Episode 227 – Unstoppable Hotelier and Consultant with Rocco Bova

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This is our first opportunity to hear from someone who has extensive experience in the hotel and tourism industry. Rocco Bova grew up in Italy, but always wanted to see and experience the world. While he left home at the age of 18, he returned, but at the age of 24 began his journey that lead to a 25-year involvement in the hotel industry.
From Europe to Middle East, Asia, India, Africa, the Caribbean and Mexico Rocco held many positions in various hotel organizations. Now he is a consultant to various hotel companies to help them grow and cope with all the changes that Covid and other forces has caused.
We get to hear about Rocco’s concept about how to reform much of the hotel industry by creating an organization called “Humble House”. He will tell us about it. I can say that from a business point of view, his idea is an interesting and good one to explore.
Our conversation not only covers the hotel and tourism industry, but it also talks about relevant and good business processes and concept. I especially love our last five minutes that summarizes our conversation and puts all Rocco’s concepts into a wonderful perspective and good summary.
About the Guest:
Rocco is an experienced hotelier with over 25 years of international experience having worked for some of the best international brands in 11 countries, from Europe to Middle East, Asia, India, Africa, the Caribbean and Mexico. 
Educated in Italy, the UK and most recently with Cornell University in Singapore, Rocco is an avid learner and continues his education investigating online to keep up to date with the latest global tourism trends.
He started his career in Dubai with Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, worked with Four Seasons, Hilton, Aman Resorts, IHG, LUX Resorts, Starwood (now Marriott), and other independent companies managing world class, luxury hotels.
Rocco contributes actively as an influencer of the hospitality industry through social medias, writing articles in digital blogs, speaker in several conferences and podcasts, visiting lecturer at hotel schools and has been a Board Member of pro bono organizations like Hoteliers Guild, GSN Planet and the World Wellness Weekend. After years of brewing his idea and mastering the art of hospitality, Rocco has decided to put all his experience and knowledge into a revolutionary hospitality concept with a unique business model and begun working on ”My Humble House” concept.
Rocco is still actively working in the industry and he is currently in Mexico, consulting for various developers of boutique hotels and master planned communities.
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Ways to connect with Rocco:
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Transcription Notes:*

Michael Hingson ** 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson ** 01:21
Well, thank you for being with us. Once again. Welcome to unstoppable mindset. We’re glad you’re here. Today we get to interview someone who’s in or who’s been involved in an industry. We haven’t talked about before Rocco Bova, who was a hotelier for 25 years. He is a consultant in the industry. So we get to talk all about travel, tourism and hotels and all sorts of things like that today with Rocco. I know he’s got a lot of thoughts and a lot of things to discuss with us. So looking forward to this a whole lot. Well, Rocco, welcome to unstoppable mindset. We’re glad you’re here. Mike,
Rocco Bova ** 01:58
thank you so much for inviting me. I like this is unstoppable mindset. You know, this is one of the things why it caught my attention. And when we connect on LinkedIn, so I’m glad, I’m glad and honored to be invited on your show today.
Michael Hingson ** 02:15
And you are down in Mexico right now, right?
Rocco Bova ** 02:18
It’s correct. I live in Merida Yucatan. So it’s your it’s on the southeast peninsula of Mexico, let’s say about three hours drive from Cancun, just to give a bit of geography so that everybody is clear on where I where I’m based.
Michael Hingson ** 02:38
So in the winter, do you get any kind of snow?
Rocco Bova ** 02:43
Normally, by let me tell you that yesterday for the first night, I felt called a nice so we went down probably to about 22 Celsius, which is which is kind of winter for us what temperature 22 Celsius,
Michael Hingson ** 03:01
or 22 Celsius is pretty warm. It is pretty
Rocco Bova ** 03:03
warm. But it’s cold. Because when you’re used to sleep with air conditioning because outside the 36 Celsius definitely is cold for us. Yeah.
Michael Hingson ** 03:16
Yeah, that’s that’s a good point. Now just so that people understand. If you’re listening to Rocco, that is not a Mexican accent because he’s from Italy.
Rocco Bova ** 03:28
Absolutely. I was born in Italy, Mike but I left Italy very young. I was only 18 When I left my village in the south of Italy is a little village called Sheila. In fact, I live in the Strait of Sicily. So from my home, hometown, I can see the point that the tip of Sicily on the other side of the of the water is a beautiful place. But when I was growing up, I said to myself, I’m not going to stay here I want to explore the world I want to travel for as far as I can in things God I’ve been in few places. I’m very happy that you know, I decided to leave my house, my home. Very young. Right?
Michael Hingson ** 04:09
What was it like growing up in Italy? And what was it like for you growing up as a child and you went to school and all them have a pretty normal childhood or what
Rocco Bova ** 04:20
I am proud to say that probably I had the best childhood that one can have. So you know, I was raised by wonderful parents. I have three are the three brothers sister. We have four of us all together. And you know, we love each other. The family grew obviously with nephews and nieces and solid support. But I think the most important is also the environment where you grew up, is the friends that you grew up with. You know your circle, uh, you know the influence your life and eventually your future you know, so, you know, my, my childhood and you And also my teenage I was, I was growing, you know, the era of you probably the 80s, you know, between 80s and 90s. Those Those years were probably the peak of the, of the century. And, you know, I was lucky to enjoy a certain lifestyle, you know, during this period of time. So, you know, I also was inspired by certain people, you know, that may sound stupid, but even Rocky, you know, you know, we’re watching these kind of movies, you know, we’re very motivating, very inspiring, you know, that even a normal person can achieve great things. Yeah, through Air Force and hard work. And, you know, that’s, that’s basically what my life is about. I knew I could do it, it was just a matter of being focused and really work really hard for what I wanted to do. So here I am, after leaving in 11 countries and working for more than 25 companies, you know, some of the best company in the hospitality industry. So what can I say?
Michael Hingson ** 06:07
What did your parents think of you wanting to leave and explore the world?
Rocco Bova ** 06:14
You know, actually, my dad was very scared, you know, may rest in peace is he was always very worried about me, and it was sticky or rock or you got to do, you still don’t you don’t have a career you don’t have, you know, I didn’t study University. I went to university later in life, but I didn’t study when I was young, you know, so I went to when I finished my high school, I went straight to work. And my mum was also you know, kind of, you know, stay in Italy don’t go away, you know, where are you going? And then suddenly, you know, my life obviously changed. Because, you know, I was so stuck, unstoppable. That, you know, I just felt that everything was achievable, you know, just through effort and an hour. And, and yes, indeed, I achieved what I wanted. And, you know, my mom now she actually she told me, you know, it was good, a good a good choice that you left Italy, and you went to follow your dreams.
Michael Hingson ** 07:10
So she, she now feels that you made a pretty good choice. Definitely. Well, that’s pretty cool. So she, she supports you and are your, your siblings in Italy still? Or where are they?
Rocco Bova ** 07:26
Yeah, yeah, the entire family stayed in Italy. No, but nobody was crazy. As we you know, the first time I left my hometown, I bought a one way ticket, and I only had a few $100 in my pocket. So you know, I’m kind of like the risk. Let’s put it this way. So in addition
Michael Hingson ** 07:44
to doing all the things that you’ve done, have you ever have you started a family? Are you married or have any children or anything? Yes,
Rocco Bova ** 07:51
I have two beautiful kids, you know, they’re now older, you know, they’re not children anymore. So my son is 20 and my daughter’s 19. And married for about 28 years or with my wife, so very, very happy to have achieved also, my personal life.
Michael Hingson ** 08:10
Being married for 28 years is certainly good. There’s so many couples that just don’t make it that far. So I am really glad to hear you continuing to do that. My
Rocco Bova ** 08:21
wife My wife says that, you know, we kind of museums couples, that are not many like us nowadays.
Michael Hingson ** 08:29
We were married for two years when my wife passed away last November so we I appreciate it. Definitely
Rocco Bova ** 08:36
yeah, sorry to hear that. But you know 40 years of big my milestone definitely. Yeah, a
Michael Hingson ** 08:44
lot of memories and definitely enjoy it. Well, I’m I’m really glad that you’re you’re doing so well. And you have two good kids, what are they going to do with their life where they’re going to go off and explore the world too.
Rocco Bova ** 08:53
It looks like they are because my son is studying hospitality management. And I can see already are kind of on a right path to travel the world and experience so many things. My daughter she’s studying marketing. So for her is still kind of first year study. But yeah, I’m sure they both speak four languages. You know, what, what can stop the nothing really?
Michael Hingson ** 09:20
And that’s great. What does your wife do?
Rocco Bova ** 09:23
My wife she’s a personal coach and she’s a healer. So she helps people to get better in their life both from a physical spiritual and mental way so she she’s she’s been studying this both as a self learner but also through many different courses as she did in different country from India to Mauritius, and really more recently, Mexico. Maybe,
Michael Hingson ** 09:54
maybe we should explore her coming on the podcast sometime.
Rocco Bova ** 09:58
Sure. Why not?
Michael Hingson ** 09:59
We’d love to talk to, we’d love to talk to coaches. I will sell it about Well, so what did you do? So you left home? And why did you leave home? Did you have a job that you went to? Or why?
Rocco Bova ** 10:12
Believe it or not, I did not have a job when I left when I left to London. I mean, I was still in Italy I was working at at the time, you know, I was 24. And then one one evening, I meet this Brazilian guy, who tells me at the end of the evening work in this restaurant, he tells me Look what you want to do in life. And I was not expecting this question. But when I told him, You know, I want to travel the world. I don’t know exactly what I want to do. But one thing I know, I want to travel the world. And he said to me, why don’t you come to London? I can help you. You know, so I didn’t, I didn’t let him finish the sentence because I told me this No joke, I’m coming. And he’s now how old?
Michael Hingson ** 10:55
How old? Were you then?
Rocco Bova ** 10:57
Michael Hingson ** 10:59
So what did you do from 18 to 24.
Rocco Bova ** 11:02
I went to army, I went one year to university, but I dropped out after after 10 months. And then the other two years, I was working. So I did some work, obviously, you know, I had to earn my life. And you know, I didn’t want to be dependent on my, on my parents. So I worked a couple of years. And and so when I came back to Italy, you know, to my hometown for the summer, I met this Brazilian guy. And so when he told me that he was going to help me to get to London, I say what I’m going so I put together the all the money that I had, which was those days, the equivalent to maybe $600. And, and, you know, I bought a one way ticket, and I went to London with a friend, we went there, we didn’t speak English, we’re talking you know, with what with our hands like most Italian do, but we literally we couldn’t talk in any other language or the hands. So it was funny. But then eventually we reach out to the house of this of this friend. And a few days later, he came and he took us to, to Headhunter you know, like a lady that she was placing young young students or young people to go to work in different restaurants and bars in London. And in a matter of hours, we got our first job so we went to work in this Italian restaurant, during which time I was able to go to school learn English, and then met my wife and then the rest of history because you know I then I started to get to get to understand that the hospitality world and how big it was and how many opportunities they were in not just restaurant but hotels and in the real estate and investment company and everything spa wellness, you know, the the the the industry was so big that I said to myself, you know, I need to study now. So I went back to school at the age of 28. I got my diploma. And then my first job was in London in Jumeirah Beach hotel in Dubai. And then from Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, I went to four seasons in Singapore from four seasons Singapore, I went to the Hilton in Kuala Lumpur. And from there I went to a man resort in New Delhi. Then I went to the Intercontinental Bustan palace in Muscat in Oman, and then I went to looks or tells a resort in Mauritius, followed by St. Regis Mauritius. From there I came back to, to the to the Caribbean with Aman resort for the second time. And then finally I landed in Mexico, where I’ve been living now for the past several years. Very lovely.
