15 Inspirational quotes from hospitality greats

The hospitality business can be a hard slog, but for those who have what it takes, the rewards and recognition that come with success are definitely worth it, not to mention the experience. While some things can only be learnt through hard work and personal experience, learning from those who have succeeded before you is undoubtedly a sound strategy.

We have collected some words of wisdom from a few of the most influential hospitality visionaries of the past two centuries to keep you inspired and reaching for greatness.

isadore-sharp-four-seasons"The reason for our success is no secret. It comes down to one single principle that transcends time and geography, religion and culture. It’s the Golden Rule – the simple idea that if you treat people well, the way you would like to be treated, they will do the same."

Isadore Sharp, Founder, Four Seasons

Prithvi-Raj-Singh-Oberoi"It's not the physical attributes of the hotels, it's not the bricks and mortar, it's our people who have made our hotels known worldwide […] People often ask me 'What is good service?' I'll say without hesitation, good service is how you treat the guest, not the physical attributes you give them in the hotel."

Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi, former Executive Chairman, East India Hotels

sol-kerzner"When the guest arrives, give him an experience that's ahead of what he anticipates. What I'm hoping is that folks come away from [our hotels] having expected something, and come away thinking 'wow, so much better than what we expected to have'."

– Sol Kerzner, Founder, Kerzner International

conrad-hilton"It is wisdom to profit by yesterday's mistakes. It is fatal to hang onto yesterday's victories. You limit yourself. The future should be expanding. Yesterday's experiences are the foundation on which you build today."

– Conrad Hilton, Founder, Hilton Hotels

Sonu-Shivdasani-Co-Founder-Soneva-Resorts"Intelligent luxury is all about thinking about what really is special for our guests, what's different, and to give them a surprise that they are not used to."

Sonu Shivdasani, Co-Founder, Soneva Resorts

isadore-sharp-four-seasons"Never risk what you can't afford to lose, and you can never, ever compromise your trust, because once you lose that you can never get it back. It will take a lifetime to build and minutes to lose."

– Isadore Sharp, Founder, Four Seasons

j-willard-marriot"Some of my remarks may appear to be too detailed, but it's the little things that make the big things possible. The close attention to the fine details of any operation - restaurants, hotels or what-not – makes that operation first class."  

J. Willard Marriott, Founder, Marriott Corporation

"When you motivate 100 000 people you have to do it with moral character and good deeds […] the best PR was for the hotel management to integrate into their community, and the people would want the properties to succeed."

– Barry Sternlicht, Founder, Starwood Capital Group

"Work only a half a day; it makes no difference which half – it can be either the first 12 hours or the last 12 hours."

Kemmons Wilson, Founder, Holiday Inn

j-willard-marriot"I tell our people all the time 'Success is never final', and it isn't, it's a lot easier sometimes to get to the top than it is to stay there."

J. Willard Marriott, Founder, Marriott Corporation

"I'm trying to surprise and delight the guest – now you call it an Instagram moment – does anyone need to take a picture of this? And if you haven't succeeded, then do something different."

Barry Sternlicht, Founder, Starwood Capital Group

isadore-sharp-four-seasons"It takes years of slow work creating a team that are consistent in their values, believe in the philosophy and are prepared to do their work while following the ethical behavior the philosophy implies: Do the right thing, making sure that you don't compromise on the principle in how you treat everybody – your vendors, your customers, your partners, your tradespeople who work there."

Isadore Sharp, Founder, Four Seasons

rocco-forte-2"You can excuse an ugly building if the staff deliver the right service (it's much nicer to have a combination of both things), but the staff at the end of the day are the service. The people who work in the hotel interacting with the guest are creating the product, they are the people who are important, they are the ones who make it happen."

Rocco Forte, Executive Chairman, Rocco Forte Hotels

j-willard-marriot"A man should keep on being constructive, and do constructive things. He should take part in the things that go on in this wonderful world. He should be someone to be reckoned with. He should live life and make every day count, to the very end. Sometimes it's tough. But that's what I'm going to do."

J. Willard Marriott, Founder, Marriott Corporation

sol-kerzner"Perfection in our business is almost impossible, but you have to keep trying."

Sol Kerzner, Founder, Kerzner International


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