Culture Enables The Best Type of Hospitality To Spread

with Bashar Wali, CEO at Practice Hospitality

I’m back from the Labor Day holiday, and excited for what’s ahead for us this Fall. Steve Turk invited me onto The Hospitality Mentor podcast today and I shared not only the backstory behind this community but how we can all learn and grow together.

It's going to take something special to succeed this Fall (and beyond).

Bashar Wali knows this as a hotel operator and investor that 180,000 people follow on LinkedIn alone. In his experience, culture is the key to spreading the very best in hospitality - and today, we’re learning what he’s learned about what it takes to create and cultivate the right culture in your organization.

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Culture Enables The Best Type of Hospitality To Spread

with Bashar Wali, CEO, Practice Hospitality

Bashar Wali // Credit: Practice Hospitality

Bashar Wali is one of the most recognized names in hospitality because he's done it all - as a leading operator, investor, and hotel branding expert that 180,000 people follow on LinkedIn alone. He's also an outspoken advocate for the importance of hospitality experiences being led by people and for people. Today, we're learning how he thinks about providing human-centric hospitality at scale through organizational culture.

Defining Organizational Culture

When asked to define what organizational culture means to him, Bashar leans into the concept of 'Why' popularized by Simon Sinek.

"Once you understand what your goal is and are able to sort of convey that message through the organization and through that culture of the organization, I think that's the win," he said.

Hospitality: A Passion, Not Just a Job

Bashar believes hospitality isn't a job for everyone, especially those looking for a routine 9-5 gig. "If you really just want a job, hospitality is a terrible job. You work nights and weekends and get paid s****. But if you love it and want to excel in it and are willing to pay your dues, you'll get there," he adds.

"It has to be a passion. Hospitality is not just a job.”

The Essence of True Hospitality

Bashar references an old Middle Eastern saying as the epitome of hospitality:

"When a stranger shows up at your door, feed him for three days before you ask him who he is, where he's from, and where he's going to. Because by then he'll either have the strength to answer or you'll be such good friends it won't matter."

"Literally, that is hospitality. If you understand the meaning of that quote and can live by it, that's the culture you want to create. It's a culture of care and empathy."

The Power of Passion and Human Connection

Bashar believes that the most successful hospitality brands have people behind them that others can connect with.

He gave examples like Chip Conley of Joi de Vivre, Liz Lambert of Bunkhouse Hotels, and Bill Kimpton, highlighting how their passion sets them apart.

"To me, this has always been something that's hard to fake.”

In a world where hospitality experiences too often seem robotic and impersonal, Bashar gives us a reminder that at the heart of hospitality is people—both those serving and those being served.

Organizational culture, to him, is less about checklists and more about cultivating an environment where emotional intelligence and passion for others are rewarded.

Because when that happens, "the rest is easy."

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