Weekly briefing: Career security in an AI-driven world + meaning at work

with Michael Hraba, Steven Moore, Veerle Donders & more

AI continues to advance at breakneck speed, with breakthroughs happening each week. Have you heard about AutoGPT? It’s basically AI that works with other AI to solve complex problems and build/do things on its own. This week’s All-In Podcast discusses what’s going on, and I encourage you to read my Guide to Artificial Intelligence for Hospitality Leaders for some context if you haven’t already.

This creates a big opportunity for recruiting for the hotel industry, says Michael Hraba. He’s a partner at San Francisco-based Waterford Hotels & Inns and runs operations for their portfolio, which includes iconic properties such as Inn At the Presidio and Lodge At the Presidio.

We’re also going to look at finding meaning in your work and how reconnecting with your ‘why’ helps with this. I had a great conversation with Actabl CEO Steven Moore on this topic in Denver last week after fighting some burnout, and I hope you find his message as helpful as I did.

Let’s jump into it….

by Michael Hraba, Partner, Waterford Hotels & Inns

Credit: Josiah Mackenzie / HotelOperations.com

The big idea: AI has the potential to disrupt careers much more than the internet did. Many jobs across industries are at risk now, but hospitality-oriented service is something that can’t be taken over by AI.

“AI is going to make many more people look at hospitality as the place to build a durable career because there are so many jobs that can’t be replaced.”

Michael Hraba

With Steven Moore, CEO at Actabl

Credit: Actabl

The big idea: For the sake of ourselves and the people around us, it’s imperative we lift our heads up and think about why we do what we do - and the impact and ripple effects hospitality has on the world.

“Operating out of your unique gifts creates a virtuous cycle that gives you energy and gives other people energy.”

Steven Moore

Video of the week: from Veerle Donders, Zoku

"Bleisure" is a massive trend creating opportunities (and revenue) for hospitality businesses - but it's also creating a big problem, says Veerle Donders, creative and brand director at Zoku.

Photo of the week: from Rupesh Patel

“I’ve always tried to make the hotel business a family affair. For my kids’ school career day, I was proud to share why hotels are fun. For me, memories and legacy are everything.”

Rupesh “Rup” Patel

Danny Meyer is the founder and chairman of Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), which comprises some of New York’s most beloved and acclaimed restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, and more. Danny and USHG also founded Shake Shack, the modern-day “roadside” burger restaurant, which became a public company in 2015. While Danny is not a hotelier, so much in this episode applies to every hotel operator.

“I spent the first 10 years of my career almost exclusively focused on trying to motivate problem employees to be better, like the weeds. What I learned was that our employees are like sunflowers. They will turn wherever the sun is. If I’m spending all of my attention on the weeds, I’m actually pulling the gravitational force that way. My grandmother’s lesson was right: If I water the flowers and spend more time with the people who maybe I’ve taken for granted because they’re doing such a great job, they actually crowd out the weeds and the weeds take care of themselves.”

Danny Meyer

More for you

  • The hotel companies that win in 2023 are the ones that make it easy (Sean McCracken, HNN): “The companies that win this time around are the ones that make things easy. For too long, the hotel industry has expected people to jump through needless hoops on the way to making bookings from everything from rooms to meetings and event spaces. It's 2023, and I think we should all have realized by now that the No. 1 goal should be to make it simple for people to give you their money when they want to, tech obstacles and legacy systems be damned.”

  • Hoteliers Move Beyond RevPAR For Comprehensive Business Intelligence (Jason Freed, MDO): “Measuring profit allows hoteliers to understand the true financial health of their business and make informed decisions about pricing, operations, and investments. Profitability ratios such as gross profit margin, operating profit margin, and net profit margin provide insights into the efficiency and profitability of a hotel’s operations. ‘The great thing about P&L data is that it’s a true indicator of whether or not you’re making the right decisions,’ says Steve Hennis, a hotel data analyst and International Society of Hospitality Consultants board member. ‘That’s not only true for operators, but even investors can look at P&L data to determine whether to buy, sell or renovate a property. It brings all parties to a level playing field.’”

  • HVMG Doubles Down on Two Differentiators That Set Company Apart From Competitors (Dana Miller, HNN) - “The company's Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence, launched in 2021 and has produced more than 2,000 hourly associates for HVMG's 50-plus hotel portfolio. ‘Our goal there was to take a lot of the behind-the-scenes interviews, background checks, sourcing, and screening off the plates of the GMs and their teams, put it on the team of specialists in Atlanta, and serve up very qualified candidates.’ This has since allowed general managers and their teams to spend more time accommodating guests and current associates as well as taking sales calls and focusing on revenue.”

  • Have You Noticed What Is Missing from the Full Service Hotel Experience? (Chuck Kelly, Cayuga): “I always favor the operator with the long-term perspective vs. the operator who is squeezing the extra nickel and will only change when the customer votes with his/her feet. The problem with the short-term profit approach is that it creates a long-term recovery problem.

  • Leading From The C-Suite: Hilton’s Chris Silcock On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective C-Suite Executive (Doug Noll): “First, you need to know yourself. I am a huge introvert and am very analytical. Therefore, I know the activities that are going to drain me and make it harder to be at my best. As such, I manage my calendar accordingly and ensure I have the time and space to recover to be effective in whatever I do next.“

  • Connecting People With Our Hearts, Through Technology (Maria Navarro for Harri): “Working in hospitality means having the power to change someone’s day with a facial expression. Or helping someone feel better by the tone of our voice. Technology seems to always be one step ahead of us, but nothing can replace the warmth of the human touch. So, how can we make sure to still connect with our hearts through technology? Think about how you want them to feel.“

  • Amplifying Humanity: A Look Inside the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership (Dan Ryan): “‘The goal of this program is to increase black representation at the highest levels of this business, meaning corporate and c-suite level roles, in addition to increasing the number of black owners in the hospitality space.’ By examining barriers to leadership opportunities for Black professionals in the hospitality industry, the Center can develop strategies to dismantle these obstacles and forge pathways to success.”

  • The rise of bleisure (Booking.com): Lots of interesting charts and data in this one

  • Business Travel Begins to Take Off, But Full Recovery Experiences Further Delays (Deloitte): “In general, business travelers seem to want the freedom to incorporate their own desires into corporate travel — be that a desire for inspiration, being able to avoid the crowds, or to take the chance to really appreciate a country they might not have visited otherwise. This freedom also includes the ability to keep work and play separate, should they choose to.”

  • 35 Ways Real People Are Using A.I. Right Now (NYT): “It’s like collaborating with an alien.” “Everything is becoming much easier.” “It feels like I’ve hired an intern.”

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