Thursday, 19 May 2016

Face to Face with Federico J Gonzalez Tejera, CEO of the NH Hotels Group - A Transformation Affair

Lyssiemay Annoh chats to the Madrileño making radical changes at the NH Hotels Group 

Madrileño Federico J Gonzalez Tejera, CEO of NH Hotel Group had a lot to “grin” about as he officially launched the NH Collection in Germany on 12 May 2016.  He comes to the NH Hotels Group with a personal vision a goal for the company.  Ultimately, he wants every traveller to seek an NH Hotel first before settling for any other hotel at any destination that they travel to.

After 16 years with Procter and Gamble, 8 years at Disney, Federico J. Gonzalez Tejera switched to the NH Hotel Group where, as Chief Executive Officer, he manages all areas of the company with the responsibility of complying with the strategic five-year business plan*, expanding and developing the different areas as well as consolidating NH brands.  These are exciting times for the Madrileño, who since 2015 has been a member of the Executive Committee of the World Travel and Tourism Council

Lyssiemay Annoh, Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller Magazine met with Federico J Gonzalez Tejera in Berlin on 12 May 2016 in a bid to discover the real person behind the NH Group transformation.

From a multinational consumer company to Disneyland and now you are leading the NH Hotels Group, how does it feel?
It feels good because I joined the company at an exciting time of transformation.  I am here to see the transformation through, add value and have fun while doing so and this is really happening.

Who is the man behind Federico J Gonzalez Tejera?
He is a curious man who is trying to do well.  I like finding interesting projects to challenge myself but above all, I like to have fun while implementing them.

What drives you?
As I have grown in my career, I am conscious of how many people I affect in my life. Leading a hotel business with a community with a diverse workforce of almost 19,000 employees of 141 different nationalities, nearly 15% of which work in countries other than their home nations, who work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, makes me proud; because every day, these people go through experiences and I share these experiences with them.

I envisage opportunities, and then I want to get it done quickly because I want to increase the Group’s hotel assets and this makes me ambitiously impatient. My philosophy is that if you envisage something positive, why wait?

What personal achievement or legacy do you want to leave with the NH Hotels Group?
I am revitalizing a company with over 18 million employees all full of pride and very passionate about their jobs.  I have been fortunate to manage a transformation that has provided adequate financial tools to enable us to create a picture of the future.   At the end of it all, my ambition is that when anyone travels for leisure or business, they will always ask themselves if there is an NH Hotel in the area first before going for a second option.  This goal summarizes my ambition from the beginning of the process and the employees agree with me and this makes them happy.

What is the rationale behind the VIP Level at the NH Collection hotels?
We created the VIP Level because for me, luxury is subjective to the user.  Our VIP status is a matter of segmentation to the user.  By this I mean that a 3-star hotel could be luxury to someone who usually uses 1-star hotels.  Many of our NH hotels especially the NH Collection could be classified as a five-star hotel but businesses today do not want to be seen as using five-star properties especially as they are conscious of sending the wrong messages by allowing employees to stay in five-star properties for business purposes.  For this reason, and in order not to lose our business clientele, we created a VIP status to offer them a little more.  It is all a matter of expectations and the service is available at all our NH Collection hotels.

Do you seek to surprise your guests?
Yes, all the time.  I have an obsession to excel with our basics so as to achieve the surprise element. We do this very well with our showers for example where we provide large shower heads in most rooms or rain showers in some of the rooms.  We also use symbols on the telephone to facilitate dialing the reception desk for example.  There is also an element of surprise with the lighting and televisions.  As a matter of fact, I tend to surprise myself by trying some of the products we have developed in the hotel in my own home to see how it feels.

Finally, if you had to change anything at all in the world, what would it be?
It will have to be starvation.  I don’t have a plan yet, but I will work on it.  I am also happy to work with anyone who has a plan.

*Under the NH Hotel Group five-year plan drawn in 2014, CEO Federico J Gonzalez Tejera will concentrate particularly on:
  • 1.       Clear segmentation of the hotel portfolio under the new overall brand
  • 2.       Promotion of customer satisfaction through high quality products and services
  • 3.       Increase in brand recognition though enhanced communication activities in the context of a comprehensive advertising campaign for NH hotels
  • 4.       Optimization regarding technical equipment