Viceroy Hotel Group CEO Bill Walshe has adopted a culture of pride for his organization that starts from the top and filters to employees and guests alike.
Editor’s note: Click here for the full transcript of Hotel News Now’s interview with Viceroy Hotel Group CEO Bill Walshe.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Corporate culture—particularly leadership culture—is important to Bill Walshe, CEO of Viceroy Hotel Group since 2012.
Under the Viceroy Hotel Group umbrella, the company has nine Viceroy-branded hotels open, with projects underway in Algarve, Portugal; Vietnam; Istanbul; Serbia; Panama and Buenos Aires.
The company also manages four non-Viceroy-branded hotels in San Francisco.
For Walshe, defining a corporate culture that emphasizes the company’s spirit, passion and beliefs helps it relate to guests who want the same things.
In a conversation with Hotel News Now at the recent South American Hotel Investment Conference, Walshe not only discussed the company’s growth plans but also how its concept of corporate culture factors into every move it makes.
What travelers want
With Viceroy Hotels & Resorts-branded properties operating globally in destinations including New York; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and St. Lucia, the luxury brand is small, but Walshe said its size makes it able to anticipate seamlessly what guests want, something that can be difficult for the fickle and changing luxury traveler.
“What we need for modern luxury hospitality experiences is the ability to fuse consistency and individuality,” he said. “The emerging traveler is looking for something which is beyond the norm. … Every hotel has to be one-of-a-kind. Everyone has to have a sense of connection to destination and community. Yet you have to have the underlying consistency in your operating processes and in your sales, marketing and distribution platforms to be successful in doing what you do.”
With a group Viceroy’s size, Walshe said he can create enough process to do things well behind the scenes without “suffocating the spontaneity and the energy and the individuality that the modern hotel guest is looking for.”
Here’s more from Walshe about what that guest looks for today in a luxury stay:
For Walshe, being able to anticipate guest needs and serve them thoughtfully comes down to leadership.
“My sole purpose is to make people proud,” he said. “If I make my colleagues proud, turnover decreases, absenteeism decreases, productivity increases, and it’s a much more fun place to be. If our guests are proud, boy, do they tell other people.”
Listen to Walshe further describe his role as “chief pride officer” in the company:
Company culture and ideology
Walshe believes he’s worked hard to build a strong corporate culture through his leadership. Most importantly, he said, is that the company’s ideology doesn’t just live on a piece of paper, but is something employees take pride in and show in their daily lives.
For Walshe, that ideology is a statement he created accidentally for his first senior leadership meeting after joining the company in 2012.
“I thought (it would be good) to try to articulate what I had found evident in the company—the spirit, the passion, the behaviors, the beliefs—and to put those across in a series of both commitment and challenge statements,” he said. “We started to use it throughout the company, and now I use it all the time. It’s the heartbeat of the company. Every word is meant. Every word is activated throughout the organization.”
(Earlier this year, Walshe spoke on the topic of his ideology of pride on the TedxWilmington stage.)
“It’s about giving the confidence to our colleagues to allow their humanity to be expressed in the interaction with the guests,” he said. “We will never be a hotel company that scripts individuals. … We want spontaneity, we want it to be natural, and we want it to be real. We want conversations to happen. Life should be a series of conversations, not presentations.”
Here’s more from Walshe on how the travel experience should be guided by conversations:
Walshe’s take on disruptors
“Disruption without purpose, as I say, is pointless,” Walshe said.
He referred to companies that “try to be disruptive for the sake of disruption” as reacting to a problem without having a real reason driving it.
Listen for more on Walshe’s views about how hotel companies can disrupt with purpose: