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One-on-one Interview with Kimpton Hotels’ Steve Pinetti
One Highlight of HSMAI Annual Leadership Conference


MCLEAN, VA (June 20, 2005) – A look at generational differences, technology challenges, best practices, and an one-on-one interview with Kimpton Hotels’ Steve Pinetti were highlights of the agenda at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) annual Chapter Leadership Forum themed “Picturing the Future” held recently in Portland, Oregon.

“This is the one opportunity each year that HSMAI chapter board members from all across the Americas region meet to learn, network and honor great work from their peers,” states Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI.

Highlights of the forum follow:

“Looking at Generational Differences” was presented by Dr. Lalia Rach, associate dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management, and HVS International Industry professor at New York University.

“Everyone knows there are generational differences in the workplace,” says Rach.  “It’s how you think about them and manage them that counts.  There has been a social transformation – from Ozzie and Harriet to Ozzy and Sharon,” she adds.

Key observations included:

  • Boomers want to be identified; they know they are the lead generation. 
  • The Millennial generation is the most unique generation we’ve ever seen. They have been nurtured beyond belief; the Internet is their medium, and we as an industry don’t get them.  Growing up, Generation X was unsupervised, which is telling in the workplace. They believe that too much loyalty to a company gets them nowhere, so their loyalty is to the people in an organization.  They understand when marketing is a con. Because of the industry’s marketing and sales focus on Boomers, Gen X has been ignored as business consumers. As leisure travelers, they are looking to engage both their minds and bodies.
  • Few in the industry recognize the change in the family today. Gone are the days of family units being only mother, father and kids.  Now it is aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, kids and every mix in between.  Moreover, marketing today must consider reaching out to single person households given they represent more than one-quarter of American households.
  • America is a land of color today.  Minorities will soon be 40% of the population.  If you are not attracting a multicultural consumer then you are losing money.
  • Business is coming back. The question is, will you be sales people or order takers.  The fear is that the industry will stop focusing on customer service and turn back into the order takers they were in early 2000-2002.  The hospitality industry is concerned that brand loyalty will decrease so in order to avoid either problem hoteliers must be loyal to customers and be committed. 
  • If the product is relevant, consumers will come.
  • For the first time, 25% of the population traveled on low-cost carriers. Customer logic is if you spend less traveling you’ll have more to spend at the destination. The major carriers are now charging for everything (movies, Internet access, food, etc.), which does not win friends; this model will not work in the hotel industry. People expect a certain level of service.  Cruise lines are getting it right and giving land destinations a run for their money.
  • More on Gen X: They “work to live” not “live to work”.  As the latch-key kid generation, they were the most unsupervised generation ever and so developed as very self-sufficient adults.  They were the first generation to expect diversity as a fact of life and to fully accept women in positions of power in the workplace.  They operate as free agents, can read others well and like people “who walk the talk.”  They are verbal, globally aware, street smart, process driven, and technically adept.  They need consistent interactions with leaders.  Gen X wants respect for their expertise, loyalty in relationships, and products that are current. 
In an interview with Steve Pinetti, senior vice president, Kimpton Hotels, Bob Wright, president of Vision Marketing and executive director, HSMAI Central Florida, got up close and personal in a one-on-one conversation during Inside the Hospitality Studio.


On Kimpton Hotel Group: “It’s all about the emotional feel of staying with us.  For me, Kimpton is like having 40 kids with 40 personalities.  Our employees are our brand.  I am proud that almost no hotel is being built today that doesn’t copy us in some way in design and environment.”

On the product: “We are now focused on what the hotel room of the future will look like and how will it work.  We are looking at how technology is evolving to improve the customer experience.  Perhaps we will soon have a smart card that carries information on a guest’s preferences.”

On success: “What drives me is the attitude to win.  Your destiny is in your own hands. “If I don’t recreate myself every once in a while, the world will run right over me.”

On the discipline: “The days of a single-property sales force are going away.  Today we’re clustering.  If you are a good listener, you can communicate with anyone.  I thought I would go into politics and ended up going into sales, which is basically the same thing.”

Other sessions included:

  • The Dichotomy of Education presented by Mike Hampton, Ed.D., president and CEO, HSA Internatio
  • Guest Speaker, Cindy R. Novotny, managing partner, Master Connection Associates, on “It Takes Guts to be Great.” 
  • Workshops on Picturing the Director of Sales for the Future and Picturing the Director of Marketing for the Future facilitated by Lalia Rach, Ed.D.
  • A Best Practice Workshop with roundtable discussions moderated by Barb Taylor Carpender, managing director, HSMAI University.
  • Take Back Control of Your Email - Time Management of Your Outlook Files! with Pam Streeter, vice president distribution, Interstate Hotels and chapter president, Washington DC chapter and Jim Struna, national accounts manager, Hotwire.
  • Chapter winners of the “Best Practices Competition” in nine categories for both large and small chapters were honored at the Frank W. Berkman Chapter Awards Dinner.
Chapter leaders attending the Forum gave it the highest rating ever: 9.3 out of 10.

HSMAI is an organization of sales and marketing professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and members at 15 annual events. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising nearly 7,000 members worldwide, with 38 chapters in the Americas region.

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McLean, VA 22102
phone (703) 610-9024
Also See: Kimpton Hotels Mission is to Lead the Hospitality Industry in Supporting a Sustainable World / April 2005
The Best Survival Strategy in Hospitality Is the Proactive Strategy / Max Starkov and Lalia Rach / Oct 2001

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