A great guest experience doesn’t just happen – it depends heavily on the employees who provide it. People make the magic. You can have the most updated hotel property, in an ideal location, with great amenities, and if your team is subpar, it won’t matter. The hotel won’t be successful and guests won’t come back! Conversely, a tired property that is clean and offers outstanding guest service – provided by great employees – is a place guests will return to and will recommend to their friends. The second hotel will maintain market share and grow in profitability. The first one won’t. That difference is because of the employees.
So how can you hire and keep employees who make that difference? In their new book, The People Effect, authors Joel Carver and Mary Weber share some of the foundational concepts that they have found useful over their years in the hospitality industry and in managing and leading people. As dynamic leaders and change agents, both Weber and Carver are firm believers that whenever good people are involved, magic can happen.
The two first crossed paths in 2008 when they both worked in senior leadership roles with a hospitality management and real estate company. Carver led the sales and marketing functions and Weber was the senior HR leader for the organization. The journey they went on - along with a team of great leaders - was first to keep the hotels profitable and staffed during the great recession. They then pivoted to designing and implementing organizational strategies to create and support a team of associates who were among the best in the industry as the economy recovered.
Weber moved on from that role to continue her 30-year career in strategic human resources leadership and talent management strategies. She left the corporate world to consult, provide leadership coaching, teach at the collegiate level and ultimately, share her knowledge and experiences through the book. Carver also took the entrepreneurial path and founded The Carver Companies, which is transforming the hospitality industry as it has become the largest hospitality facing, human capital organization in North America.
This book was born out of a comment that the two often heard from clients and colleagues - “You really need to write a book” to share experiences and perspectives. They had seen a profound change in how employers manage their employees and in how employees want to be treated over this past decade and felt it was important that leaders take note. The change resulted from a significant shift in priorities over the years. While profitability has always been the goal, in today’s world an exclusive focus on the P & L has taken over how many hotels are managed. The goal of every hotel is to provide a clean, well-run hotel with a great guest experience – profitably. However, the “profitably” part has been crowding out everything else. With the P & L driving most decisions, hotel managers have forgotten about the people effect. Guests and employees have taken a backseat to the bottom line.
During the great recession, employees became a commodity, but that has shifted dramatically. Unemployment in the U.S. is at the lowest point in 50 years. Good employees are hard to find, let alone retain. So the recession-era way to view and treat them needs to change—and change fast. Hotel operators, like other business owners, must switch from treating employees like commodities to treating them like the assets they are. The only way to attract and retain the best talent is to value the people who possess that talent and create a positive, memorable, and supportive employee experience for them. “Employees are the foundation of the success of any business – particularly in the hotel industry. If we treat our people well, they will treat our customers well, which will treat our P&L sheet well,” said Weber. “If we don’t, our guest experiences will collapse and take our profits with them.”
Carver and Weber have continued to collaborate together to address human capital challenges facing each of them in their new roles. In their book, the two share some best practices on how to create a strong and positive employee experience. They organized the book to mirror the experience most employers have with their employees - covering everything from the fundamentals like organizational culture, to recruiting, selection, performance management, career development and more. Most chapters have two sections. First, there’s a story line illustrating some of the challenges associated with managing people in a complex hotel setting. So in the first part of each chapter, you’ll meet General Manager Margaret and HR Director Josh and see the scenarios from their individual points of view. The second section of each chapter includes ideas and solutions that hotel GMs and HR managers can start using immediately to enhance the employee experience. The plan is not just to inspire and provide examples, but also to give concrete action steps and strategies. Weber and Carver include samples and resources at the end of the book to help readers get started with the tactics they cover.
While the book is primarily targeted at hoteliers, the concepts and solutions presented are tried and true, and easily applied to other industries. “Our goal in writing this book is to encourage and empower hotel owners and operators to begin dedicating the same attention and care to their greatest resources – their people – that they have previously dedicated to brick and mortar assets and line items on the P&L sheet,” said Carver. “If you’re on board with that goal, this book is for you.”