Churchillian Inspirations for Hotels

This short column is dedicated to one of the greatest statesmen that ever lived. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was best known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War. He served his country valiantly at a time when all hope was just about lost.

My parents lived through this period; both served our nation, as did most others of the Greatest Generation. To them, Churchill was among the most influential individuals of their time, and even as he becomes an ever-distant part of our history, his words remain timeless.

Specifically for hotels, our current situation can easily be seen as an economic war and a struggle for our industry’s survival. We battle daily for guests’ hearts and minds as they are increasingly distracted by fragmented media, new entrants like Airbnb and bargain basement shopping habits. We fight and bicker over such things as the best rate guarantee and getting customers to book direct.

Yes, our industry is changing. As sad it is to say, this evolution will leave a few in the dust. But it isn’t doom and gloom, nor should it be viewed as such. Most of us who tough it out will slowly adapt to new conditions and a new competitive landscape.

In reviewing Churchill’s most famous quotations, I could not help but see the parallels between his political tenure and our current state of affairs. Put in perspective, the situation we are confronted with today doesn’t hold a thumb to what he and his people endured.

From 1939 through 1941, Britain faced an Axis juggernaut that had overrun Continental Europe and was only 19 nautical miles – the width of the English Channel – away from being in a similarly absorbed. Even when America entered the war, the British people still faced daily bombardment.

Through it all, Churchill addressed his nation through regular radio broadcasts. As you read each one of these excerpted quotes, try to think not just of the time when these words were spoken, but rather how they could be repurposed as a rally cry for our industry. I encourage you to use anyone of these as a lead in your efforts to restore business lustre.

  • “We shall not fail or falter. We shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”
  • “Every man should ask himself each day whether he is not too readily accepting negative solutions.”
  • “Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”

“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”

(This quotation is attributed first to Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), but modified by Churchill for a speech he gave in early 1941.)

And perhaps the most famous, which should be every hotelier’s motto:

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published by HotelsMag on May 3, 2016).