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This Hotel Chain Has Formed A Millennial-Only Executive Committee

If you can’t beat them, embrace them

Craig Cochrane, senior VP human resources at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.

Managing millennials in the workplace has been a hot topic in the human resource circles for the past few years. At Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts though, it looks like it might have to come up with an interesting approach.

Earlier this year, it announced it had put together a 10-person millennials-only executive committee, abbreviated as Excom-Y. Of it, six are employees of the Swiss hospitality group, and four are young business leaders from around the world.

The intention? To work with the main executive team to get fresh ideas on how to attract and retain the next generation of guests and talent.

“As we embark on an unprecedented growth phase, expanding our portfolio at a rapid rate, it’s paramount we seek input and insights from our colleagues, particularly our young talent, who possess an intimate understanding of Generation Y trends,” says Craig Cochrane, the company’s senior VP human resources.

Mövenpick has seen relative success in attracting this market segment, with them accounting for more than 30 per cent of its guests.

The idea of putting Excom-Y together came about in November last year, when Mövenpick launched a project called Transform 2017. It involved identifying a list of 45 initiatives across all aspects of the business, to be deployed within six months – one of them become this youthful committee.

Cochrane put out a call for applications and had the candidates go through a selection process. Although it only had six positions to fill, the response was overwhelming, with more than 80 applicants who were keen.

“We knew we had to achieve a diverse and well-balanced committee, so this knowledge helped guide our decisions. Both operational departments and non-operational departments needed to be represented, in addition to people from the various regions where we operate. We also wanted to balance male and female participation,” he says. 

Members of Excom-Y pretty much mirror what the main Executive Committee does, and are given full access to confidential information such as financials and business plans. “They have a genuine responsibility from the very start to look at things with a fresh perspective. “They work closely with us on strategic projects and right now, they are playing a key role in reshaping and redefining the Mövenpick Guest Experience,” Cochrane shares.

While it is easy to think that their age, and consequently lack of experience, might be a barrier, the opposite is true. “The greatest value-add they offer is the very fact that they have not yet had the time to become ‘jaded’ by life experience, or experts in ‘what cannot be done’. They do not see the obstacles first, but the opportunities and this is vital to us,” he explains.

Already, the effectiveness of Excom-Y is evident. In the first meeting with them – one of approximately five in a year – they were asked for their thoughts on developing an app for the hotel chain, which has been on the radar for awhile. They advised against it, citing reasons such as “apps are dying; we don’t like them; we don’t want to download or update them; if the app sits past the second screen swipe of our phone, we don’t look at them”.

“They saved us time and money going in a direction without a future, but also got us thinking about alternatives and web-based – rather than app-based – service improvements,” reveals Cochrane. 

He expects that Excom-Y will be here to stay. It is designed so that seven members renew at the end of each year, and three new ones join to keep it fresh, relevant and aspirational for those who could not join in the past. 

“Business from millennials constitute a sizeable and growing part of our business, so looking at this from a strategic long-term view makes sense. That said, it could also be that this initiative eventually evolves to incorporate Generation Z, which will enter the mainstream marketplace soon.”

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