Michael Hingson ** 13:48
And your family just went with you wherever you went. They
Rocco Bova ** 13:53
went with me. They follow me for this 28 years, you know, so my wife, she said to me now that’s enough. I know. I want to stop traveling. I’m done with traveling. I’m done with packing and unpacking. Yeah. And so now we’ve been living in Mexico for the past seven years. And to be honest, actually, I also like Mexico is a beautiful country with nice people. So yeah, why not? is a big country anyway, it will take me maybe another 10 years to explore everything. So I’m sure I’ll be busy. So
Michael Hingson ** 14:25
you’re you’re clearly obviously enjoying being in Mexico, but you’re not currently in the hotel industry directly. Right.
Rocco Bova ** 14:35
Well, what I’m doing Mike now over the past three years I’ve been when I left the operation as such, if you want to say that, and I started to work as a consultant, so I’ve been working for different companies in different parts of Mexico, but I also work in Dominican Republic for one hotel group then in Puerto Rico, or another group. I’ve been doing some My remote work for Saudi Arabia, Bali. And, you know, it seems that something is going to happen maybe in Belize. So I can proudly say that I’ve been busy, very busy actually, even though I never worked as a consultant, you know, normally I consult for one company, which is my employer. But I’ve been, I’ve been doing up to seven clients at the same time. You know, last year, for example, I had 1.7 clients working at the same time, you know, so try to remember everything for each of the, each of them was not so easy, but I managed, it was, it was fun, is a difference from being in operation, of course. And that is as as, as interesting because you learn so much from a different angle, now, not just operation and guests. But also you learn about, you know, development, architecture, design, brand, rebranding some time, you know, construction, concept, development, many other things, which, before I was not involved, and also to finish that I also work directly with owners or investors. So that’s also very interesting point.
Michael Hingson ** 16:16
So it’s a kind of a different environment for you then than it was, but the fact that you have all the hotel knowledge must be something that people look for, and they hire you because they value the expertise that you have.
Rocco Bova ** 16:33
In fact, actually, my tagline on my LinkedIn page is actually lockable. Or tell experts.
Michael Hingson ** 16:40
There you go hotel. And I can
Rocco Bova ** 16:43
say that, yes, I do have quite some expertise, I’ve been working in this industry for over 30 years, I do educate myself everyday for at least two, two hours a day, every day. And, and I keep up to date with the trends with the evolution of the industry. And, you know, I tried to anticipate what’s coming up, because in order for you to be ready for what is happening, you need to, you know, be prepared or, or even know what is coming next. You know, trends are predictable. To be frank, if you are, if you’re a good observer, and a good listener to what’s happening to other parts of the world, eventually will come to your part of the world so, so I keep an ear open always every single day. That’s, that’s what is my advantage. So
Michael Hingson ** 17:35
what do you do for two hours every day to keep your education up?
Rocco Bova ** 17:38
Well, there are, there are so many platforms where you can on a daily basis, you know, I’m talking about digital magazine, newsletters, websites. LinkedIn itself is a great platform where you can actually learn, you know, the news, new hotel, opening new calls to opening a new company, forming new brand. So it’s, it’s, it’s a great platform, and it’s all free. You know, those days, you know, to 30 years ago, we had to go to a library and there was no internet, you have to buy books, or you have to buy a magazine to learn, you know, you have to spend money. Now, it’s all free. You know, it’s all. So they’re available. So it’s just a matter of 1pm focus in knowing where to go and search for those information. So what do you think
Michael Hingson ** 18:29
the hotel industry has? Become? What do you what kinds of changes? Do you think in the hotel or in the travel and tourism industry in general? How has it changed over the years since you started working there?
Rocco Bova ** 18:45
Well, nothing has changed until something happened about three years ago, to be honest, everything was well working pretty well to be frank. And in the industry was going through a time of was going through a transformation was a positive transformation. And then the pandemic arrived, Mike and in then everyone thought that, you know, after the pandemic, we all going to be friends and we all going to be closer, we all going to be hugging each other. Then suddenly, I can tell you that it’s actually not like this anymore. I am observing more and more actually, that the industry is becoming colder. It’s becoming a lot more focus on bottom line is becoming a lot more focused on business, just being a business, hospitality. This is also business, but first is about people are being hospitable. And I think we’re losing a little bit about this value of working in our industry. It’s actually being hospitable, genuinely But I understand, you know, people lost a lot of money, you know, some people lost their jobs. And, you know, we lost hundreds of 1000s, if not millions of people, great people working in the hospitality industry, during the pandemic, that network will never come back, ever, because what happened was, you know, the most company, they got rid of, you know, something that they thought it was going to be a cost, you know, which is the payroll, call it the payroll, but you know, there are people. So the first call was to reduce the number of people working for the company, because you know, that we can save our, our business, but they didn’t think about the, the effects of this decision. So, guess what, you know, now we’re struggling to find talent, they’re struggling to find committed people, that they actually want to stay with a company for a long, long time. And when I say long term, I know I don’t mean to say for 10 years, but give it at least one year, you know, there’s a huge turnover at the moment, which is nearly unmanageable. You know, in the old days, we knew that turnover in hospitality industry was big, but now is bigger. And I feel that most companies are not doing much to reduce down to control or to or to influence, you know, in in a positive way. And probably, this was also one of the reasons why I decided to get into consultants, maybe?
Michael Hingson ** 21:29
Why do you think that is, though? Why do you think that? We, we have such a turnover? Do you think it’s just because of the coldness of the industry? And more important? How do you think we reverse that?
