In a recent interview, Duncan O’Rourke of Kempinski Hotels & Resorts has outlined the key three strategies his company is implementing within a five – six year period: talent, innovation and Food and Beverage.
With the Food and Beverage strategy, he said “We are going to move from a rooms-driven company to food & beverage-driven company with rooms, which fits our history and tradition as restaurateurs”. Kempinski has been hiring well known chefs and other specialists to create workshops that are held in every hotel. New ideas and concepts arise and are shared all the time, as well as specialties from noted bakers and chocolatiers.
The company’s innovation strategy comes from competition within the company. Hotels, supported by workshops, are tasked with creating innovative ideas. These are then presented and voted upon at the annual Manager’s meeting. Due to the group dynamics and gestation period (a year), participants very much own that effort (and idea).
The third strategy, talent, is approached sensibly and certainly differently than many other hotel companies. Firstly, the Human Resources hierarchy is not traditional (as directed by a VP of HR). Instead, Kempinski has established three independent entities within the function: VP of Talent, VP of Training and Education and VP of People Administration.
The need to hire the right people is critical, so once a year they bring all the hotel managers and everyone who seeks employment with Kempinski (hotel schools, middle management, and the like) together in one place. You have the talent there, the information is fresh and the decision makers are present. Job offers are made on the spot at this Career Day – the most recent of which was held last month in Munich, Germany.
As another example of doing things differently, they have done away with annual, written, formalized Evaluations for Management. This effort has been replaced by a two hour conversation with department heads. No boxes, no matrices, just dialogue – quite a deviation from what most of us do.
On the brand, Mr. O’Rourke noted, “Kempinski is the oldest luxury hotel brand, established in 1897, and we have decided to align the number of hotels with our age, so eventually we will have around 120-122 hotels, but that is it”. So many other companies run from “top down”, are captured by the “numbers”, scrambling to bring the most properties on-line. It is good to see a hotel company sufficiently confident to try another track yet remain quite distinctive and still deliver on.
adapted from Elite Traveller
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