100 Years of Hilton Hospitality - An Interview with GM Mehdi Othmani
- June 26, 2019
AmCham: Congratulations for your 100th years of existence, this is something that does not happen every day in the Hospitality Industry?
Mehdi Othmani: Thank you Peter, this is an incredible milestone and moment in our history. I am very excited to celebrate with my team at Hilton Budapest City and with my fellow colleagues around the globe. It all started 100 years ago when Conrad Hilton our founder purchased the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas on May 31st 1919. Today, May 2019 we are very proud to be seen as one of the most accomplished hotel operators in the hospitality space. Hilton is positively impacting the fabric of thousands of communities - we have introduced iconic food and beverage offerings and new technologies. Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry over the last 100 years, reshaping the way guests travel and meet and without doubt this level of innovation will continue for the coming 100 years.
Pictured: Mehdi Othmani, GM of Hilton Budapest City
Your Industry, the Tourism industry accounts for an estimate 5٪ of Global Green House gas emission, researches show that Air Travel is the most significant contributor to that percentage, taking off and landing uses the most fuel. How serious Hilton Budapest City assumes its responsibility in this regard and what have your company done in your 100 years of existence to help preserving the climate?
Mehdi O.: What we clearly witness today is the negative impact of human activities on the planet, so it’s critical that we focus on how we improve our practices to protect the environment. Being responsible social and environmental stewards is engrained in Hilton’s culture, and last year, Hilton announced a commitment to cut its environmental footprint in half and double its social impact investment by 2030. These goals are part of Hilton’s Travel with Purpose corporate responsibility strategy to further the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Our key focus at Hilton Budapest City is to align with these commitments, driving the Hilton Effect and ensuring we have an impact wherever we can, whether it’s plastic and waste reduction, food reduction, responsible sourcing or supporting our local community.
Talking about labor, employees’ turn over in Budapest or elsewhere in the region is fairly high and there is no indications whatsoever to see a slowdown. How you as General Manager of one of Budapest exemplary hotels look at this trend and what are you doing in term of Human Resources practices to retain your employees?
Mehdi O.: Well, I don’t pretend to possess the “divine” solution for employee turnover challenges and I agree that the labor market is a dynamic, competitive landscape, which changes continuously and digital innovation accelerates day in day out. However, I think it is our duty as leaders of our business to understand the needs of our people and to provide them with a best-in-class working environment – a fair return for services, great training and progression opportunities, and a balanced life style so they can thrive, be at their best for our guests and ensure Hilton Budapest City is a great place to work.
Why would a fresh graduate joins Hilton Budapest City and not the many international hotels in the city ? Is celebrating 100 years of existence good reason enough to attract talents to your hotel?
Mehdi O.: We are very proud to be celebrating our 100th anniversary, but that is not the only reason talented people would join us. I believe we have a great and positive culture at the Hilton Budapest City, one that leads with our sense of purpose and our Hilton values, a culture that epitomizes our tenets of diversity, inclusion and belonging for all. My team and I focus daily on providing a great place to work for all our Team Members, and our mission includes the development of meaningful opportunities for all, as well as ensuring we have a positive impact on the local community in Budapest.
We uphold the same standards for every individual who works in our hotel. We set the bar high, which is why I believe we are well set to attract, develop and retain the very best talent here at Hilton Budapest City. We are confident that we are helping to inspire and nurture the next generation of Hungarian hoteliers.
What are your five important management traits when dealing with your team without considering titles?
Mehdi O.: First and foremost, you have to create an environment of trust. There you can allow people to be themselves. Furthermore, it is essential to ensure transparent discussion regardless the complexity of the topic. Also, do not be too critical, make sure to provide praise where it’s due and learn from mistakes. Finally, you just have to be open with the team about expectations.
What would be the phrase that encapsulates your beliefs in your private and professional life?
Mehdi O.: Spending today complaining about yesterday, won’t make tomorrow any better.
Tunisian-born German Citizen and Arabic speaker, Othmani holds a MBA in Hospitality Management from the University of Almeda , NY , USA and a degree in Financial Management of hotels from Cornell School of hotel administration, his career began as a lecturer at the Mediterranean Institute of Tourism in Tunis. Subsequently, Othmani worked in a number of countries worldwide, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos Island, Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Oman and Hungary. Before joining Hilton Worldwide, he also worked for Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts, and Rewe Touristik.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 17 world-class brands comprising more than 5,700 properties with more than 923,000 rooms, in 113 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, Hilton earned a spot on the 2018 world’s best workplaces list, and has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its 100-year history. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, more than 89 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy, plus enjoy instant benefits, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.