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Modern-Day Influencers and Thinkers in Strategic Hospitality Management

Hospitality is a continuously growing industry, which only recreantly reached its peak. Such phenomena as democratization and mass tourism considerably propelled it (Vainikka, 2015). Thus, new processes, methods, and theoretical frameworks are applied in the industry, including strategic management, which has accumulated a considerable body of literature (Köseoglu et al., 2018). Hospitality management went through multiple phases, providing the contemporary generation of hospitality managers with an improved understanding of the field (Rivera and Pizam, 2015). Several prominent figures can be distinguished in strategic hospitality management, among them are Brian Gullbrants, Jennifer Hsieh, and Michael D. Olsen.

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Wynn Las Vegas’ is an award-winning resort in Nevada. The hotel is widely recognized among tourists and was declared the largest five-star resort globally (Mullen, 2019). To a no small extent, the organization’s success is dependant on its Executive Vice President and an influencer in hospitality industry, Brian Gullbrants. The influencer started his career as a waiter in the Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix and relatively recently became Wynn Las Vegas’ Executive Vice President (Mullen, 2019). In the time of crisis in which the sector submerged due to the pandemic, Gullbrants is responsible for building a strategy for Encore’s safe reopening (Hook, 2020). In A Wealth Of Insight: The World’s Best Luxury Hoteliers, the executive VP is presented as one of the most influential luxury hoteliers (Kanani, 2018). Regarding strategic leadership and management, Gullbrants states, “it will surprise you how much a team or an individual can achieve when they are stretched, encouraged, and have no limits” (Mullen, 2019, para. 10). Hence, Gullbrants is thought to be one of the most prominent leaders in the sector.

Jennifer Hsieh is a Vice President in one of the world’s biggest hotel corporations, Marriott International. The company is “the single largest hospitality brand and with the recent acquisition of Starwood in 2016 is now managing a portfolio of over 30 brands” (Nyangwe and Buhalis, 2017, p. 257). Hsieh manages Marriott’s insight, strategy, and innovation and currently leads the development and growth of the organization’s entrance in the home rental sector (Trevail, 2017). Thus, she became the head of Marriott’s Homes & Villas project, a potentially considerable adversary to Airbnb (Dickey, 2019). Besides extensive customer research for achieving objectives, Hsieh pushes the industry’s boundaries, as Marriott International was named one of the most innovative companies (Trevail, 2017). Continuous innovation is thought to be one of the essential elements in Marriott’s business model (Trevail, 2017). Hsieh’s approach to management accentuates the role of strategic innovation in securing business growth.

Michael D. Olsen’s contribution to strategic hospitality management cannot be overestimated. Olsen dedicated several decades to advancing the domain as the founder of the hospitality and tourism management department of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Sookhan, 2012). The significance of strategic management can be crystallized in this Olsen’s words “management must view strategic management as a way of thinking and not an annual process ” (Olsen et al., 2014, p.14). The professor was the founding president of the International Academy of Hospitality Research. Moreover, he co-wrote a cornerstone work – Strategic Management in the Hospitality Industry. After Olsen’s demise several years ago, the University of Delaware initiated Michael D. Olsen Research Achievement Award, recognizing researchers who have made a significant contribution to hospitality and tourism (Rosen College of Hospitality Management, 2016). Olsen could be considered one of the primary theoreticians of the subject.

Although strategic hospitality management does not seem like a fully established discipline, numerous scholars and business influencers, directly and indirectly, contribute to its development. Even though in distinct ways, Brian Gullbrants, Jennifer Hsieh, and Michael D. Olsen enriched strategic hospitality management. While Gullbrants and Hsieh seem to incorporate the approach in their practice, Olsen established its theoretical foundation. Overall, Gullbrants, Hsieh, and Olsen’s activity impacted the hospitality sector’s development and research within it.

Reference List

Dickey, M. R. (2019) Marriott is reportedly launching a home-sharing product in the US. Techcrunch. Web.

Hook, D. (2020) A week into Encore Boston Harbor’s reopening, the state’s eastern casino looks to the future. Masslive. Web.

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Kanani, R., (2018) Luxury hotel management and leadership 101: Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. Haute Living. Web.

Köseoglu, M. A. et al. (2018) Evolution of strategic management research lines in hospitality and tourism. Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management, 1–21.

Mullen, T., (2019) Managers of top luxury hotels provide leadership advice. Forbes. Web.

Nyangwe, S. and Buhalis, D. (2017) Branding transformation through social media and co-creation: lessons from Marriott international. Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism, 257–269.

Olsen, M. et al. (2014). Strategic management in the hospitality industry. 3rd ed. New York City: Pearson.

Rosen College of Hospitality Management (2016) Professor recognized for research achievement & graduate education. Rosen College Of Hospitality Management. Web.

Sookhan, H. (2012) In memoriam: Michael D. Olsen, professor emeritus of hospitality and tourism Web.

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Trevail, C. (2017) How Marriott leads innovation by keeping it in beta. Cspace. Web.

Vainikka, V. (2015). Rethinking mass tourism: professional discourses of contemporary mass tourism and destinations. Nordia Geographical Publications, 44(2), 99.

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