Creating a company culture in all-sized hotels


by Monique Roy Chuney

If you buy into the concept that company culture is like the operating system of a company, businesses that succeed in the next 10 to 20 years are the ones that successfully create, align, and get employees to buy in to their company culture.

Successful companies worldwide recognize the value of creating and communicating a company culture. The same goes for the hotel industry, whether a small boutique hotel or a large chained-brand hotel. Since hotel employees serve people, your customers get a sense of what your business is like the minute they set foot in the door.f you buy into the concept that company culture is like the operating system of a company, businesses that succeed in the next 10 to 20 years are the ones that successfully create, align, and get employees to buy in to their company culture.

What is a company culture and how does it affect the workplace?

Experts say culture is a company’s personality, it defines the environment in which employees work. Company culture includes a shared set of beliefs and values, especially work environment, company mission, ethics, expectations, and goals. Your core values actually define your hotel, from the outside to the inside.

Of course, employees tend to enjoy work and be more productive when their needs and values are consistent with those in the workplace. Positive corporate culture fosters collaboration, teamwork, and loyalty. Employees need to live the culture, day in and day out. Those who fit into their company’s culture do their best work and serve customers with excellence.

Staff turnover is a challenge in the hospitality industry. Happy employees are on average 31 percent more productive, according to Forbes. What should be even more compelling for hospitality managers is this: They also found that companies that successfully engage their employees can reduce their turnover rate by 54 percent.

Once the culture is in place, it can drive how you hire, how you work with customers, and how you spend your time creating new services or even building new hotels.

Why is creating a company culture important?

A hotel is made up of several departments with different functions, including the front office, housekeeping, accounting, maintenance, sales, human resources, and food and beverage. Each of these areas has its own individual daily tasks, but all share common values and expectations.

“Having one shared vision for the entire staff helps the property stay focused, so it stays on track of accomplishing its goals,” says Alex Kramer, president of Elite Hotel Management and Consulting Group. “Creating a company culture will sustain and develop the business moving forward.”

How does a hotel or multiple hotels create a company culture?

Define and uphold your culture

First, agree on a common definition for culture and define your hotel’s core values. It’s important to clarify how you conduct business and interact with each other.

“Ultimately, the culture is created by the ownership and upper management,” Kramer says. “Once there is agreement on the mission, it can then be taught to the rest of the staff.” Kramer also explains that actions speak louder than words, so it’s important for owners and operators to be role models. If they treat employees, guests, and vendors with respect, so will their team.

Establish a vision

You can easily forget the business you’re in if everyone doesn’t rally around your vision. Hotels are in the business of serving customers. It shouldn’t matter what your role is – CEO, housekeeper, or anybody in between – everyone in the organization should be focused on the vision you set in place. It’s important for hotel executives to ensure that that resonates.

Hire people who can uphold your vision

Find and hire people who can commit to your hotel’s values and the service culture your hotel represents. In order to establish a great company culture, hire the right people – people with good attitudes who can serve the customer with a positive and friendly tone.


When you hire people who fit well with your culture, you’re more likely to secure a long-term commitment from them. But there’s more you can do to engage people with the mission of your organization. If your company believes in continuous service improvement, for example, then inspire them by practicing continuous improvement at all levels of the organization.

For example, Marriott International follows the adage, “Take care of associates and they will take care of the customers.” That is Marriott’s founder’s philosophy, and it has made Marriott International a desirable place to work.

Align your people

Creating a culture takes intense work, and the alignment of all employees from the ground up – from the housekeeper to the CEO. The alignment of all the people involved takes immense effort. Your alignment should focus around the principles of who you are, how you behave, and what your most important priorities are.

Businesses that centralize too much decision making in one place, wherever that may be, are going to struggle. But having those principles – the mission, vision, values, and what those key priorities are – well established and having people aligned around them is critical.

Disperse decision-making

Trust your teams on the ground and on the front line to have the knowledge and information to make good decisions to serve your customers, and ultimately, propel the business.

Offer rewards

“Perks reward team members who go above and beyond to exemplify the hotel’s vision,” Kramer says. “Examples can range from solving a difficult problem for a guest to picking up trash around the hotel. Perks can help instill the corporate culture, but bonuses and incentives should be based primarily on overall job performance.”

Communication keeps everyone informed and engaged

Communication is crucial whether it is a small hotel or a large convention property.

“With many people performing various tasks in various departments, everyone should have a common goal of taking care of the customers,” Kramer says. “In order to truly accomplish this, the team must work together and communicate constantly. The last thing you and your team want is for something to be forgotten or slip through the cracks. It doesn’t take long for a disgruntled guest to go online and share this with the rest of the world.”

A simple way to keep everyone up to speed with the happenings around the hotel is to have a periodic team meeting weekly, monthly, or whatever works best. Sometimes, it’s too hard logistically to hold team meetings, so you could find a space to share news online. Email announcements are great, or perhaps you could create your own hotel internal website. Encourage people to share news or other relevant information with the rest of the team, and a stronger hotel culture will follow.

Challenges behind creating a company culture

Kramer says it’s easy to educate associates about a company’s mission and goals as part of the orientation process when they are first hired; however, it cannot stop there. Continuous training should occur in all departments, as this constant reinforcement will ensure that the company culture is at the top of everyone’s mind.

The true worth of a company culture

A hotel with the right staff that truly understands the goals and vision of ownership and management creates an environment where people feel like they are part of the team. Staff will have a sense of belonging, which in turn creates a happier, more productive work environment. If the employees are happy, they will make your guests happy. A smile is a powerful weapon, enriching those who receive them. You likely will land some great reviews in return.


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