The two questions posed in this article were prompted from the news of the last week in the American media. They both dealt with purchases, which while large in numbers, were substantially lower than the sale of these same assets over the last decade. I am referring of course to the sale of the Boston Globe to John Henry, the somewhat laid back owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million and that of the Washington Post to the founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos for $250 million.
While nothing in his background suggests what kind of newspaper owner he will be, Henry has earned a reputation as a pioneering investor and businessman who has followed his own instincts in running an array of successful enterprises. After deciding to close his shrinking commodities company in 2012, Henry focused his attention on the sports group which owns the Red Sox, a majority stake in the popular regional sports channel New England Sports Network, a successful NASCAR racing team, and a sports-marketing arm. In 2010, Henry made another big leap when his Fenway Sports Group paid $477 million for one of the most well known brands in soccer, England’s Liverpool FC.
"The Boston Globe's award-winning journalism as well as its rich history and tradition of excellence have established it as one of the most well-respected media companies in the country." In the reported statement, Henry cited "the essential role that its journalists and employees play in Boston, throughout New England, and beyond."
Bezos, a much more visible public figure, shared similar intentions in a letter to the staffers of the Post on August 4 said “the values of the Post do not need changing…. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not the private interests of the owners…”.
These questions came to mind because I have begun to wonder who is taking a serious look at hotels and hospitality these days. While there seems to be continuing announcements of new brands, the lasting power of many of them remains a hopeful desire in the imagination of the founders.
I am not being negative, yet one wonders what real changes are being developed that will lead to hotel companies that are offering more than an additional commodity.
Elsworth Statler, Ralph Hitz, Conrad Hilton, Howard Johnson, Kemmons Wilson, Robert Wooley and Henry Silverman each created organizations that were remarkably different than the competition over a 100 year period from 1898-1998. They were pacemakers that were not afraid of being labeled a “contrarian.1” “While each had challenges and problems, each overcame them by focus and a belief in their vision that they had the tenacity and conviction to make their dreams real.
Our group @ HospitalityEducators.com has the distinction of working with a number of hotel owners and senior managers in a variety of programs and it is exciting to see their enthusiasm as they look to find their dream.
Henry and Bezos are both high tech successes that are embracing a medium from the past that embraces high touch. I, for one, wish them both well – I also hope there are some innovators in our industry that are open to creative bursts of energy that can enliven our offerings.
Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving.
They make mistakes, but they don't quit.
About the author
John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of HospitalityEducators.com, which has more than 1600 resource pages and has become the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers. He is also the Principal of HoganHospitality.com, which offers hospitality consulting and hotel expert witness services.
KEYS TO SUCCESS™ is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™ , THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™ and Principles for Success.