One of the outcomes of an anniversary issue is the research process affords us a touch of nostalgia. After all, not only does one recall the industry’s touchstones, but, on a more personal level, the journey back in time is often bittersweet as it’s tinged with reliving one’s past. As we all know, looking back often frames the past in a better light as we tend to forget the challenges that once existed. Interestingly, from an historical perspective, the passage of time sometimes also allows us enough objectivity to examine whether or not the industry has truly grown and evolved. Often, we find that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
At the core of the hospitality industry, one point remains constant: people and service. Sure, trends come and go, but ultimately the hotel industry will never be about anything other than people. Still, looking back over 25 years of history, measured through the evolution of Hotelier magazine itself, it becomes clear that much has indeed changed, both for the magazine and the industry (see story, p. 8).
Ironically, as Hank Stackhouse, outgoing chair of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC), pointed out during his welcome address at this year’s HAC conference, there’s an interesting dichotomy between change and the “sea of sameness” that often exists “in how the industry interacts with our customers, how we deal with our employees and how the government deals with the industry.”
The challenge remains: how do we avoid the pitfalls of that “sea of sameness?” It’s foolish to expect yesterday’s solutions to always work today. That reality was strongly reinforced through the various sessions held during the HAC conference. From the opening session led by Sheryl Connelly, global trends and futuring manager at the Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Company, who touched on some of the most salient macro trends of the day — many of them fuelled by the growth of technology — to the closing session led by Curt Steinhorst, Gen-Yer and certified speaker at the Texas-based Center for Generational Kinetics. The latter illustrated the challenges of employing yesterday’s HR solutions today.
Both speakers illustrated just how prevalent change is in today’s society. “There’s a quiet riot of change taking place,” said Connelly, pointing to her company’s introduction of 20 new products in one year. Similarly, Steinhorst urged hoteliers to change with the times. He told the audience of baby boomers, “It’s a fair expectation that Generation Y should move to you, but there is no incentive to do so.” The young speaker boldly added: you have to adapt to them or risk losing them to someone else.