Putting people first in the hospitaliy industry

May 17, 2024 •

5 min reading

Why hospitality businesses win by putting people first - A mindset shift

Written by

In the hospitality industry, success lies in the ability to integrate strategic business practices with the unique demands of the sector. A people-centric approach should be at the heart of everything you do, both in terms of delighting your guests and attracting and retaining the best talent. However, all too often, the demands of running a business can get in the way.

In this article, we explore the key challenges hospitality businesses face and the strategies they can implement to align corporate culture and human values. We also discuss some of the benefits they can achieve by successfully navigating the transformation to become a human-centric business.


What is a people-first culture?

Many business professionals in the 21st century share a powerful philosophy: putting people first leads not only to business growth but also to growth for their customers, employees, investors, and society.

They understand that to overcome the many obstacles that organizations face and achieve their long-term goals, they must cultivate a transformative mentality that combines human values with corporate objectives. According to a report by Accenture, 89% of C-suite leaders acknowledge the importance of embedding this combination right at the heart of their business.

In the past, business leaders would determine their strategies by analyzing historical data and adapting their benchmarks according to the circumstances of the day. However, we now live in a world of constant disruption, where employees and customers have unrivaled choices and opportunities to make their demands known. These are very human challenges, and the only way to solve them is through strategies that are founded on human connections and behaviors. By being more human-centric, businesses can better adapt to their challenges and capitalize on the opportunities that arise.

MBA in Hospitality  Apply new strategies and tools in the workplace  Designed to accommodate busy hospitality professionals, our MBA in hospitality  is delivered 80% online  Discover

What does human-centered mean in an organization and how does it look like?

A human-centered organization is one that genuinely focuses on the humans who are at the heart of what a business does. The first step in this process is to reconceptualize the groups they serve. These groups vary from business to business, but broadly speaking, there are three categories:

  • Employees - A human-centered organization cares as much about the experience of its teams as it does about its customers. This leadership approach prioritizes their engagement and well-being and focuses on making them feel a sense of company ownership.
  • Customers - Despite being critical to their success, many businesses fail to prioritize the needs, preferences, and experiences of their customers. Human-centered organizations are committed to creating better human experiences, and this is particularly relevant in the hospitality industry. Putting customers first consistently yields organizational benefits, such as enhanced brand loyalty and credibility.
  • Communities - The wider impact organizations have on the communities and environments they operate in has historically been ignored, but now environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures are increasingly coming to the fore.

Why take a human-first approach?

Having a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to your stakeholders can help you connect more deeply with your employees and adjust to the demands of your customers. Ultimately, that can enable you to respond to threats more quickly and drive long-term profitability.

Empowered employees are key to translating your boardroom vision into action at the frontline and enhancing the customer experience. You must undergo a human-centered leadership transformation that focuses your operational activities and innovation around these people. Although technological advances have made it easier to understand different stakeholders on an individual basis, meeting and fulfilling the needs of these groups can be complicated and uncertain.

However, according to research by IBM, the challenge is worth the reward. When compared against traditional business metrics, human-centered organizations:

Building a human-centered organization

  • Deliver outcomes to the market twice as quickly
  • Have 32% higher revenues than traditional businesses
  • Outperform the S&P 500 by 211%

Combining human values with corporate objectives in the hospitality industry - what challenges?

For most organizations, becoming genuinely human-centric requires a mindset shift. That’s particularly the case in hospitality, where an increasingly complex and fast-paced environment is dominated by a transactional mindset.

As a customer-centric industry, the hospitality industry faces several key challenges in the race to become more human-centric. Firstly, the pace of disruption is greater than it has ever been before, with new technology and disruptive new business models bringing the need to constantly innovate. Secondly, hospitality businesses face unique challenges in regard to employee satisfaction and retention because the customer comes first, sometimes at the expense of employee wellbeing.

These factors make it difficult for hospitality businesses to determine how to allocate or re-distribute their human, financial, and technological resources. Consequently, 70% of the C-suite, including many hospitality CEOs, already recognize that their traditional growth strategies are obsolete.

Customer expectations are also changing. Increasingly, they want to buy from brands that align with their values, whether it’s wellness, sustainability, diversity, or any other core value that influences decision-making. That’s why hospitality companies need to rethink what they’re selling. It’s no longer about features and benefits on a surface level. Instead, consumers are looking for the personal meaning behind their spending and the happiness, fulfillment, and connection it brings to their lives.

Another challenge that’s particularly relevant to the hospitality industry is the dwindling level of trust. 90% of customers only buy from organizations they trust, and 80% only buy from businesses that act on client feedback. Customers and employees want organizations to be more transparent, so those that deliver human-centric products and information are more likely to succeed.


Designed to accommodate busy hospitality professionals, delivered 80% online

As a student of the MBA in hospitality, you will benefit from a holistic learning experience that combines online courses with three weeks of campus-based learning.