Ultimately, this business is all about hospitality. Period. Not real estate. Not yield management. Not bathroom amenities. The industry's focus should first and always be providing superior hospitality to guests. Everything else (sales, profits, growth) will follow.
That was the astute observation and passionate message from Houston Stiggow, a non-hotelier but a successful businessman who knows and applies this wisdom to his company, SusieCakes Bakeries, a very successful chain in California. Stiggow was among a group of honorees (me included) at a Celebration of Leadership Awards ceremony hosted last Saturday night by The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University. The Celebration was held at the Waldorf=Astoria hotel during the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City.
Stiggow's message to the 60-plus MSU students in the room was succinct, profound and dead-on: No matter your business—a hotel, a bakery or a manufacturing firm—the most important ingredient is hospitality, or treating your customers as family, as you want to be treated. His inspiration is a book, Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, written by New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer.
A final point Stiggow made was most poignant. While his firm is a heavy user of Facebook, Twitter and other digital media, he believes those efforts still take a back seat to personally taking care of guests. As he said, “The best social media is great hospitality.”