How To Really Care For Your People and Move Beyond Lip Service

with Anthony Pellegrino, Head of Hotels, Ash

Good morning. As we close International Housekeeping Week, let’s not just move on and forget about the people who are so important to providing hospitality. Helping us do this today is Anthony Pellegrino, Head of Hotels at Ash - one of the most caring people I’ve met, and someone who is going to give us specific suggestions for caring for the people who work alongside us.

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How To Really Care For Your People and Move Beyond Lip Service

with Anthony Pellegrino, Head of Hotels, Ash

Anthony Pellegrino

In hospitality, everyone talks about the importance of people. Yet, too often, this sentiment falls flat when you get into the details of the operations. The day-to-day reality of those on the front lines rarely matches up to the lofty claims of some leaders. But there are thought people in the industry who genuinely prioritize and care for their people, moving beyond just words.

One of those people is Anthony Pellegrino, Head of Hotels at Ash, an award-winning designer, developer, owner, and operator of hotels. Today, we talk about his approach to ensuring the well-being of the people working on his teams.

Understanding the Role

Anthony has a fancy title at one of the hottest hotel companies in the world, but at his core, he's a self-proclaimed "Ops Guy." While Ash designs incredibly beautiful hotels, Anthony’s top focus isn't on the aesthetics, but on the functional aspects - understanding the details of everyday tasks and making sure everything runs smoothly.

The Essence of Operations

I asked Anthony why operations is so important, and he told me it's all about serving people. And that means not just the guests but also caring for our colleagues.

Service to others to me is the most important thing in life, and I think that's why operations is important. We're serving other human beings. We're being kind, caring, thoughtful about how we treat them. We’re thinking about how they get to work, what their workday looks like when they're here, what they're faced with when they're here. It’s about building relationships over time.

Walking the Talk

Many in the hospitality industry claim that people matter, but how many genuinely act on it? According to Anthony, one of the industry's missteps is not designing spaces keeping in mind the people who will work there.

I told the design team to build the hotel for housekeeping.

When designing a hotel, the focus should be on making tasks more efficient and comfortable for housekeeping, Anthony says - ensuring a better experience both for the employees and the guests.

Anthony also stresses the importance of building real relationships. When visiting one of their properties, he makes it a point to dine with his housekeeping team, celebrate their achievements, and build trust and respect by spending time with them.

When I come to town, it's housekeeping I take out to the restaurant for a meal.

These interactions aren’t just corporate check-ins for Anthony - he really wants to get to know and understand the people he works with.

They know me and because there's a relationship there, they don't have to be on edge because I'm here. They don't have to give me lip service for anything. We have an honest relationship. Relationships, trust, and respect are built - and those are things you get when you spend time with people and you break bread with people.

From the Kitchen to the Boardroom

One of the parts of our conversation that stood out for me was how Anthony’s own career journey shapes how he thinks about people today.

I always say I'm just a kid from the kitchen. From 19 to the age of 33, I was in the kitchen. And I will tell you it was those years that formed my thinking about humanity and how people should be treated and how to understand others. That's really where my emotional intelligence started.

It’s this experience and the fact that hospitality provides the opportunity for someone like him to go from working in the kitchen to today running a successful hotel company that gives him a drive that we can all learn from.

This is why I love hospitality and why I love the people in hospitality, and I demand more from hospitality as a whole on behalf of those people.

Moving beyond just lip service about caring for people requires genuine relationships, understanding, and a deep-seated respect for everyone involved in providing hospitality. It’s a call for all of us to do better and care for the people around us.

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From our community

Hospitality Daily is a community of creators and doers. Some things for today:

  • Colton Davis shares a 1:1 interview with a housekeeper in San Francisco that gives us a first-hand look at what it’s like working in this role

  • Amy Salvago rolled out the red carpet to welcome celebrity chiropractor and acupuncturist Dr. Jeremy Bonsol and Dr. Jenny to take care of their Cameo Beverly Hills VIPs for Day 4 of Housekeeping Appreciation Week

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