Embracing Startup Culture Values To Succeed in Hospitality

Working at a tech startup with many hotel clients, I’ve noticed first hand that while the startup environment is fundamentally very different than working in hospitality, what it takes to succeed in these industries is curiously similar. TrustYou’s startup culture is uniquely “us,” but some of the guiding principles we’ve created for our company resonate with any veteran hotel staffer. Take a look at a few:

Empowerment/Self Organization

Among TrustYou’s core values—and chief among what makes us successful as a startup—is empowerment. Ensuring that everyone at TrustYou feels confident in their creative problem solving abilities and has the drive to be self-organized is key to not only getting new ideas from idea to product, but also to a happy work place.

Empowered staff is one of the essential traits of the world’s greatest hotels. Staff who know how to beautifully color outside the lines are able to be flexible and adaptable with guests. Ritz Carlton attributes this to its success, noting that staff at all levels is fully empowered (even with a discretionary budget) to help guests when an issue arises. In a recent Skift piece, the CEO of Montage Hotels & Resorts calls this concept their “thinking culture,” and it allows them to fully tailor their service to guest needs.

Passion & Vision

At TrustYou, these are two separate values. Our passion is for making travel better for today’s travelers and creating positive change in the industry. To do this, however, we also embrace vision, the strategic thinking and goal-oriented execution it takes to turn our passion into a viable—and valuable—travel product or service.

A vision for guest service fuels every successful hotel brand around. For Hilton: “To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.” For Kempinski: “Luxury hospitality with European flair.” For Accor: “Feel welcome.” Ritz Carlton: “The Ritz Carlton inspires life’s most meaningful journeys.” And certainly, a passion for guest service—at all staff levels—is what separates the good from the great in the hospitality world.


So simple, and yet communication is possibly the most complicated value to instill and excel at. It encompasses so much. Verbal and written. Seen and heard. Respect for colleagues’ and clients’ ideas and their time. Above all, our TrustYou team is transparent about what we do, how we do it, expectations, deadlines and changes, when we make a mistake and how the optimal solution will work.

For hotels, exceptional guest service is rooted in great communication. Conveying details via reservations (both voice and online), responding to guests with appropriate body language and emotional recognition, writing review responses in an authentic and understanding way, being accountable and honest about staff or hotel limitations or failings, conveying enthusiasm, compassion, interest, and so on. And communication between different departments is fundamental. In fact, Hyatt has actually embraced communication as one of their guiding HR principles. They call it “Hyatt Thinking,” and it’s based entirely around empathetic listening.

At the end of the day

Perhaps what underpins the success of core values, whether at a hotel or startup, is the act of having core values. Followed by embracing those values and ensuring that they are communicated. Most importantly, they must be embraced at every level of management so that directors and managers are responding to staff in ways that only reinforce the core values of the organization.