Posted by Eva Ferguson
Leaving the 2010 IHG Americas Investors Conference, my feet hurt and my body was tired, but I was energized once again by this gathering. Energized because, to be surrounded by individuals who love what they do, who want to be part of delivering something great, who see beyond today and seek tomorrow, reaffirms everything that I know to be true about the hotel business. That truth? No matter what challenges we face today, we know tomorrow brings another opportunity to make it better.
I heard a lot last week about those challenges that our hotel owners are facing. The credit crunch continues to impact development of new product and maintenance of current product. Outside factors erode revenue performance and bleed profits from our hotels. Pending and proposed legislation has negatively affected how every owner operates, whether they own one hotel or 20.
While the challenges might be present, they weren’t defining the tone and content of the educational sessions, our conversations at dinner, or the impromptu meetings in the halls. What was defining our conversations was what has defined, and will continue to define, our industry—our people.
People are the heart of the hotel industry and its greatest asset. Yes, we need the real estate to build hotels, and the financing that goes with it, but we thrive because of the people — people with passion. In talking with owners during this year’s conference, we continued to go back to the topic of people. How to you recruit and retain the best employees? How do we identify and engage our most loyal guests? How do we create hotels that guests and employees love? Resoundingly I heard that the key to our success was to invest in the most valuable asset a profitable hotel can have: its employees.
I know firsthand it’s the people who define this industry, and I know I’m not alone in that belief. Everywhere I turned last week, we talked about people. Whether it was how to help a struggling general manager or reward an outstanding housekeeper, we talked about the people who make up the fabric of our hotels. We talked about how to connect new owners with more experienced ones and how to educate legislators about the challenges we face. In the face of great challenges from many fronts, we remain focused on our greatest asset: people with a passion for service and the hotel business.
These are my people.