On the fast lane with old values?!
Which values stand for the hotel of the future?
You may be surprised, but many years ago I started my professional life with one of the worst Abitur/A-Levels of my Class.
I loved art, poetry, ancient languages, history, the theater and our student newspaper. Only the grades did not want to be like I wanted them to be - and not least because of a diligently grown Pygmalion complex* successfully developed by the constant approach of my math teachers.
Nevertheless I happily got rid of my shackles in small town life and opened a new chapter in Switzerland at one of the first universities in the Bologna Agreement. True to my motto: why do the same when there is another way?
Spurred on by my parents' trust, I overcame my fear of failure and quickly opened up to student life in the distance. My 300 fellow students from five continents and countless new cultures showed me every day that I was not alone in this world. Intercultural studies and the world of international management soon made the initial culture shock largely forgotten.
This started my journey. After two years, I had fought my way up to the top 15 percent of my university, got hold of one of the coveted scholarship places at Washington State University, signed a job contract one year before graduation and was accepted into the international student association "Eta Sigma Delta Honor Society".
After 19 years, I had made a 180 degree turn within a few months. How did that happen? Looking back, the values and energy of my fellow students at the university and in the student union have had a lasting impact on and motivated me. Together we committed ourselves to the "Points of Honor" (similar to the Hippocratic Oath for doctors).
These “values of honor” call for a life with and for one another in Excellence, Leadership, Creativity, Service & Ethics! Cesar Ritz - one of the founding fathers of the luxury hotel industry and namesake of my alma mater - condensed the meaning of the five values into one sentence: "Ladies and Gentlemen - serving Ladies and Gentlemen".
Values are so much more than empty words. They are our promise to ourself, our families, friends, employees and customers - and to the future. In view of the current global situation, I wonder how things are going with values in the hotel industry. Do we really still live and work for our employees and guests with excellence, leadership, creativity, service and ethics? Or have these values been finally lost due to the COVID pandemic, the sword of the controlling departments, the overriding digitization and cookie cutter strategies of the chain hotel industry?
Personally, my values led me from the ancient Greeks to the topics of the future, allowing me to overcome hurdles and always straightening myself up when being on the ground. As a change agent and transformer, that taught me to always look first at what is good and valuable in a company - and only then to look for what can be transformed from that basis.
Rarely the traditions, beliefs, numbers and facts - but almost always the values of the people - help to survive difficult times and to reinvent oneself.
As Hannah Arendt said so perfectly: “When people come together, miracles have to be expected. We never know what's going to happen. This is another way of saying that the world is unpredictable. We do not know it. We'll try everything and then we'll see how we can handle it."
How timeless for this world that, after so many decades, is keeping us busy in a volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambivalent way. What do you think? Which values do we need for the “hotel of the future”?
*Pygmalion complex: when someone tells you that you can't and at some point you really believe it and act accordingly. For more: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion-Effekt
Cookie cutter strategy: colloquially a duplication strategy that imitates, copies and duplicates concepts, business models or ways of acting without being individual, original or authentic. The term goes back to the act in which you cut any number of identical cookies out of a dough with the help of a cookie mold.*
An article written by Britta Viktoria Opatz, published on March 30th, 2021.