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Creating A Culture of Belonging To Enable Consistent Individuality

with Bill Walshe

Together with

Today we’re learning about:

  • Creating a culture of belonging

  • “Unprescribed hospitality”

  • Words to live by

  • …and much more

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Creating A Culture of Belonging To Enable Consistent Individuality

with Bill Walshe

Do you want to attract talented people, and not only keep them in your organization but keep them happy and effective in delighting your guests and customers?

Our guest today, Bill Walshe, is a global hospitality leader and the former CEO of The Viceroy Hotel Group. Today, he’s helping others in hospitality as a board member and strategic advisor - and today, you’ll learn why the answer to the question above lies in belonging.

Shifting from satisfaction to belonging

Traditionally, the focus of the hospitality industry has been on satisfaction: both for guests and employees. However, Bill emphasizes the need to move beyond mere satisfaction and instead foster a sense of belonging.

I don't know about you, but I don't often use “satisfied” when I'm a human being talking to other human beings. If I'm out for dinner, I don't say, “Are you satisfied with the food?” It's, “Are you having a good time? Do you love it? Are you happy that you're here?”

By creating an environment where everyone feels they belong, irrespective of their differences, we can create a positive and inclusive culture.

What I'm seeing occur not only in our industry, but in general, is this progression from this concept of the holy grail of culture being satisfaction to it being belonging. Ultimately, I think that the objective of any culture in any organization is to create an environment in which everybody feels that they belong, irrespective of the idiosyncratic differences that exist between us.

I think now more than ever, the obligation on hospitality leaders is recognizing that our industry is the single largest employer in the world. That's a huge opportunity to create positive global cultural growth, but it's also a huge obligation on us to lead our businesses in the right way. So irrespective of race, religious belief, nationality, identity, an organization has to create a culture which is robust enough that there's enough for any individual to connect with an element that is sufficient for them to say, I belong.

This shift is crucial, especially in today's world where people are more likely to leave than ever if they don't feel respected and that they belong.

Words matter

Bill highlights the power of language in shaping our interactions and experiences. He challenges hospitality leaders to banish the word "fine" from their vocabulary, as it represents mediocrity. Instead, he encourages us to use words that evoke pride and meaningful conversations.

I'll give you an example of how you can do that. If you're the general manager of a hotel, and you're walking down a corridor, and you see a member of the housekeeping team walk towards you, perhaps that person's name is Fred. And you say, “Morning, Fred. How are you?” And Fred will look at you and go, “Morning, Mr. Walshe. Yeah, I'm fine.” And everybody moves on. And there has been zero change to anybody's life from that robotic, practiced, muscle-memory conversation.

We need to ban in hospitality the acceptance of the word “fine.” It's a profanity. It's a four letter F-word profanity that's even worse than the one you're thinking about now. Fine is the utter expression of mediocrity and hospitality. And if we ever accept that something is fine, we shouldn't be in this business. So in order to change that, insert one word. Walk down the corridor, you see Fred from housekeeping. “Morning, Fred!” Not, not how are you? “Morning, Fred. How proud are you?”

Fred will stop, think you're a lunatic, but think about an answer, and it will lead to a conversation. One word has changed a complete waste of time into conversation, that something might fundamentally change the way that business operates based on input you're likely to receive from a front line colleague.

By asking better questions, we can spark deeper connections and uncover valuable insights from our teams and guests.

Hospitality for all

Bill emphasizes the importance of extending hospitality not only to guests but also to our colleagues and team members. He believes that there should be no distinction in how we treat and engage with individuals based on their role or label.

The guest is a colleague who's not working. A colleague is a guest who also has a day job.

Whether it's a guest or a colleague, the commitment to being a caring host, embracing authenticity, and celebrating individuality should remain consistent. By aligning our approach to hospitality, we can attract talented team members and create exceptional experiences for our guests.

As leaders in the hospitality industry, it's crucial for us to challenge complacency and prioritize the sense of belonging of our teams.

 Listen to our full conversation here now to learn how to do this.

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