LSBF Great Minds: Hyatt Regency’s Michael Gray Talks Innovation and Career Potential in the Hospitality Industry
Michael Gray, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, and Area Vice President for the UK and Ireland for Hyatt International, has spoken out about the hospitality industry and the great career paths it has to offer.
Speaking to London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) as part of the Great Minds video series in the luxurious surroundings of The Churchill (the company’s London branch under his management), Mr Gray described hospitality sector careers as ‘wonderful’.
Mr Gray said of the industry: “You hear the phrases ‘long hours’, ‘hard work’, ‘not such good pay’, and I think – unfairly - it’s had such a bad press over the years. You will have a fantastic career in hospitality; you’re dealing with people every day, it’s very exciting to be a part of. Wherever you are, I think hospitality can offer a young person a tremendous career path.”
“We recognise the qualities in people pretty soon after they join us, so it can be a very fast track industry, as well,” Mr Gray added. “If you join at a junior level and we spot you, if you’ve got a good personality and you’re good with people, we will move you up that ladder very fast. Today, we have general managers [in their] late twenties, so it’s a fast moving industry.”
Mr Gray began his career at Claridge’s, London, moving to the Carlton Tower in 1974 and when Hyatt International took over in 1982, he was promoted to Resident Manager.
After working for Hyatt in Singapore and Australia, Mr Gray returned to London in 1990 as General Manager, becoming Area Director in 2010. His long and successful career in hospitality was recognised in 2007 when he was named Hotelier of the Year.
Innovation plays an important part in the hospitality industry, and this is something which Mr Gray emphasises.
“We recognise that clients need change over the years and over the decades. The basic needs will always be required: a friendly welcome, a comfy bed, good food, whatever you need on tap. But the way reservations are made, the speed of reservations with technology… Hyatt, over the last few years, has recognised this [needs constant change] and innovation is absolutely key.”
“Customers have more and more choices now, so the more we can personalise their experience with us and pre-empt what they will require when they’re here [the better]. We’re very fortunate in Hyatt and especially in this hotel, over fifty per cent of our guests have stayed with us before so we get to know our guests. The key is trying to find out in advance what the guest likes and delivering that, so personalisation, which is one of the key factors in our whole innovation programme, is very important.”
LSBF Great Minds Series
As well as offering programmes dedicated to fostering leadership skills, London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) also endeavours to provide students with insight and inspiration through a number of innovative resources. One of these initiatives is the LSBF Great Minds Series: a collection of video interviews with leading business and political leaders promoting debate on education, employability, entrepreneurship and the economy.
The video series started in 2011 with a conversation with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, followed by an interview with former Education Secretary Lord Kenneth Baker. In 2012, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group said that universities worldwide should become hubs to boost entrepreneurship and inspire self-starters to develop their own businesses. In 2014, LSBF spoke to Will Butler-Adams from Brompton Bicycle, Guy Hayward-Cole from Nomura Bank International, with former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, entrepreneur and investor Deborah Meaden, Google UK sales director Kevin Mathers and BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie.
In 2015, LSBF hosted interviews with Andrew Miller, CEO of Guardian Media Group; Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald's UK; Kevin Costello, CEO of Haymarket Group; Amy McPherson, CEO of Marriott Hotels Europe; veteran BAFTA-winning broadcaster Jon Snow; live chats with Kevin Ellis, Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Guy Hands, Founder of Terra Firma and many others.
In February 2016, the series won the prestigious Editor’s Award at the PQ Magazine Awards 2016.