By Artur Lupashko, the founder of the Ribas Hotels Group

In any industry, there are eminent figures who not only make history but also shape its further development. I would like to introduce you to some of the most famous figures whose names have become symbols of change in the hotel business. All the innovations and standards set by these people have contributed greatly to developing and shaping the modern hotel industry.

César Ritz (1850-1918)

César Ritz was a Swiss-born hotelier, nicknamed the "King of Hoteliers, and Hotelier to Kings". César Ritz founded the legendary Hotel Ritz in Paris in 1898. The hotel has become the pinnacle of luxury and set new standards in the hospitality industry.

César Ritz is known for his perfectionism, unwavering attention to detail and impeccable service. He has introduced standards such as uniforms for employees, 24-hour service and bathrooms in every room.

Ritz strongly promoted the idea that “the customer is always right”. This has now become one of the fundamental principles in the hospitality industry.

Conrad Nicholson Hilton (1887-1979)

Conrad Hilton was an American entrepreneur and the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain. He is known as one of the pioneers of the hotel business, who created the concept of motel and also invented a hotel star rating system, which is now used all over the world.

Hilton hotels were linked by a common concept that was revolutionary in the hotel market. Specifically, every room offered guests a number of amenities such as bathroom perfumes, bathrobe and slippers, and an in-room bar. Another feature was that you could buy everything you needed for traveling in the hotel. Thanks to this standardization, the hotels had a distinctive identity.

Conrad Hilton also introduced a franchise system that allowed his company to expand rapidly around the world. Today, the chain operates 7,000 hotels in more than 120 countries.

His book “Be My Guest” has become a go-to book for hotel owners and staff in many countries.

John Willard Marriott (1900-1985)

John Willard Marriott was an American entrepreneur and the founder of Marriott International. He is renowned for his innovative marketing strategy and customer focus.

He was a born hands-on manager and took great pleasure in visiting outlying hotels, which were increasing in number, where he talked to employees, the number of which kept growing, because, in his opinion, it was they who were the secret of success. “Take care of your employees, and they'll take care of your customers”, John Willard Marriott used to say to managers, and this approach formed the basis of Marriott International's corporate culture.

He also launched the Marriott Rewards loyalty program, which has become one of the most popular in the world and is still in use even now.

Today, Marriott International includes 8,700 hotels in 139 countries.

Charles Kemmons Wilson (1913 - 2003)

Charles Kemmons Wilson was an American hotelier who founded the legendary Holiday Inn chain of hotels.

Once, while on vacation, he experienced poor quality service and concluded that hospitality is the most underdeveloped service industry worldwide. As a result, Wilson decided to found a chain of hotels that would be family-friendly, clean, comfortable, and offer a range of additional services.

He is called “the father of the modern hotel” because he revolutionized the travel industry by offering affordable, comfortable and dependable lodging. His business model enabled the Holiday Inn to expand rapidly. The business went international in 1960, and by 1964, there were more than 500 Holiday Inn hotels worldwide. Today, the Holiday Inn brand is part of the IHG Hotels & Resorts network, which includes 6,000 hotels worldwide.

Isadore Sharp (born 1931)

Isadore Sharp was born in Canada to Polish Jewish immigrants. He is considered to be one of the most distinguished figures in the hospitality industry, having founded the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts hotel chain. Under his authority, it has grown to become one of the world's leading hotel chains, known for its impeccable service and exquisite design. The chain currently operates 128 hotels and resorts in 47 countries.

Sharp authored the book “Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy”. He emphasizes superior quality, exceptional service, corporate culture and a one-of-a-kind brand identity to be among the secrets of his success. And it’s, of course, people, “an army of good people”.

Horst Schulze (born 1939)

Horst Schulze, a German hotelier, started his career in the hotel business from the very bottom. He co-founded the Ritz-Carlton, an international luxury hotel chain. Under his leadership, the chain has evolved into a symbol of luxury, refinement and exceptional service. The Ritz-Carlton is now part of Marriott International, Inc. The brand operates more than 100 hotels in 32 countries.

Schulze believes that the key to success in the hotel business is not just providing services, but building an emotional connection with the guest. In his work, he has sought to have every guest feel not only like a client, but also like a part of the Ritz-Carlton’s big family. Schulze has focused on the smallest details, on providing personalized service to every guest and on achieving excellent quality in every endeavor.

Schulze is the author of a number of books in which he has shared practical advice on hospitality and provided readers an incentive to develop their business.

Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 1950)

Richard Branson is a British entrepreneur, the founder of the Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Hotels. He is known for his unconventional approach to business and his commitment to innovation. Virgin Hotels are positioned as “hotels for people who hate hotels”. The hotel chain offers a casual atmosphere and contemporary design.

Virgin Hotels are renowned for their innovative service offerings. These include flexible rates and customized services that are tailored to allow guests to choose what best suits their needs.

The Virgin Hotels chain now includes six hotels in Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, Las Vegas (all in the United States) and Edinburgh (Scotland).

It's worth noting that Branson has published a number of books on business in which he has revealed the behind-the-scenes secrets of some of his riskiest and boldest business decisions.

Thanks to the contributions of these prominent personalities, the hotel industry has established new standards and innovative approaches. Their influence extends to every corner of the world and encourages the hotel business to implement high standards of service and develop new hospitality concepts. In Ukraine, these standards are a source of inspiration for hotels aspiring to achieve a high level of service and create unique experiences that meet the latest needs of guests.

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