STORY BY SANDRA HERNANDEZ
Hilton is a global company that leverages and exports great ideas in every part of the world – making them relevant to the customers all the time, says Hilton Worldwide’s Head of Sales-Europe, Philippe Garnier.
HEAD OF SALES, EUROPE
How does Hilton reinvent itself to remain relevant to the industry?
The advantage that we have over the last couple of years is that we have had such a commitment at the highest level of the company to innovation. Innovation can be in the technology space or within our brands. So if we start within our brands, we have 10 brands and until a few years ago, most of these brands were not seen outside the Americas. But now, we have taken many of these extraordinary brands to the rest of the world. That’s a kind of innovation when we export these great brands to the rest of the world. The innovation also comes from making sure that we don’t just take a cookie cutter model, i.e., lifting the way a brand is in one country — for example in Europe and America, and then put them in Singapore and China the same way. We make sure that the brand is relevant for the region.
Some examples can be in our focus service, where we have Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn, which are two brands that are very big in Europe and the Americas and that we are now starting to bring to this part of the world because of all the opportunity of growth. We make sure that Hilton Garden Inn or Hampton Inn is created in a way that it resonates in China or in Singapore or wherever else we take it.
With the competition among hotel properties, how do you differentiate yourself?
The key differentiator is the human impact. This means training, hiring and retaining the right talent to win those moments of truth for the customer every time. We must be very clear in understanding what the guest wants when he or she visits this brand. We must understand the kind of different experience a guest wants if they come for leisure or for business.
The key to the success is to always over deliver what the guest wants. This comes with extraordinary people. Therefore, we do training; we have the Hilton College which is basically an internal school to make sure that we train our teams and our individual team members to be the best that they can be.
It also means that we are never shy to look around the region on who does a great job in any industry to deliver great service and potentially learn from them. Then, it is to have a good retention strategy for the great people we have.
So you must hire the right people, ensure that they are trained to the best capability that they can be, and then you must always be willing to look around, not just within the hotel industry but in the region.
And you check on best practices everywhere?
Whoever does extraordinary service, you must love (to) copy him/her to make it relevant for your brand and you must always make sure that you over deliver on your promise.
Great companies who have great customer service start from the top and we have a CEO, Chris Nassetta, who is very committed to the culture and to the training of our people that is part of our DNA. So culture must be, one, always over deliver on what you promise. There is a high investment and focus within the company from the CEO down to make sure that we train or equip our people to be the best that they can be.
Finally, we try to cross-pollinate talent or cross-pollinate ideas. Because we are the fastest growing hotel company in the world, we can move our talent around the world to make sure that the DNA and the culture of who we are gets replicated to the rest of the world. You retain people a lot easier when they know you care for them and if they know you have a great product. So if you have lots of new openings, great aspirational brands,
and a very clear commitment from the top of the company to invest in our people, those make up a nice formula for success.