Hospitality management is one of the most complex – and most rewarding – leadership careers there is. You’re not only delivering a service, you’re creating exceptional experiences for guests, whether they’re business travelers, moms out for a girls’ weekend or high school students traveling for a band competition.
You are helping guests create memories, and to do that well takes a touch of inspiration. To create that spark, we’ve compiled wisdom from some of the giants in the hospitality industry.
Let’s let these legendary hoteliers speak for themselves; here are 30 inspirational quotes for hospitality management:
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Hotels: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.”
Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and customer service guru: “Hospitality is almost impossible to teach. It's all about hiring the right people.”
Horst Schulze, former president of The Ritz Carlton Hotels and CEO of Capella Hotel Group: “Don’t hire people to fill a position, select people to fulfill a dream and to serve a purpose.”
On Customer Experience
Steve Wynn, founder of Wynn Resorts: “All of the razzmatazz and jazz we hear about facilities and everything else doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. It’s customer experience that determines the longevity and endurance of these enterprises.”
Willard Marriott, founder of the Marriott Corporation: “Motivate them, train them, care about them, and make winners out of them... they'll treat the customers right. And if customers are treated right, they'll come back.”
Ian Schrager, hotelier and co-founder of Studio 54: “When I go to a hotel, I want to feel like a guest in a good friend's house. I want to be treated nicely and have every whim catered to. It means if I want room service that it's quick, inexpensive and tastes good.”
Helen Hamlyn, philanthropist and hotelier: "I don't know anything about running a hotel except what I don't like at other places."
Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible”: "When owners say, 'well (online reviews are) not important, people lie about them,' I guarantee you, everybody, you're all going out of business."
On the Importance of Details
J. Willard Marriott: “It's the little things that make the big things possible. Only close attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”
Bill Kimpton, founder of Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group: ''A hotel should relieve travelers of their insecurity and loneliness. It should make them feel warm and cozy.''
Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: “I’ve identified the four key strategic decisions that formed the rock-solid foundation of Four Seasons. These are now known as the four pillars of our business model. They are quality, service, culture, and brand.”
Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton Hotels chain: “Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub.”
Horst Shulze: “Leadership is creating an environment in which people want to be part of the organization and not just work for the organization. Leadership creates an environment that makes people want to, rather than have to, do.”
J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International, Inc.: “The four most important words in the English language are, ‘What do you think?’ Listen to your people and learn.”
Barry Sternlicht, founder of Starwood Hotels and Resorts: “You have to be willing to change your mind…As the facts change, change your thesis. Don’t be a stubborn mule, or you’ll get killed.”
Isadore Sharp: “Keep your egos in check, and let the people who work for you shine. Because they’re the people who know our customers best, the people we depend on to lead the way. It’s no longer ‘Do as I say.’ It’s ‘Do as I do.”
Barry Sternlicht: “You can learn everything that there is to know about the industry or the player from the company that is performing better or worse.”
Richard Branson: “When employees tell you about their good ideas for the business, don't limit your response to asking questions, taking notes and following up. If you can, ask those people to lead their projects and take responsibility for them. From those experiences, they will then have built the confidence to take on more and you can take a further step back.”
Kemmons Wilson, founder of the Holiday Inn: “Remember, a person who wins success may have been counted out many times before. He wins because he refuses to give up.”
On Being a Woman in the Hospitality Industry
Grace Leo-Andrieu, founder of G.L.A. Hotels: "I get a lot of comments from businesswomen traveling alone who say that staying at the Lancaster in Paris is like staying with friends. The staff is trained to put women at ease. The restaurant is open only to guests and their friends, so there's a sense of security."
Mary Mahoney, hotelier: "I always advise other female professionals to look for companies where women are already in place in high level positions and for companies that offer internal mentoring programs."
Kit Kemp, co-founder of Firmdale Hotels: "The challenge I give myself—which, I'm sorry, would never occur to a man—is to craft common spaces with residential tone and texture where people want to idle."
Joy Rothschild, Senior VP of Human Resources, Omni Hotels: "I find that this is one industry where hard work, spirit, and energy trump degrees or where you sit on the pecking order. If you are willing to put in the time--which is easier said than done--you should have no obstacles. You do need to be willing to go where the opportunities are. The more flexible you are, the better."
Marla Davis, President of the Network of Executive Women in Hospitality: "Joining a professional association shows initiative and provides ambitious women with training and support, as well as networking and mentoring opportunities."
On Good Design
Ian Schrager: “Good design is good business.”
Avi Brosh, founder of Paligroup Hotels: “Design is and of itself is not a competitive position. It’s one leg of the stool. It’s one of many points that go into making something great.”
Grace Leo-Andrieu: “You can't pay enough attention to bathrooms. Many women travelers spend more time in them than in their bedrooms."
Kit Kemp: "In my experience, men and women in the hotel business have different priorities. It's the nuts and bolts of elevator shafts versus the seduction of upholstery fabrics. They want to talk about quantity surveyors; I want to talk about a great new bench I've found to put at the foot of the bed."
On the Future
Avi Brosh: “The future of boutique hotels is not about size or design or asset class. It’s about going back to the beginning, back to what Morgans did. That’s delving on this promise to create an authentic ad hoc community of like-minded people that for an evening or a few nights transcend nationality or who believe who they are. It’s a promise that a guest be whoever they want to be for that night.”
Conrad Hilton: “To accomplish big things, I am convinced you must first dream big dreams.”