Peo­ple First, Guest Cen­tered

Kimp­ton Ho­tels & Restau­rants’ SVP of op­er­a­tions Nick Gregory gets down to the phi­los­o­phy of hos­pi­tal­ity

Business Traveler (USA) - - UPFRONT -

BT: How would you char­ac­ter­ize Kimp­ton’s es­sen­tial qual­i­ties?

Gregory: In 1981 Bill Kimp­ton opened his first ho­tel and restau­rant in San Fran­cisco, the Bed­ford Ho­tel and Café Bed­ford. Bill was a pioneer who be­lieved that the bou­tique ex­pe­ri­ence was all about cre­at­ing stays that felt like vis­it­ing some­one’s liv­able and stylish home. An­other key dif­fer­en­tia­tor was his pas­sion for the restau­rant busi­ness. From the start, he knew he wasn’t out to cre­ate a typ­i­cal“ho­tel restau­rant.”

As guest pref­er­ences, tech­nol­ogy and the way we travel change, it’s that gen­uine, guest­driven ex­pe­ri­ence that will con­tinue to de­fine Kimp­ton’s hos­pi­tal­ity phi­los­o­phy.

BT: How did you come to your role at Kimp­ton?

Gregory: Kimp­ton is com­mit­ted to a“growth from within”ap­proach that truly val­ues peo­ple, not just core com­pe­ten­cies. Over 25 years ago, they were re­cruit­ing em­ploy­ees for the Kimp­ton Ho­tel Vin­tage in Port­land. I started as a door­man at that ho­tel and never looked back.

What I al­ways share is the im­por­tance of be­ing will­ing to take risks. There are open doors that might not be as clearly laid out at first glance. I wouldn’t be where I am to­day if I hadn’t raised my hand for po­si­tions that re­quired cross-coun­try

moves or joined a team that was just be­ing built from the ground up. I en­cour­age our teams to step out­side of their “reg­u­lar jobs”to do things they’re pas­sion­ate about.

BT: How has hos­pi­tal­ity changed over your years in the busi­ness?

Gregory: There’s a broader spec­trum of trav­el­ers out there and there’s more choice than ever be­fore. Trav­el­ers are more self-reliant in this dig­i­tal age. Book­ing apps, travel re­view sites, and new com­pa­nies com­ing onto the scene mean they’re fac­ing count­less op­tions. What we need to do as hote­liers is to main­tain a level of trust with our guests and pro­vide value through mem­o­rable stays.

BT: What is Kimp­ton do­ing to set it­self apart in a hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try that’s get­ting more crowded all the time?

Gregory: Kimp­ton dis­tin­guishes it­self by re­main­ing true to its roots. Yes, we’re see­ing a lot of com­pa­nies and life­style brands that are jump­ing into the bou­tique ho­tel busi­ness. Our com­peti­tors can recre­ate a sig­na­ture style and hip ho­tel, but they’re still of­ten for­mu­laic. Bou­tique means tak­ing an an­thro­po­log­i­cal ap­proach and a close look at each mar­ket with a fresh lens. There’s no Kimp­ton“in a box” and never will be.

The key to our suc­cess is in how we em­power our em­ploy­ees. Ev­ery­one – from the bell­hop to the GM – is free to be them­selves and act from their hearts to make our guests’ stays mem­o­rable and mean­ing­ful. There’s no rule­book that out­lines heart-cen­tered care; it’s in­nate in the peo­ple we hire.

BT: Tech­nol­ogy and the shar­ing econ­omy are re­ally rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing hos­pi­tal­ity. How does Kimp­ton’s phi­los­o­phy fit in?

Gregory: The shar­ing econ­omy has been around for as long as peo­ple have shared and opened the doors to their homes. It’s not a zero-sum game. The rea­son why bou­tique hos­pi­tal­ity is gain­ing trac­tion is be­cause we al­low our guests to em­bark on uniquely lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences. That lo­cal­first ap­proach isn’t a new con­cept for Kimp­ton. Since 1981, ev­ery Kimp­ton ho­tel has been de­signed to fit seam­lessly into its sur­round­ings and com­mu­nity.

So­cial me­dia has helped us ex­tend the guest ex­pe­ri­ence with re­al­time, en­gag­ing con­tent and con­ver­sa­tions. And we’re thought­ful about the tech­nol­ogy that we in­tro­duce on prop­erty. Tech­nol­ogy should am­plify our per­sonal, heart­felt ap­proach – not de­tract from it. That said, we be­lieve tech­nol­ogy and au­toma­tion can’t re­place those au­then­tic one-onone in­ter­ac­tions we have with our guests. It’s that guest ex­pe­ri­ence that truly de­fines hos­pi­tal­ity.You can’t re­move peo­ple from the equa­tion.

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