Mr. Hogan

Diversity Issues

Understanding the Story and Meaning of DIWALI

By John Hogan, Director of Education & Cultural Diversity, Best Western

2005 will likely be remembered as a year of questions and wondering. People ask questions and globally wonder about the power of nature, as various parts of the planet experienced records in tsunami damage and fire in the Eastern World. Floods and wind destruction resulting from the highest number of hurricanes ever reported in the Western World dominated the news for months.

Continuing acts of terrorism around the globe, coupled with the threat of additional wars on several continents, all contributed to a world that is troubled and torn apart by a lack of understanding and trust.

Mukesh Mowji, 2005 vice chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, authored a short editorial in the November issue of the AAHOA Lodging Business magazine titled "Illuminating the Way: DIWALI and the Community". (1) In this article, he encouraged people of all nationalities to join in this "Festival of Lights" which begins on November 1st and to give thanks for the health, good fortune, knowledge and happiness that so many people have.

In researching this article, I found that despite the facts that India has the 2nd largest population in the world and Indians have made major contributions in many industries, DIWALI is a holiday known to only a limited number of Westerners. With that in mind, I discovered the following:

What might an observer who knew nothing of this Eastern holiday think if asked to compare certain Western holidays? A 2004 online article (2) did just that in the following observations:

A few weeks after these Eastern holidays, the Christian community marks Christmas and people from a number of other faiths observe their annual feasts.

What does this all mean then?

In New Zealand, the Festival of Lights is an event that has the participation of at least two City Councils (Wellington and Auckland) and a host of government and non-government bodies and private organisations. The annual event, held in the two major cities, is getting better, bigger and more colourful year after year. In addition, a number of local community centres and societies organise events to spread the Indian heritage and culture. More important, human traits of goodwill and understanding.

In the United Kingdom, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales recalled how DIWALI had become a major festival in the country. "It is encouraging to see young people planning for the future of this and other festivals, thereby ensuring the development and continuity in this country," he said. He said festivals such as DIWALI helped 'the all-important cause of cultural understanding between different communities that made up the British people.' (3)

Is there really "room" for everyone?

The Honorable David Kilgour, spoke to that very point in a talk given at a Multicultural Coalition Workshop in Edmonton, Canada in February 2005. (4)

He spoke of how he viewed that newcomers to Canada were a valuable resource, bringing skills, culture and different perspectives which all contributed to his country's long-term prosperity. He addressed the history that Canada was built on immigration, and that Canada had extended its protection to newcomers and afforded them the opportunity to fulfill their human potential.

One of his most significant points was his realization that Canada, among other nations, requires immigration in order to maintain a stable population in a period when total fertility rates among natural born citizens are below the percentage required to maintain current population size. He estimated that if the population of Canada were allowed to begin to decline, subsequent generations of Canadians would inevitably face a declining standard of living. He felt it imperative to work to effectively integrate immigrants into Canada's socio-economic fabric in more effective manners, including filling gaps in the labor market.

It is estimated that the United States and Canada will be facing low unemployment rates by 2010, while at the same time creating an additional 13.7 million jobs in the service industry alone. (5) While the United States is not facing the same precise challenge with fertility rates among natural born citizens, the fact remains there is a need to expand the hospitality industry work force by making it more attractive than has often been the case.

To be globally competitive, each of us must recognize the potential of our human capital. As the brand wars in every industry intensify on a global basis, it is critical now more than ever to recognize that we live in a globalized world in which human mobility has reached unprecedented levels.

DIWALI to Ramadan to Christmas

Rather than look at the differences in people with suspicion or a sense of doing what is viewed as politically correct, we must take the time to learn about the commonality of purpose in life that is shared by all. After all, people from everywhere in the world would rather celebrate joy than be engaged in anger.