Rocco Bova ** 21:44
Well, the biggest reason is actually that if if people don’t care anymore, they think they say, you know, if you don’t treat me, well, I just go somewhere else. And there are jobs available, there’s plenty of jobs available. So companies are desperate for talent, you know, most most of the time, the the, the recruitment process is not the same as it was before they immediately they will take you because they need people, they need legs in the hands to get the job done. And on the other hand, there is also a salary factor, you know, people they say, Oh, well, if I were there, they can pay me 20% more, you know, let me give it a try, maybe it’s good, maybe it’s not good. And if it’s not good, I can change again. So, there is lack of like a commitment. And and there is a focus on earning more basically. So, what do go ahead? No, and I will say, you know, even if most company they have, they have increased the pay, because they did they have to do it, you know, there was no other way, you know, with increase of price for cost, the cost of living and solid support inflation. So, you know, they were obliged to increase salary by 1020, even in some places, even up to 30%. But even with that has more changed. So the commitment has not changed. So that means that people will change again, if they feel that are not properly treated in a place. So, you are asking me, okay, what is the solution to that? I don’t know if there is a solution. But I personally am starting to work on a personal project called My humble house. And this happened actually, during the pandemic. So three years ago, I started to work on a on a hotel concept on a business model, that I think it could be the solution to this problem. And it’s something very simple, you know, actually is not so complicated. So I said to myself, What if I was part of the business? What if I was responsible for the success of the financial business of my company that employs me. So I started to work in a business model that involves profit sharing with the employees. And then I started to develop this concept, I wrote about 60 pages of the business plan. And I started to share it with a lot of people about 300 plus people around the world. And guess what? I receive the compliment, on compliment and more compliments from more people all over the world. I open I open a LinkedIn page actually where I have 4000 followers already. I was invited to several podcasts like yours, I was invited to write even articles on on business magazine, of focusing on on hospitality. And from that, I gather that there is a need for something like this. I’m not saying that this is the the only solution. But I feel that there is definitely a need for something like this. And, you know, by the comments that I hear from different people, talking about, you know, senior people and Not to give out, you know, the waiter or the or the housekeeper, I’m talking about senior C level executive that they all told me, Rocco, this is a great idea. You know, when can you start one? But now I’m at the point that I’m looking actually for investors and watch this space Mike, you know, you might hear my humble ow soon around your corner.
Michael Hingson ** 25:21
So what’s the idea how does it work?
Rocco Bova ** 25:25
It works very simply is hotel, you know this, this is this concept, I cannot change it, you know, I will tell you hotel, it will always be a hotel. But the point is, is the business model. So, generally, I will tell you know, when he first opens, you know, it takes about two to three years to get to break even point. But the business model for this for my humble life, is actually to join a hotel room with residences. So we all know that Brandon residence is nothing new for season, do it. Ritz Carlton do it Mandarin Oriental do it. So it’s a proven business model, which means that if I have 25 room, and I have 15 residences that I can sell, and I invest, let’s say $20 million, I have 15 residences, maybe each resident, I can sell it for a million dollar each, by the time I sell the residence, I already gained 15 $15 million, that can help me get to the return on the investment much faster, instead of waiting seven years, I may get into three years, the moment you get a real return on the investment, investors are very happy. But also, you get into the breakeven point faster because you have an inventory that is more efficient. I like to remind you that to manage 25 rooms, or to manager 40 rooms, you actually need the same number of staff, you don’t need to double your staff because you’re doubling your inventory of rooms. So when you are you become a bit of an efficient business is easier to get to your breakeven point, the more you start making profit, you can share this profit with your employees, what would an employee feel a if I earn more, if my boss earn more, or the company I work for earns more, I can earn more too. And, you know, that generates more commitment, longer term commitment. Honesty, you know, people actually do their job instead of wasting time. Because they know if they’re more efficient, they actually become better in in, in, in, in business, you know, people that they’re selling the business, for example, salespeople, they actually do sell because they know if if they sell more, they’re gonna learn more. So everything becomes so much more organic. In the end, everyone will become part of the success of the business. That’s why I’m so convinced that you know, profit sharing is actually the the future of the business model of this industry. Maybe every industry, you know, why? Why only few people need to make lots of money. You know, I think that the cake is big enough, and everyone can benefit.
Michael Hingson ** 28:13
So you think that by adding the profit sharing component, that that’s the kind of thing that will keep employees and that they won’t just jump ship, because they think they can get a better deal somewhere else that profit sharing is a major game changer.
Rocco Bova ** 28:32
That’s one of the reason why is not just money. Remember that also, you need to have great leadership, you need to have a company that cares for you, you need to have a proper amenities for the team members, you need to have a great product and also for guests so that they want to come back or at least they want to recommend it. So is a number of things that you have to have. But you know, when you when you devise a new business, you devise or sort of the longer term, you don’t devise a new business just for the sake of just going over a few years, and then it goes down or sell it to somebody else. Now the idea is to start the business for the long term. So yes, the ingredients are there. Hotels have been around for hundreds of years. So it’s not easy to do. And in new brands are needed, because new generation are coming. And this sustainability, let’s call it this way is not just about respect of the environment, but it’s also respect of the people and also making the business sustainable for the long term. If the business is not sustainable for the long term, there’s not sustainability at all. Basically,
Michael Hingson ** 29:45
where does the guest fit in all this? So you’ve talked about the the investors, you’ve talked about the sea level managers and you’ve talked about the employees and all that. How do the guests influence all About
Rocco Bova ** 30:00
I love this question I think is really spot on whether the guests fit. So imagine I am a guest I’m going to hotel, and I feel team members with a beautiful, genuine smile. The first thought that comes to my mind is a this guy must be very happy here. I’m gonna ask him, Hey, why are you so happy? Guess what, you know the employee can only say Hey, this is a great company, they take care of me. They look after me. They even share the profit. Imagine the guests reaction what the company shares of it with you as an employee. And the employee will say yes, they do actually, you know, every month or every year I at the end of the year, if the company is profitable, we get a share of this profit. So imagine imagine the reaction of the guest. Well, you may say to me, Well, maybe they will avoid tipping the the individual but the employee when the employee is actually so happy they’ll provide the best service ever to a guest and the guest when they see the company takes care of their of their employees. They return in they recommend why I’m saying this because I also work for company that they take very good care of their employees I work for full season I work for Jumeirah I work for my resort, I work for Lux hotels, resorts I worked for a company that even the worst situation was scenario they took care of the their team member first. And guess what, they’re still there. If they were not so good. Jumeirah will no longer be there. If four seasons not taking care of their team members, they wouldn’t be there. So I know for a fact that that taking care of the team members definitely work for the business. And for the guests.
