Michael Bonadies began his hospitality career as a dishwasher. While this detail might seem trivial when you consider the fact that Bonadies has become a much sought-after speaker, writer and entrepreneur, his humble beginnings exemplify the humble, we’re-all-in-this-together attitude that sets his career apart. He was a co-founder at Drew Nieporent’s Myriad Hospitality Group and helped launch world-famous restaurants Nobu, Rubicon and Montrachet. Bonadies now runs his own hospitality consulting firm, which has clients ranging from the 5-star Mondrian Hotel in Doha to startups that understand the importance of a personal touch. Journy recently caught up with Bonadies to find out more about what it takes to be an industry leader:
Are there any distinguishing features you look toward to create a positive hotel experience?
The people, the staff, first and foremost, make or break a hotel stay. A great hello and goodbye are the foundation of a superior hotel experience, and they can’t be achieved via technology, only face-to-face with a real person.
If done correctly, the arrival experience is especially critical because it sets the tone of the care and concern that one can expect through out the remainder of one’s stay. This emotional connection only comes through interpersonal interaction and the staff’s desire to please. The goodbye is equally important because a great one with heartfelt smiles cements a positive impression of your stay, and usually makes you feel pretty good about all the money you just spent.
In between the hello and goodbye it’s comes down to two things: fun, accessible and energetic food and beverage outlets, and the hotel integrating into its location, culture and community.
On the flight or drive home, I want to feel that my time was well spent and that my hotel or resort experience delivered value for my time, which none of us have enough of.
Delano Hotel In Marrakech. Image via Hospitality Net.
How can/should hotels interact with their communities and surroundings?
Great hotels have no walls. They’re a distillation of what is great about their city or their location. They demonstrate what is true about their community’s sense of identity and hospitality by expressing it through experiences that expose their guests to the uniqueness of their culture, food, art and entertainment. Without ‘four walls’ great hotels encourage and facilitate exploration and discovery by their guests.
What role do restaurants and bars play in hotels?
They’re the front porch of the hotel—welcoming, accessible, and ideally filled by locals with terrific stories and great tips.
How can restaurants and bars contribute to the overall ambiance of a hotel?
Restaurants, and even more so bars, bring life to a hotel. Done correctly, they energize the ground floor of the hotel in such a way that on immediately stepping into the lobby you know that you made the correct choice in booking the hotel.
Mondrian Hotel, Doha. Image via LATTE Luxury News.
What destinations in the world are you the most excited about in terms of developments in the hospitality industry?
The Middle East, Iceland, Costa Rica, Nicaragua…and closer to home definitely the Catskills and Hudson Valley
Advice for a young person ready to dive in to hospitality but just doesn’t know he/she belongs?
Just do it. You won’t know until you try because the hospitality business is like football, it’s not for everyone: you either like to hit and be hit or you don’t. You either like providing service to people or you don’t. If you enjoy making other people happy, that’s the best starting point.
What conversations should hotel managers/owners be having that they aren’t?
- How we can better tell the unique story of a property through social media.
- How we can drive more reservations through our own website as opposed to using other channels.
- How we can, on a daily basis, come down on the side of great service and higher guest satisfaction rather than working for great productivity and higher profits. We need to understand that success on the first side of this equation leads to higher rates and higher long term profits.
- How we can create and execute a service and hospitality culture that so-called disruptors will never be able to challenge.
21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Image via Travel + Leisure.
What are the most important considerations when selecting a chef for a hotel space/project?
My number on consideration is if they’ve worked in a hotel or corporate restaurant environment before. Hotel environments tend to be far more corporate, with more layers (each with lots of opinions) and are more HR driven. It’s a very different world from even the most organized restaurant groups in the world…so it’s definitely not for everyone.
Your best travel tips for the weary?
Don’t leave home!