Anyone who reads this column knows that I am a big fan of lists. In the past, I have referenced Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women; the Fortune 500 Annual Ranking of Americas Largest Corporations; and Working Mother magazine’s Best Places to Work. Now, it’s the June 2012 edition of Fast Company featuring its annual 100 Most Creative People in Business rankings that caught my eye.
For those not familiar, Fast Company is a business publication with an edge, providing executives a different twist on the facts, data and analysis they rely on to accomplish their goals. As a side note: I had the pleasure a few years back to meet Bill Taylor, the publication’s cofounder and founding editor, when he was the keynote speaker at an event I attended in Vail, CO. He had just written, “Mavericks at Work—Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win.”
The progressive publications’s top100 ranking is described as “A celebration of business innovators who dare to think differently. The ones taking risks and discovering surprising new solutions to old problems.” This year’s lineup is a diverse group of executives representing multiple areas of business, including retail, consumer products and the world of entertainment—people such as JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson (#4); entertainer Cee Lo Green (#5); Sarah Robb O’Hagen, president of Gatorade (#24); and Deborah Borda, the Los Angeles’ Philharmonic CEO (#50) are on the list.
So, do you know where I’m going with this? I’m sure you do. The hotel industry is not represented on this list. One can take this a number of ways: First, was there no person from our ranks worthy of consideration? As an industry, were we overlooked? Or could it be that our industry wasn’t represented because we are in transition?
The early 1990s were a time of change for the hospitality marketplace, and it was when the new breed of hotelier emerged. Previous to this time, the lion’s hare of properties was company owned, with only a few brands using franchising as a growth strategy. As the hotel segment became more of a real estate play, in came the likes of Barry Sternlicht, Steve Bollenbach and Henry Silverman, just to name a few. They were dealmakers, and each, in their own way, changed the way hotel development was done.
Similar to the 1990s, we seem to be in transition. I have a hunch the prolonged economic downturn has forced us to be more focused on “blocking and tackling” rather than spending significant time thinking outside of the proverbial box. By no means am I implying that the hotel industry doesn’t have an abundance of world-class creative talent, nor do I feel that, as an industry, we were singled out by Fast Company. I do believe, however, as an industry, we have not spent a lot of time “tooting our own horn” on some of the wonderful accomplishments we have realized over the past few years.
It’s time to start bragging and get the message out that the hospitality industry is as creative as any other. With most indicators pointing towards a robust turnaround, budgets for technology and design should start to increase, which means lots of ideas can now be executed that may have been put on the back burner. I suggest that the editors of Fast Company leave plenty of space in next year’s list for us.