Michael Hingson ** 31:54
It seems to me that you know, of course, that’s true for for any company. And I don’t know whether it’s a relatively new concept that you’re introducing to the hospitality industry, but in general, certainly, employees, and everything clicks better. When people are happier, they’re having fun. I know that I get to observe a lot of airline personnel as I travel. And I mainly use American because I’ve been using them for 42 years now, although I think that the airline industry has created a lot of challenges, and is not what it was 40 years ago. But I know that when I travel on Southwest Airlines, the employees seem to at least the last time I was on the flight. And the last several times I was on a Southwest flight to having a lot more fun. And they seem more happier than on any other airline that I’ve experienced. And they liked that. And they that reaction flows down to the passengers on the airplane.
Rocco Bova ** 33:05
See, I’m not I’m not I’m not inventing anything here, you know, it transpires to the to the customers, when team members, they’re very happy or they feel comfortable being around the workplace. You can see immediately when a when a team members is not happy. Because they’re they they drag their feet because they’re moody because they say they don’t even say good morning to you. Would you stay in a place where people don’t care about you as a customer? Of course not? Of course not. So it’s a reaction is you know, and a lot of people they say, Well, why do I need to waste money on training? Why do I need to waste money on benefit for the team members? But, you know, why not? If you don’t do it, what is going to have? What is the worst case scenario that you close business, you close, you shut down because your business not doing well enough. So, you know, I’m Dave, I’m very careful in choosing to work for certain companies, you know, and I am very, very big, analytic, you know, when it comes to deciding whether I work for a company or not. And sometimes I prefer to step out of a company, if I feel that this is not for me, you know, I have nothing to lose. I actually have a lot to lose, if I stay. I prefer to step out. Well,
Michael Hingson ** 34:27
if they’re not willing to utilize your expertise, I can understand that and it’s unfortunate that we do see so much of all of that happening and the pandemic hasn’t helped. Because, as you said, now people want more money and they want a lot of things. But again, is that really it or is it more that they want a really great feeling workplace to be involved with
Rocco Bova ** 34:59
You know, when I, when I think Mike is not, you know, they’re just new generation, you know, I belong to Generation X, you know, that’s, you know, 53 years old now. And I feel like a millennial, but you know, I’m a Generation X by age spoiled this way. And starting already from my generation, I’m starting to be more more more aware of my environment. And it’s not just a matter of, oh, I need to work for this brand, because it’s the best brand in the world. All right, you know, I need to work for this hotel, because they won so many awards. No, no, no, first and most important thing for me is to work. Who are the, who are the people behind this company? Who do I report to? You know, what is my relationship with these people? What am I going to get? Not just what they’re gonna get out of me? What am I gonna get from them in in in the choice becomes smaller because obviously you start to eliminate immediately your if you are, say an expert, let’s say you know, in reading, you know, the situation you can understand if this company is for you or not, by reading the people you’re going to use, you are interviewed by for example. So definitely is something that is different now. Now talking about the new generation, the new generation, they might be careless, you know, they say, Okay, let’s give it a try. There’s nothing to lose. Okay, they try one they stay a few months, then they are, you know, what, no, this is not for me, I’m going resigned and go somewhere else, and then they go somewhere else and they go somewhere else. Because as I said, you know, jobs are plenty at the moment. So there is there is there are many opportunities and people you know, even even people that are tech, tech knowledgeable, you know, they can even work from home or you can do something online, they can program something maybe an application and they can earn some money very quickly, you know, they can just work on Uber or something like that. So there are many ways to earn money today. You know, it’s not just about having a full time job.
Michael Hingson ** 37:13
Right? How do you think Airbnb has affected the hospitality industry? That was an interesting question. I thought I would spring up and just see what you thought.
Rocco Bova ** 37:27
I Lloyd Michael, you know, when when Airbnb grew up so quickly, you know, orderlies were scared oh my god, what are we going to do now? You know, these Airbnb guys that they broke everything you know, there was there was no longer hotels only and now that also homes the you know, what, what are we going to do? We’re going to lose so much business. Did we hotels keep opening, new brands keep sprouting. The room count around the world keeps growing the population of the world keeps growing too by the way so we are eight plus billion people right now in this planet and the likelihood is that we’re going to keep growing even even to more people in that in the next 1015 20 years. So the scare of being affected by Airbnb to me is it was unnecessary. And n is proven by the fact that actually Airbnb pushed hotels to get better. So why do I need to go to an Airbnb and not hotel so it tells the need to start to get the game up because Airbnb was getting the gap very quickly. Airbnb lately started to lose grounds they became too commercial they became they grew too much and there’s literally no control so just room rental for one night or two nights or whatever. I’m actually happy that is is some cities like New York Venice you know Rome Berlin and sort of support they’re starting to put rules because it is impossible to get a normal rental in city center so that was not good also for normal people like me and you you know if I want to rent an apartment in the center of London or New York or Boston, you know, I don’t need to spend $10,000 a month you know, I want to spend the normal a normal rent which is reasonable. And so I’m glad that you know some rules are starting to come into place for Airbnb, because in case you don’t know probably you do. Airbnb was was not born to rent a room for one night. Airbnb was, was born to rent a room for students are long term, but not shorter. You know, and when we say short term, it definitely was not one night or two. He was for a month or two months, maybe 45 days but good and Airbnb became another hotel another way to be a hotel without having the permit the licenses, paying taxes and so on and so forth. So, from their point of view, I think that some regulation, they should have come even much earlier. I don’t know why it took so long.
Michael Hingson ** 40:15
And I think it makes sense to to deal with something like an Airbnb for long term rentals, because that’s not what hotels typically are designed for.
Rocco Bova ** 40:27
No, no, wait for that. You have service apartment. Yeah. Which is, which is like a hotel, but it’s now is for serve for long term rent, you know, you have proper amenities for long term rental.
