This is the start of the Slick Talk Written Interview Series where we will sit down with industry leaders from around the world and in different segments of hospitality to understand their perspective on specific topics. Not only will you be able to hear their episodes or features on the show but now, we are going to get a glimpse into their minds as professionals in the industry we love so much.
Kicking this off, we felt that the topic of Leadership was a good fit! We have a list of some amazing thought leaders that we are going to be doing this written series with but if you'd like to be included or have a feature as well, please fill out the contact form here on our website!
How has your view of leadership changed in our industry since the pandemic? Or has it changed at all? If not, why?
"More than ever, leaders were required during the pandemic to step up and provide stability and security to their team. In contrast, organizations needed to become 10x more adaptable to survive through rapidly changing conditions. Companies went from feast to famine, back to feast overnight.
In this fast changing climate, clarity of direction and communication were even more important. The gap between good leadership and bad became very clear.
In our organization, the pandemic provided a great training ground for team members to exercise their own leadership skills. I joke that if our company was an athlete before COVID, now we're a decathlete with a six pack who just ran an ironman while pregnant.
Teams that made it through this difficult time have a huge head start because they've learned to trust themselves and each other in pursuit of the company's mission."
- Margot Schmorak
Do you think guests/travelers see a change in how we lead?
"Not yet. In this global crisis, I believe that travelers are still thinking myopically about travel "how will this be different for me?" and "how do I get what I need on my trip?" I don't think travelers can appreciate the big change that has happened in short term rentals or what that will mean for travel in the long term. But the operators know."
Now, let's hear from Adam...
"We're in an interesting place right now with respect to the staffing difficulties many hotels are facing as we emerge fro the pandemic. It's important to know that this is nothing new. Staffing shortages were pervasive in hospitality long before the pandemic. The difference now is that shortages are larger because so many people were pushed in to the unemployment system instead of being kept at their jobs as a preparation for when things returned to normal.
Now, people have found alternatives and don't want to (or can't) return to their front line jobs. This is in part a failure of leadership - a failure to think about things in a different way. This has exacerbated the problems within the culture of the hospitality industry, which now is manifesting itself in real time at hotels and restaurants across the country. Only time will tell if guests actually see it as a failure of leadership." - Adam Knight
Finally, if you could give an "rising star" some leadership advice that you've learned from your entire career, what would it be and why?
"This industry is immensely rewarding but it will consume you. Be open to new experiences and take advantage of being able to see the world by working for some of the best hotel brands out there. Be as involved as you can be. Talk to people and learn their story. Spend time in every job, even for a day, to understand how things truly work. But at the end of the day, set boundaries and make sure you take time for yourself, your family and friends because that's what truly matters." - Adam Knight
"A big part of leadership is taking the risk to ask a 'dumb' question or push back on the obvious even when it seems socially unacceptable. While I've felt embarrassed doing this a few times, I've always been grateful that I had the courage to ask and find out. Finding out and making mistakes is the fastest way to learn and grow." - Margot Schmorak
Learn More About Our Guests!
Margot is CEO and Co-Founder of Hostfully. She has spent her career working on community-driven products that help businesses and entrepreneurs get closer to their customers. Prior to Hostfully, Margot worked at Apple, leading marketing initiatives for the first iPhone Developer Program before taking the reins at ServiceSource (NASDAQ: SREV) as VP of Marketing and Strategy.
In her free time, Margot is an avid traveler, having visted Yunnan (China), Vinales (Cuba) and Paris. Margot holds an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and a BA in economics from Vassar College. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and three young children.
Adam is the Creator and Host of The Proven Principles Podcast, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Recreation Vacation Rentals and Principal at Knowing Hospitality, a full service hotel management company that operates hotels on behalf of owners and lenders. He brings 25 years experience across luxury brands and independent companies.
A hospitality veteran and operations expert, he has lived and worked all over North America and the Caribbean. He loves the left brain/right brain dichotomy of the hospitality industry. One minute you’re diving into a P&L, the next you’re tasting the new seasonal menu in the restaurant. His passion lies in understanding how things work and making them better, be it small service experiences or large-scale project management.