Steve's  classification in Rotary was  "Hotel management".

Steve has had almost 40 years in the hotel business in one form or another and longer if you count the education a youngster gets having a father who was a hotel GM. The dinner table conversation was interesting with many stories that helped shape Steve's  views on the hotel business and remain guides today. John Ratel worked at Delta Hotels with Steve's father and it was a pleasure to make that connection when he  first joined this club.

Since his  first job as a Bellman at age 13 to most recently running a hotel company of 13 properties and 6000 employees  Steve  has enjoyed every minute of a career in an industry that  he swore  he would never enter on a full time basis. The hours seemed too long, managing customers was a headache and you had to move around too much.

Since his  first job in 1976, Steve has  been:

  • Bellman
  • Banquet waiter
  • Bartender
  • Front Desk Clerk
  • Asst Hotel Engineer
  • A University student (always working in hotels)
  • A Hotel Industry Consultant and Lecturer President of a Regional Hotel Company

Steve's  goal was to be an urban planner and design cities but upon completing graduate school  he was recruited by Pannell Kerr Forster one of the leading hotel consulting firms at the time. With interest rates in the early 80’s at all time highs and jobs scarce,  he dove in headfirst.

So instead of designing cities Steve was helping developers and major hotel companies build hotels and resorts and grow their brands.

Every consultant wants a chance to put theory to the test so when the opportunity came up to lead a sizable hotel company – Steve jumped at the chance and moved to Hong Kong for a second time.

There have been many interesting incidents that have, indirectly, helped form his  views on the industry and  he shared  share a few of these – and in each there was a lesson to be learned.

  1. At the age of 6 at the Delta Airport Inn in Richmond.  while swimming in the pool,   a horse from a promotion fell into  the  pool - Steve now adheres to  a "no livestock policy" – small pets are OK

  2. At the age of 8 while  working as a Bellman at the Stockman's hotel in Kamloops he got to me a  real live WWII  conscientious objector in McBride -  from which his life lesson  was "protect the guests privacy at all costs".  Doug Webb remembers meeting this fellow years ago!

  3. At the age of 14 while a Bellman at the Stockmen's Hotel in Kamloops. he got on an elevator with one of the  exotic dancers. She had little on after her show,, a lot to take in at 14!  His life lesson:  "be careful what you wish for or alternatively when in an elevator with a beautiful woman make sure you are not wearing black pants, white starched shirt and a little black bow tie"!

  4. In 1988 and one of his  first projects as a consultant he was in charge  of  the recurring neighborhood pub survey. - The survey was run 3 times over the years and finally passed. Life lesson: "if you are patient, you can eventually wear down the electorate"

  5. In 2008., a terrorist   sent a demand to his hotel that unless  Steve paid up   a bomb would destroy the hotel. It turned out "The Davao, Phillipines  terrorist" was emailing from a local Starbucks!- Life lesson; "never negotiate with a cyber terrorist who operates from a Starbucks in the Philippines"!

  6. While in charge of hotel Management contracts in China - he quickly realized  "the negotiation never ends". This trained Steve well to  the same routine with his  two daughters!

Steve shared some insights from his long experience in the hotel/hospitality  industry;

       1. The guest comes first – always

       2. It is the most management sensitive business there is and  industry professionals must be better equipped for this reality.

  1. The third hotel owner always makes the money

  2. There are few barriers to entry but should be

  3. The fundamentals of a great shower, great bed, great food andflawless customers service are as true today as they werewhen Four Season was being conceptualized.

  4. We are in an experience economy and hoteliers need totransition from delivering the commodities in our industry well tobeing purveyors of exceptional experiences

  5. The guest is now fully in control of the booking process andprice integrity is critical to stay on the radar and to remaincredible

  6. The China market for British Columbia is important but not thepot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

  7. Rooms are where you make the money but food and beverageis where you make your reputation. This can still be true evenwith a highly competitive local restaurant market

      10. The industry must move to a more productive and professional hospitality industry work force to gain advantage in this experience economy. Full time jobs that are well paying for                     professionals who want to make the hotel business a career.


Steve then answered several questions from members



President Lisa thanked Steve for his most interesting talk.