Michael Hingson ** 40:40
Or you have Airbnb, and that’s fine. Personally, for me, I certainly wouldn’t want to I, I like when I go somewhere to use a hotel room because I don’t want to take on the responsibility of preparing food or doing other things like that. But I also know I’m only staying for one or two nights or just a few nights. And I’ve been in long term rental apartment situations, and that’s fine, but that’s different, too. So when I when I travel, I just think that it works a whole lot better for me to be in a, in a hotel environment. I know when my wife wife was alive. Since she was in a wheelchair, it also was a lot more relevant for her because most Airbnb type houses that were made available for rental, we’re not necessarily overly wheelchair accessible. And there’s nothing that makes that happen, or there hasn’t been
Rocco Bova ** 41:38
That’s correct. That’s correct. But on the other hand, we also are in a situation where even Airbnb is starting to transform themselves because they reach a point of stabilizing so what is going to be next for Airbnb as well, they cannot remain what Airbnb was 10 years ago, they need to start to innovate as well, I feel that that’s why they’re losing ground of it. Airbnb, I think that they do not innovate enough. Since the past five, seven years, they have not changed their business model. You know, this, they tried to make this experience so you know, leave like a lot, you know, leave like local stuff. Therefore, this is not for them, because they don’t manage this, you know, somebody else does it for them. I mean, I just feel that Airbnb is probably time for them to do to shake the tree a little bit, you know, and get something new.
Michael Hingson ** 42:36
We’ll see what they do.
Rocco Bova ** 42:39
Michael Hingson ** 42:39
So you’ve talked a lot about the talent pool and that people know they can make a lot more money. Sometimes if they go somewhere else, or they feel they can where it’s going to be the end of all that is it? Is it a spiral that’s out of control and is never going to change? Or what do you think will happen these are
Rocco Bova ** 43:02
the next two years I think is gonna wait is where we’re going to see the worst part of our industry I have a feeling that what’s happening right now is gonna only gonna get worse for at least another couple of years. During this two years, I hope that the industry is going to do something and and I hope that they understand that that if we don’t do anything, it’s just going to get worse and worse. So maybe this is also why this battle you know, my personal battle of getting this off the ground you know, this humble house project to the you know, which may never take off but as far as I’m concerned is already off the ground because a lot of people is already asking me for and it’s very curious. So the curiosity for me that means that there is a need for for change in the business model of the industry. I also feel that you know that small investors they should be encouraged. Now when I say startups, I don’t mean startups only in technology we should also encourage in help young investasi naturally get into independent hotels rather than be part of a big chain. So there is a trend right now for example, you know that more and more people they want to experience an independent hotel and no big brands that’s why big brands they keep churning new brands every every month because customers want something new you know but getting out a new brand from Marriott is just gonna be another Marriott I’m sorry to say that I don’t think Marietta can really make a new brand you know they just make another Marriott which is called something else. But it still is a marriage so is the ultimate so isn’t a continental. So for as long as the we don’t help people you know and the young investors for example, young age first getting into business, you know, I think it’s gonna be very difficult to create something innovative really?
Michael Hingson ** 45:07
Well, when you look at, let’s say, Hilton, you’ve got Hilton Garden Inn, you got Hampton Inn and Suites and you’ve got Embassy Suites, for example, and they’re different but it all comes under the Hilton brand. Every Embassy Suites looks alike. I like Embassy Suites because of some of the amenities but is it really a major innovation I guess that’s a subject that people could probably debate although you
Rocco Bova ** 45:35
know and all these brands obviously they they they observed there was a segment and it was a niche market I was looking for that kind of product that’s why they created it which is fine. But can we can we really make something really unique you know really cool. You know, I think I think the last the last cool brand you know in hospitality was probably 30 years ago you know when the W hotels cave and then one where maybe you know this Ian striker for example, you know, it was kind of innovative in in creating this lifestyle cool vibe, you know, young models and Romanian women you know, going into this bars lively with school, live music, but you know, from there everybody coffee, coffee, coffee based, you know, it was not really innovation Any, any, any longer. So I think, I hope that there will be some some kind of change. So, yeah, the glamping is now coming up as a, you know, one of these hot topics at the moment. So, you know, cabins and tents and whatever, you know, everything that is luxury, you know, their conditioning, and they have all the amenities like a hotel, but they’re in the middle of the jungle, this is also kind of new, so it’s only five, six years old, this has become kind of very hot topic. But you know, let’s see, what’s what what else is gonna is gonna happen. That’s why I say personally, I didn’t want to reinvent the hotel. concept as such, I wanted to reinvent personally, you know, in my humble house, the business model more than the concept, because hotel concept at the end of the day is still the same, you know, no matter what you do is glamping? Or when is the luxury of big box Hotel?
Michael Hingson ** 47:20
There’s nothing wrong with that. No,
Rocco Bova ** 47:23
absolutely. Absolutely.
Michael Hingson ** 47:25
It’s it’s the other parts of the infrastructure, as you’re talking about that are an issue almost like the talent pool in general. What do you think the the hotel industry is going to have to do? And maybe the other way to look at it is what do you think that the talent is going to have to do to change to address some of the issues that we’re facing now? And you said that you think it’ll get worse over the next two years? What do you think has to change or will change that will kind of, hopefully bring things back to a little bit more even keel?
Rocco Bova ** 48:00
Well, one, the first we need to get back to school, you know, let’s look at the school system.
