A strong corporate culture has long been a point of emphasis at Chesapeake Hospitality, but the third-party management company is looking to take it to the next level with the creation of a new position dedicated specifically to just that.
The Greenbelt, MD-based company last month promoted Jane McCaul to the position of director of corporate culture & communication. In her new role, McCaul has been charged with driving key internal communications related initiatives, including the company’s charitable efforts, as well as creating and executing programs focused on the culture.
Chris Green, COO, Chesapeake Hospitality, sees the new position as an opportunity for the company to further differentiate itself. “As the industry has gotten so crowded and the ability to outpace somebody else in operational effectiveness has become more difficult because all of the tools that are out there are available to everybody, we had to focus on what makes us different, what makes us better as a company in my opinion and that was really driving home our culture piece,” he said.
Green later added, “When we focus first on our people and our culture everything else will fall into place.”
McCaul, who joined the company in 2011, most recently served as area general manager and director of charitable efforts at the company’s Hackerman-Patz Houses at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center.
“Service has always been very important to me and it’s actually the reason I joined this company in the first place,” said McCaul.
She elaborated by citing specifically her work with the aforementioned institutions as a prime example of the company’s ethos. “Here’s this hotel management company with an impressive portfolio of hotels generating [lots of] revenue and they’re going to manage this property that’s not out to generate that sort of revenue. Chesapeake wanted to do this because of their desire to serve a community in need and that really spoke to me,” stressed McCaul.
Green pointed out the company identified McCaul early on in her tenure as a candidate for this type of position. “She ran some of our business units but she was always a culture player. She always leaned her leadership towards caring for the individual and the guest and the operation more as a holistic enterprise. So she just really stood out with her energy and enthusiasm for people and [that aligns with] how we treat people and how we really believe in what we do,” he said.
When asked what attributes made her an ideal fit for the newly created position, McCaul emphasized empathy. “I look to everybody that we meet—not only our team members, but our guests and our clients—you really want to make a human connection and see how you can serve these people. With our guests we want to make sure that their experience goes beyond the aesthetics of our beautiful hotels, but we have a human connection with them and that that we’re helping them create memories. With our clients we understand where they’re coming from and we want to make sure we’re serving them in such a way that they choose to work with us because they see our core values are evident in everything we do,” she said.
McCaul added other key skill sets of hers include extensive written and oral communication; creativity; organization and planning; and a warm, friendly personality.
The company, which was founded in 1957, has experienced considerable growth in recent years and now has a portfolio of 35 hotels and some 3,000 employees. Green acknowledged some of the challenges that growth can create as he discussed some of the specifics of the new position.
“As you get scale communication becomes difficult so what Jane is doing—along with our ecommerce team and our marketing team—is formulating this training program which includes internal communications that are going to be going out weekly via either video or social media to our teams. We’re weaving this culture piece through all of our documents that we use for staff meetings or training events for our hotels; it’s going to become an underlying theme of all that we do,” he noted.
Green further stressed there are very tangible benefits associated with the increased emphasis on culture. “This sounds great but it’s just not something we’re doing to gain traction or be different; it’s literally focused on business throughputs. It’s lowering workers comp incidents in your hotels; that’s a real business factor. It’s lower theft at your properties and higher efficiency because you have more engaged employees. In this day and age when turnover is a critical business factor is somebody going to stay where they feel valued and they feel attached to something bigger than just coming to the hotel every day? Of course they are. So all of these things are throughputs of this broader global positioning of Chesapeake as a company that cares about its culture,” he said, adding he also expects higher retention rates and a lower cost of recruitment.
Both executives outlined their objectives for the new position with Green specifically citing the potential for additional management contracts.
“There are owners out there that understand the net value of a company who puts its people first and puts its culture first. I think we’re going to continue to grow as we have and continue to be a unique offering in the full-service management space. You know what you’re getting up front. You’re getting a company that found its business practices on honesty, integrity and humility,” he stated.
McCaul added, “I’m really excited to roll this out to everyone and I’m confident this is going to make a big difference with our employees. When they understand the possibilities available to them great things can happen for them which, in turn, will then help us serve the greater community better, including guests, clients and everyone else.”