Millennials?"

The sad, but honest truth is, the guests that have been patrons of this particular historic landmark are getting older. As they travel less, their business is coming to a close. So how does this property and all in the industry for that matter, ensure that Millennials and future generations choose them to create their time honored traditions and memories? The answer just might be one of the easiest hoteliers have had in over 20 years.

An Experience for the Books

Just over 20 years ago, I had what I consider to be, the best start in the hospitality industry. I was part of the early days of what was then, the Orchid at Mauna Lani, a Sheraton ITT Luxury Collection property. I 'was just a server' who wanted to get as far away from cold snowy New England weather as possible. I was ready for adventure and wanted to meet people from around the world. What better way to do that than to work in the hospitality industry! The adventure was just beginning. Even then I recognized that I was part of a very special team, at a very special time. Now, more than 20 years later, props to LinkedIn, many of us who worked together 'back in the day' are still connected and have gone on to build exciting careers. I am willing to bet that if you ask anyone from that 'era' they will tell you that it was a moment in time that we will all cherish. The experience was one for the books!

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because, that experience epitomizes what we are all striving for – an experience – whether as a guest or as an employee – we want to experience things. We want to matter and we want to make a difference. We all have jobs, careers, titles, whatever, but being part of something, part of an experience, that is the ideal.

Besides the fact that I always like talking about my Hawaii experience, there actually is a lesson from that hotel experience that is directly relevant to Hotel Executive's April theme. Experiences are what Millennials – the tech-centric generation are actually looking for. How does this benefit hotels and their bottom line?

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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.