Michael Hingson ** 48:06
I was gonna ask about that. Go ahead. You know,
Rocco Bova ** 48:10
if you go to hotel school, what are they going to teach you first? And second? Who are the teachers teaching you? Yeah, you know, most of most teachers, probably the last job was 10 years ago, 15 years ago, then they got into teaching, and then everyone went back to work. So they’re teaching you something that they’ve learned 15 years ago, which is already obsolete, completely obsolete. You know, tell schools normally the same student, every every year, or your two years, they send them to six months internship. If I were in the school system, I will send the teachers every year, at least for one month, back to work to understand the same what really is going on in the industry, firsthand, no, through Google or books or whatever investigation, no, no, to leave exactly what’s happening in the industry. The second thing, I think that the programs are also, you know, they don’t teach students on how to get into work immediately. I mean, probably some school they do Vietnam, but but they don’t tell you the they don’t tell you real stuff. They only tell you the fluffy stuff, you know, what is beautiful and what works. So, you know, you can meet a lot of people just so true. But let’s talk about the real life story. You know, let’s talk about you know, let’s teach young students or how to make a choice between a m prime P. And people a MP will be you know, how can you choose the best people to work for, you know, one of the things that you need to look when you join a company, not just the brand, and how many awards and how many stars they have under their belt. But what are the leaders behind, you know, so important nowadays. And last but not the least, we should lower the expectation issue. You know, I think that many schools, they give you expectations of you know, when you come out from here, you become a manager? Well, I mean, it’s, you know, I remember I made something public some six months ago on LinkedIn. There was a Swissotel school which, you know, with their tagline, Thomas, a student, leave as a manager. Wait a minute, oh, my God, I obviously made it public. I was, I had, like, 22,000 likes or something like this with this post, I was very popular. And, and I also was approached by the school itself, you know, and they told me, Rocco? No, we mean that we didn’t want to say this specifically. But I said, Okay, well, what is that you want to say, you know, be honest with yourself and with the students, you cannot promise you cannot over promise and say, No, of course, you come to us and you become a manager doesn’t work like that, you know, you have to be honest, also, you know, with, with young young people, because to become a manager, it takes time to become a manager takes knowledge, you have to learn even more when you get out of school. And you have to go through rough time to understand that you know, how to become a manager. So, you know, I remember 113 years ago, four years ago, before the pandemic, you know, I had this student from a very prestigious Hotel School in Switzerland. And he said to me, I want to be a consultant. And I told him, okay, let’s talk about in 25 years, then I can tell you how to be a consultant. And he said to me Why 25 years, I said, because he took me 25 years to become a consultant. Now today, I can say, I can consult anyone because I’ve got the experience. But 25 years ago, I didn’t know how to consult. Google doesn’t tell me how to consult chat. GPT doesn’t tell me how to consult someone, people, they want to know exactly what to do with their business, you know, as a consultant, and my success depends on what I say to my client. So anyway, didn’t you didn’t like that, and then talk to me ever since. But that’s okay. Well, the other part about
Michael Hingson ** 52:17
it is that we live in a world that has been taught to demand instant gratification instant things. And the reality is, it doesn’t work that way. And you know that and I know that there are so many people who don’t understand that, you know, they come to our school as a student and leave as a manager, what are you teaching them about management? How are you doing it? And, you know, if they’re just doing the same old stuff, they’re not certainly teaching someone how to truly be a manager, because a manager isn’t just someone who knows how to run a hotel. But a manager has to learn the skills of how to deal with employees how to deal with the people who come to the hotel as guests, what what do you do? How do you do it? And how do you make people feel welcome on all sides?
Rocco Bova ** 53:12
Absolutely, in, you know, the most difficult part in our industry, or possibly any industry is actually dealing with people, you know, both customers and employees. But in our industry, I say more our industry, because our industry is made of people, you know, we deal with human failing, every single moment, every single is we’re dealing with people feelings. So the way you talk to people, the tone of voice, your body language, your attitude, your mood, influence everything and everyone around you. So if you don’t know how to control that, how to manage yourself first, how can you manage others? Impossible. Even less consulting? Come on, let’s get real. You know, so,
Michael Hingson ** 53:56
you’ve said that we’ve lost millions of people, because of the pandemic and so on, who will never come back? How do we work to get some of those people back? You
Rocco Bova ** 54:07
see, Michael, again, I go back to the title of your or your podcast unstoppable and that not everybody is unstoppable. Not everybody was actually able to have this stamina to continue no matter what. Not everybody was able to come over fear of not knowing what’s going to happen to them and to their family and to the to the loved one more. So. Being a stock unstoppable is not for everybody. I think that the people they knew or they became unstoppable because of their strength because of their willingness and because of their stamina. They made it and they will make it again you know, no matter what is going to happen next They will make it again. And, and I’ve learned that all the time, you know, it’s not the first crisis that I go through probably just like you. You know, my first big one was the the team Twin Tower in New York, you know, it wasn’t the Middle East at the time. And everyone coming from the Middle East was terrorists, no matter what, you know, we lost business one day to the next, you know, we went from 90% occupancy to zero in a matter of days. You know, when then then, when I was in Singapore, in 2003, we had the first pandemic, which didn’t spread as far as right as COVID. But SARS was just as bad for Southeast Asia was terrible, you know, all the hotels in Southeast Asia were empty. And then, and then we have 2008, the financial crisis. In 2007, I was in New Delhi, where they were a terrorist attack, you know, the Taj Mahal is on a surfboard. And then I went, I went, I was in Oman, and we had this Arab Spring. And then, now we are all we also have this, this pandemic, so it’s not the first time I go through a crisis. But a crisis also give a lot of opportunities. So if people get into fear, that’s where they get lost, that’s where they become. They don’t know, they don’t know what to do. They they get in panic, and then they freeze. Instead, when you get into crisis mode, you need to stay more focused, and understand, how can I make the most of this moment? What can I do now. And, believe it or not, so that you know, also, when I went in, when I went through this particular COVID, you know, it was also it was fearful for me, I cannot lie to you that I was very fearful. For the first time actually, I also came into this freezing position. But then after a few weeks, I start to talk to myself and say, You cannot do that. Now your family depends on you. Your livelihood depends on you. Your mental health depends on you, you got to do something. And then suddenly, I was listening to some podcasts, and then one guy is spying on me so much, I removed my fears immediately. And I and I, I went, I made a decision that actually change my life, change my life and change the life of the wonderful 50 employees that were working at a time in the company in in Chile, Yucatan, you know, when I was employed at the time, and guess what, from the moment, I became so much stronger, so much self confident, in so much secure that again, in, in a situation of of all of a crisis, that is an opportunity.
