Tuesday, 11 June 2013

148 Is The New 100

We have witnessed great excitement and activities this week in relation to our double celebrations of our birthday and innovation festival.

Our heritage of 148 years really does set us apart from any other global hospitality brand

Langham was the first to bring luxury on a grand hotel scale to the world. We should never tire of communicating this to the world. The courage of the investors and colleagues 150 years ago must have shone brightly and that is why we bring our innovation festival and birthday week together into the same celebration.
I have detailed ten thoughts we all agreed on innovation last year. These thoughts and the actions they create are fundamental to get innovation moving in your organization.

1.     Innovation is new stuff made useful.

2.     Leaders get the Innovation they deserve! Moreover, Innovation has to be lead, planned and budgeted for.

3.     A beautiful idea is never perfect. The initial idea may need some work, be patient and work with a concept, even if it is not yours.

4.     Cut Innovation some slack. How can we develop more time to get creative? How do we cut out admin and not so useful reporting?

5.     Great Innovation deserves a great name! Each and every one! That will help us market the new stuff made useful.

6.     Automate the predictable so we can humanize the exceptional.

7.     Fiascoes are OK. Sometimes a new idea just may not work. That's OK - it's how we positively communicate this message and embrace mistakes that are important.

8.     How do we free our front line colleagues to be innovative for our guests?

9.     Innovation is about being courageous and doing what our competition won’t.

10.   How do we attach ourselves quickly to trend waves to spur our own innovation?

I would also like to thank some teams around the world for recent innovations; the following is not an exhaustive list.... they are what come to mind presently.

1.     New Chuan Bathroom Amenities with exclusive scent created by Laura Tonatto. We are raising the level of our own branded items to a high end cosmetic range.

2.     The Chuan Academy set up by Barry White and the Langham Place team in Hong Kong. This is great out-of-the-box thinking for our spa brand.
  3.     The new Langham Legends CD – attaching themed music to our brand to underline our elegance and luxury.
    4.     The Langham, Hong Kong’s emergency pack for guests who lost their luggage. Wouldn’t you be delighted if you received this during such a stressful time?
    5.     At The Langham, Melbourne, front line colleagues are  each issued an iPod Touch to replace the pagers and radios. They can now check emails, receive job requests from GEMS, make internet calls, pre-order taxis and so much more.

6.     The Langham, Boston has put together a directory listing of all the bi-lingual employees in the PBX department. This makes it easy for the hotel to quickly and efficiently help guests who do not speak English.

7.     Eaton, Hong Kong has launched an Event App for iPhone users.  It's ideal for personalizing events and making them a great experience for our guests.  Be it a kid's party, a wedding reception, a graduation dinner, birthday celebration, full moon banquet or a corporate get-together, hosts can invite their guests to scan the customized QR code and input all the relevant information into this app.

8.     The Langham Xintiandi has a hotel mobile phone in their limousines. The Guest Services manager is then able to call the guests in the car to ask if any assistance is needed upon arrival. A very proactive service indeed.

Finally, I would like to thank the soon to be newest Langham Hospitality Group member, Eaton Chelsea, Toronto for the very nice birthday card and the creative video we received in Corporate Office this week. A very pleasant surprise and I'm sure we will be hearing of many innovative ideas from our colleagues in Canada soon!



  1. What a great message to celebrate 148 years of innovative hospitality! It is always helpful to see a list of what our colleagues are doing around the world, and what seemingly small innovations can be implemented at the property level to continually surprise and delight our guests. Sometimes the simplest ideas - like the Emergency Pack at The Langham, Hong Kong or the iPhone call from guest services while you're enroute to The Langham, Xintiandi that can make all the difference in a guest's stay, and create a memorable travel experience for them.

    I have to say my favorite bit from the blog post above has to do with this line: "Fiascoes are OK. Sometimes a new idea just may not work. That's OK - it's how we positively communicate this message and embrace mistakes that are important." I think when we are afraid that we might fail is when we stop innovating - in our personal lives as well as in our careers. It is always better to take a leap - take the chance that something might not work - in order to get to the one that WILL work, and, in the case of Langham's history of innovations, work beautifully over nearly 150 years.

    Also, it's hard to tell but I'm actually IN that video from Eaton Chelsea, Toronto - singing "Happy Birthday" with everyone else. That was second day of work at Langham, actually, and I knew in that moment, based on the excitement of everyone in the room, that I was working for a truly special company.

  2. I kind of like the fiascos are ok. We have had a few but the ideas were good. When we launched the Innovation strategy in June 2011, we had a workshop at the TLM with Max McKeown to kick start the process. We had a lot of ideas that came from that including a deptl competition to create Think Spaces in the hotel and to somehow create a messaging ipod system. In the event we did both. The first was symbolic and we invested, time, money and energy into it. The spaces are a sort of fiasco as they are not really being used for thinking but the symbolism of the activity has left a legacy of idea generation. The second idea has been enacted and is mentioned in the blog above where 75 staff now have ipods which can be used as phones (FOC) on our internal wifi system which has improved communication. It took 2 years to develop. We also had a competition to come up with an idea at the hotel that would become a top 10 tourist attraction in Melbourne. We had two ideas come from that, a Lightshow on the river facade of the hotel and an iconic bar on the roof top of the hotel. Well the first idea was great but far too expensive and eventually became the Christmas Lightshow on our waterfalls. This idea generated enchantment for all our Christmas guests and attracted 5000 youtube hits. The second idea is a work in progress with plans currently being drawn up for the development of the open pool deck area on the 10th floor.

    Lately the best idea that we have found to generate staff interest in ideas is an idea borrowed (they are often the best) from the Langham Pasadena, where we pass a hat around departments for a 2 week period for those teams to focus on ideas to improve their departments. This has been very successful in generating new ideas this year. I recommend it

    Ben Sington

  3. Bob van den OordJune 17, 2013 6:04 pm

    "If everything is under control, you are going too slow" Mario Andretti once said.

    "You don't move forward, if you stand still"

    New ideas will just keep us going!