John Hogan, MBA CHE CHA MHS is the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for Best Western International. He serves on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity including the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the AAHOA Education and eCommerce Committee and is the Best Western liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners' Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program. He has published more than 200 articles & columns on the hotel industry. Mr. Hogan can be contacted at 602-957-5810 or john.hogan@bestwestern.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

JULY: Hotel Spa: The Expanding Wellness Movement

Lynne  McNees

According to the International SPA Association (ISPA) 2013 U.S. Spa Industry study conducted by PwC, 72 percent of American hotel and resort spas in 2012 offered 30-minute treatments. This figure shows how hotels are rapidly equipping themselves to cater to the spa needs of business guests. Business travelers are typified by little time and higher-than-average levels of stress – and spas need to adapt to their demands for short, simple, efficient and results-oriented treatments. Spa guests traveling on business are looking to find a balance they can squeeze into short breaks between meetings, presentations and travel time, and spas everywhere must learn to be flexible, customizable, succinct, connected, knowledgeable and memorable in order to attract and retain this increasingly important market. READ MORE

Peggy Borgman

When you think of “wellness,” what comes to mind? A “healthy” hotel room? A holistic spa treatment? Vegan offerings on your restaurant menu? A morning yoga class? The word “wellness” is ubiquitous. Marketers are spreading “wellness” as thick as organic hummus on a vast array of consumer products, services and experiences. But has this word lost its impact, and heaven forbid—its cachet for the traveler? Is wellness…”over”? READ MORE

Dale  Hipsh

Is anyone else nervous leaving their mobile phone behind, in a locker, all by itself, TURNED OFF, when having a spa treatment? I know I should not be, but I am. Spa goers have traditionally visited with the intent to disconnect, to unplug if you will. At Hard Rock our goal for the Rock Spa experience is meant to plug you in, amp you up and maybe even turn you on. We began our re-tool from this perceptive. Times have changed and many spa operators have not evolved as technology and hospitality brands have. To this end we went about seeking to discover a new way forward to enliven the senses, instill wellbeing and infuse the spirit of rock and roll into our newly envisioned experience. Our objective was stated to energize and excite – we want guests to leave our bespoke treatments ready to hit the dance floor and show the rest of the band how it’s done. Rock Spa is where Zen meets Zeppelin. READ MORE

Simon Hudson

An increasing number of hotels are responding to growing global demand for health and wellness and are catering to the physical and psychological needs of guests while promising enhanced wellbeing – benefits that visitors can take home when the holiday is over. A far cry from more traditional vacations spent lounging on a beach or poolside chair. Westin hotels, for example, recently launched a Well-Being Movement and even Las Vegas’s MGM Hotel has Stay-Well rooms. This article focuses on this trend and spotlights certain hotels around the world and the specific services they are providing for the growing number of health-conscious visitors. READ MORE

Coming Up In The August Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Food and Beverage: Investing to Keep Pace
After five harrowing years of recession and uncertain recovery, revenues in the hotel industry (including food and beverage) have finally surpassed the previous peak year of 2007. Profits are once again on the rise and are expected to advance for the foreseeable future. The consequence of this situation means that hotel operators now have the funds to invest in their food and beverage operations in order to keep pace with rapidly changing industry trends and the evolving tastes of their hotel guests. One of the most prominent recent trends is the “Locavore Movement” which relies heavily on local sources to supply products to the hotel restaurant. In addition to fresh produce, meats and herbs, some operators are engaging local craft breweries, distilleries, bakers, coffee roasters and more to enhance their food and beverage options, and to give their operation a local identity. This effort is designed to increasingly attract local patrons, as well as traveling hotel guests. Some hotels are also introducing menus that cater to both the calorie and the ingredient conscious. Gluten-free, low-cal and low-carb menu items prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients are available to more fitness-minded guests. Another trend is placing greater emphasis on “comfort” and “street” foods which are being offered in more casual settings. The idea is to allow chefs to create their own versions of these classic recipes, with the understanding that the general public seems to be eschewing more formal dining options. Finally, because the hotel lobby is becoming the social epicenter of its operation – a space which both guests and locals can enjoy – more diverse and expanded food and beverage options are available there. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on all the recent trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and document what some leading hotels are doing to augment this area of their business.