The message heard during the annual NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York in June couldn’t have been clearer: the industry is booming. Monthly occupancy rates and number of rooms sold are breaking records. Profits are increasing, demand is high and supply growth in most markets is under control.
This is music to the ears of hotel owners and operators. Meanwhile, another set of messages emerged that are not headline-making but still deserve attention. Those messages were heard in the event’s keynote speeches, delivered by Las Vegas’ Steve Wynn and the legendary J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr.
(It would be hard to find two more iconic industry veterans. Together, they have close to 107 years of hospitality experience between them. Bill Marriott got his start in 1956.)
Wynn and Marriott paid tribute to the role employees play in delivering guest service. “Things don’t make guests happy. People make guests happy,” Wynn said. Marriott echoed those remarks, saying, “We’ve always believed if you take care of your associates, they’ll take care of your customers.”
Truth be told that for guests to return back to your hotel it takes more than a good rate and location since invariably, new hotels are being built around us at an unprecedented rate. The real driver for customer loyalty is for us to create a “memorable guest experience” focus for associates at all levels. With this mindset, empowering staff to execute these initiatives becomes a strategic objective.
In the context of the industry’s current outsize performance, Wynn’s and Marriott’s words served as a kind of reality check. The business is notoriously cyclical. A downturn will inevitably occur. The human fundamentals of the business, on the other hand, are ongoing.