On April 16, 2009, Roger Bloss, Founder and CEO of Vantage Hospitality Group, was interviewed for a session at the Leadership in Hospitality and Leisure forum. The subject of his interview, which was moderated by Glenn Haussman, Editor-in-Chief of Hotel Interactive, was the balancing of work and home life in the hospitality industry. Bloss began his address with an anecdote about his two young daughters, and how he began his corporate life managing Holiday Inns, deciding for the sake of his daughters that he should work to live, not live to work. This mentality caused Bloss, when he was able to enact policy at a firm, to create a business culture based around the ethos of working to live rather than living to work. In the hotel industry in particular, there was a huge burnout factor, according to Bloss, and he wanted the culture of his firm to account for things like his children’ soccer games and piano recitals: “So we created an environment where you could send, you could send human resources a note, ‘I’m going to my kid’s soccer game.’ ‘I’m going to my daughter’s recital.’ We give them enough personal time off; we give them vacation days; we give them a lot of latitude. And what we have found is that the productivity has just gone through the roof because of that environment.” This company-wide understanding of family and personal events, according to Bloss, bolsters productivity at his firm in an unexpected way. Because employees know that if they should ever need the day or the afternoon off for a personal reason they will be taken care of, their productivity across the board is up.
Listening, to both the customers and the employees at all levels of the corporate chain, is essential for effective leadership, according to Bloss. Creating an adequate customer experience as well as properly training and utilizing the staff of a hotel or entertainment venue creates an effective business model. “We do something that’s very, very unorthodox in the industry. Every single one of our hoteliers has a voice and a vote in the brand. As founder, president, CEO of this company, I allow the members of our hotels and I don’t use the word franchisees as Glenn outlined; we’re a membership organization. So our member hoteliers, they decide everything that we do; from the standards that we create to the properties that we allow into the system, to even the fees that we charge,” said Bloss. According to Bloss, his firm operates in an industry, the only industry that he knows of, where the consumer actually has the ability to set the price. Companies tell the consumers benefits of certain pricing points and allow them to make a decision based on the information provided.