In a video interview, the former Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide CEO talks about what will keep hotel brands relevant in the future, and his thoughts on the long-term prospects for his former company’s brands.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee—Former Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide CEO Frits van Paasschen’s passion is finding ways to innovate in the face of disruption, a message he shared with attendees of the 2017 Hotel Data Conference.
In a video interview with Hotel News Now, van Paasschen elaborated on some specific ways the international hospitality industry is dealing with macroeconomic trends, and how hoteliers can better position themselves to innovate. He even shared his opinions on the long-term fate of his former company’s hotel brands.
Some of the highlights:
- The capital-intensive nature of hotel companies is a hindrance: “We have a lot of people; we’re inherently global organizations, even if we have a small number of hotels,” he said. “Making change and keeping pace is a real challenge … but I think hotels still have a real opportunity to make you feel special and recognized when you come in.”
- Some brands will endure; some will not: “Brands still matter, but they have to stay relevant,” he said. “The brands that are going to succeed are the (ones) that deliver personalization, that give you that sense of space, that give you that ‘aha’ moment, that make you glad you showed up—all of those things that are basic hospitality translated into a digital age. … Brands that are generic are going to disappear. Not tomorrow and not in 10 years, but over time, they’ll be in a steady, painful decline.”
- The former Starwood’s brands are in good hands: Van Paasschen said that while having 30 brands now might be a challenge for Marriott International, it’s not unprecedented for global organizations to manage multiple brands well. “I think that as long as Marriott invests in a tech platform that keeps people staying in their program, and they keep each brand distinctive and compelling and they leverage their scale, Starwood’s brands could be in a very good place,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to watch.”
Van Paasschen’s overarching message for hoteliers is to always embrace change.
“However you do your job today, just assume there’s someone, somewhere doing what you do in a different way—probably enabled by technology—that’s going to be better than the way you’ve been doing this,” he said. “Have that mindset that says, ‘No matter what I’m doing today and how successful I’ve been, the seeds of my failure tomorrow are the belief that the way I’m doing it today is the way I should keep doing it.’”