Vancouver, Canada - December 11, 2011: The starship Enterprise from the Star Trek television franchise, against a black background. The model was made by Micro Machines, from Galoob.

Lessons for Hotels from the Final Frontier

Beam me up, Scotty! The original television series Star Trek ran 79 episodes in the late 1960s. After being canceled due to poor ratings, it was revived and has since spawned a slew of popular TV shows coupled with 13 high-budget movies as well as a barrage of novels, comics and other ancillary IP. To this day, thousands call themselves ‘Trekkies’ with the remarkable ability to regurgitate every line from those original episodes.

Most everyone, Trekkie or not, knows Captain James T. Kirk, the fearless leader of the Starship Enterprise. Played by William Shatner, Captain Kirk was known for his remarkable capability of keeping the ship and its seemingly hundreds of crew members safe as the ship hurtled through the galaxy and faced impossible odds. To me as a pre-teen, this was heady stuff!

But what does this have to do with the world of hospitality? And what can we learn from the good captain and his crew?

  1. The captain is always the captain. Kirk has a very capable first officer in Commander Spock, played by the late Leonard Nimoy. While Spock perennially states the facts and makes recommendations, Kirk is always the one to make the decision. Implication for hoteliers: It is the GM’s responsibility to patiently listen to advise as any senior management team will be filled with some very bright individuals, but ultimately it is the captain that runs the ship.
  1. The captain relies upon his crew for all manner of advise as well as execution. Kirk does not take the steering and throttle controls – that’s Zulu’s responsibility. Similarly, Scotty runs the engine room while Uhura handles communications. Everyone has a specific area of expertise where they are most knowledgeable and where they can work the fastest. Implication for hoteliers: Hire the best that you can. Set their goals and don’t interfere with their ability to deliver results or micromanage which can be detrimental to both morale as well as your time. This takes trust, but once you’ve developed it, your ship will fly!
  1. Requests from Starfleet command are usually challenging, illogical or both. Kirk never questions the directive. However, he often adds what best would be described as personal interpretation. Implication for hoteliers: Think of requests from corporate offices or owners as mandates that must be met in order for your individual ship to effectively fit into a much bigger picture. However, as senior managers you will have some degree of latitude in the delivery and in fact many brands will encourage a degree of individual expression.
  1. Security is always a critical issue. Klingons seem to appear everywhere. They are often adept at slipping in through the transporter or, failing that, attempting a breach through brute force. Then add to that all the other weird and alien dangers the Enterprise happens upon and it’s a miracle that the ship hasn’t been blown to smithereens. Implication for hoteliers: Think of those trying to breach your software’s database security as Klingons. They show no mercy and they will try to get around your defenses any way they can, attacking you without warning at just a sniff of weakness. In this day and age of ransomware and PCI compliance, your own survival is at stake and so this should be treated as a priority.
  1. Not every episode of Star Trek was focused on their overall mission. Those who recall the show will happily recall the episode entitled, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” The plot was centered around these titular fur balls eating all the wheat the crew was transporting, but the actors had a hard time staying sufficiently serious to complete their lines. Even though it was a silly experience for all involved, behind the scenes it helped cement the camaraderie amongst the key players who would eventually carry that positivity forward to every interview and sci-fi convention, thereby boosting fans’ appreciation for the characters as well as the franchise. Implications for hoteliers: Remember to dedicate time for team building that is either offsite or away from the daily routine as this is imperative for fostering the bonds that will transform your employees into family.

I would certainly be interested in any other parallels that you may be able to draw. And for those who are Trekkies, I hope that you live long and prosper!

(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published in HotelsMag on March 10, 2017)

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