Michael Hingson ** 57:55
And isn’t that what it’s about? And I think that you realize that there are so many things that you can’t control. And as I talk about here, a lot there, excuse me, all the things that you you do have control over. And those are the ones that you have to address and you chose to let your fear be a tool for you. And you chose to not fear and be overwhelmed by stuff. And yeah, COVID is certainly something that affects all of us, and affected all of us. And I don’t know when or if that is going to totally go away. I don’t know how, you know, I don’t know how it’s going to progress. They’re talking about there being a major upsurge during the winter. And that’s very possibly going to happen. And we’re going to have to deal with that. But that isn’t something that I have control over. That isn’t something that you have control over. But we certainly do have control over how we choose to deal with it. And whether we allow fear to overwhelm us or whether we allow fear to strengthen us, which is what you’re talking about here.
Rocco Bova ** 59:09
Absolutely. And become a stalker.
Michael Hingson ** 59:12
And, you know, I, I think everyone can be unstoppable. But many people choose not to learn to grow. And unstoppable in part also really requires that you look at yourself. People don’t like to do that.
Rocco Bova ** 59:30
Yep. Yeah, absolutely. I can only agree with you with that.
Michael Hingson ** 59:34
So it is a challenge. Well, any last things, any last thoughts that you want to add to what we’ve talked about? We’ve been doing this for an hour and I’ve really enjoyed it, especially the last five minutes. I love what you’ve had to say but any anything that you want to leave his final thoughts for us? Well,
Rocco Bova ** 59:54
Michael, I can only say that the hospitality industry is the most one The whole industry in the world, I will not change this for anything, I will do everything all over again for another billion times. I love I keep loving the industry I think is still a wonderful place to be something that you can teach to others. The hospitality industry teaches you a lot, by the way, as is, is an industry that prepares you for so many things, you know, you have situation of fires, bombs, explosion, you name it, you know, everything happens in hotel, you know, you know that. And, and definitely is I mean to say I would recommend it to anyone because he makes you a better person. That’s why I was so glad when my son told me that he was going to study hospitality management. So I’m very proud of even and on my daughter as well, because maybe she will get into the industry as well, even though she’s studying marketing doesn’t say that maybe she’s not gonna join the industry, too. So let’s see that.
Michael Hingson ** 1:01:03
We’ll see how that goes. Have you written any books?
Rocco Bova ** 1:01:07
You know what? I’m not gonna lie to you. But the last book I read was The the biography of Steve Jobs.
Michael Hingson ** 1:01:16
But you’ve gotten any? Oh, go ahead.
Rocco Bova ** 1:01:19
No, I will say that, you know, I don’t like I don’t like to I don’t like Hubble as a branch. I’m not an Apple guy. I’m silly. I have my laptop, my window. And my phone is is Google, Google face Google software. So I’m not an Apple guy. However, I love how Apple was born and grew, they grew up to become what it is. Today’s a global brand is one of the most successful brands, you know, ever, ever invented. In I love how Steve Jobs actually made this brand. What are these? Today, if today, Steve Jobs was alive, I think that happened would have been 10 times more successful. Today, I agree at least at least 10 times. So I love the guy, but I don’t like apple. Sorry. Sorry, for everybody else, you know, well, I
Michael Hingson ** 1:02:17
I like the iPhone, because it’s more it’s the most accessible smartphone. Now that happened, in part because Apple was going to be sued if they didn’t fix it, but they chose to do it. And they did a great job. There about 95% There, there are still things that they should do that they’re not but you know, overall, I know what you’re saying as far as the hospitality industry. So you haven’t written your own book yet. And maybe someday he’ll decide to do that.
Rocco Bova ** 1:02:47
Let’s see. I’m still too young, off. Hopefully, before I retire, I consider that and see I need to I need to find a ghostwriter. And perhaps somebody can help me with that.
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:00
They’re out there. And yes, so maybe that that’s certainly something that’s good to do. Well, my first book was published when I was 61. So see, there you go. You got eight years. Exactly. Well, I want to thank you, Rocco, for being with us. This has been a lot of fun. And I think not only inspirational, but I’ve learned a lot and I love to hear your your discussions about business and so on, which validates so many things. So thank you for doing it and for being here with us. And I want to thank you for listening out there. We really appreciate it. Rocco, if people want to reach out to you how do they do that?
Rocco Bova ** 1:03:39
It Michael, I’m I’m very active on LinkedIn. So you can type of my full name Rocco Bova, you can definitely find that I know many people with my name. So can you spell that?
Michael Hingson ** 1:03:49
Could you spell it please? Yes,
is R O C C O that’s my name. And my family name is B O V A. So you can find me very easily on LinkedIn. And then you you can follow me and I’ll be very happy to follow back. And, you know, let’s learn from each other. You know, I make my profile, open and public so people can actually reach out you can send me a message without being connected as well. So I reply to everyone that sent me a message. So reach out if you want to have an opinion, or if you want, just talk to me. I’ll be happy to do so.
Michael Hingson ** 1:04:29
There you go. So reach out to Rocco and tell him what you think and have a discussion with him. I enjoyed this and we’re going to stay in touch for sure. And I hope that wherever you’re listening, you’ll give us a five star rating we would really appreciate that. And of course, as always, I really value getting your emails and your comments and if you’d like to email me, please do so at Michaelhi at accessibe.com that’s m i c h a e l h i at a c c e s s i b e.com. I’m gonna go to our podcast page, which is www dot Michael hingson.com/podcast. And Michael hingson is m i c h a e l h i n g s o n all one word. But please give us a five star rating. Reach out to Rocco. I think you’d have a fun time discussing this with him and whatever you want to talk about with him. So I think it makes perfect sense to do and I hope that people will reach out to you, Rocco. And once again, I want to just thank you for being here with us and making us be able to be a part of your day
Rocco Bova ** 1:05:34
has been a pleasure. Thank you so much for the invitation.
**Michael Hingson ** 1:05:41
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com . AccessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for Listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.

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