Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Tufano

Phil Tufano

Partner & Chief Operating Officer, Kokua Hospitality

Phil Tufano had dedicated more than 30 years to mastering the art of adaptability in the hospitality industry. Overseeing a company with a portfolio of eight U.S. hotels of both independent and global hospitality brands, he leads Kokua Hospitality with the keyword of “open mindedness” front of mind. It’s a philosophy that he has fine-tuned throughout his career in managing and repositioning hotels, which he instills in his operations teams at the Chicago-based company with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Jacksonville, FL. “Leadership is what distinguishes mediocre organizations from exceptional ones,” Mr. Tufano says. “People will mostly remember how you made them feel over what you said. Associates perform for managers they like, and for organizations they respect and believe in.” During his time at Kokua, Mr. Tufano has nearly quadrupled the team from an office of three people when he first came on board in 2007, while establishing Kokua as an industry-respected, third-party manager overseeing properties for Chartres Lodging Group, one of the largest hotel ownership groups in the United States. He notably oversaw the conversion of the 25-year-old Ocean Resort Hotel in Hawaii into the Hyatt Place Waikiki in 2011. In the three years that followed the reflagging, Kokua nearly tripled the net operating income to make the property one of the most successful Hyatt Place Hotels in the brand. Prior to joining Kokua, Mr. Tufano served in a senior management capacity at luxury resorts, as well as urban, convention, and all-suite properties during the 21 years he worked under the Global Hyatt Corporation umbrella. He made a significant impact on sales at properties across the United States and the Caribbean, as well as on the people around him by always bringing an enthusiasm and motivation that he fluently expresses. “In general, people want to do the right things, perform well, and be recognized so they can advance in their careers,” he says. “As a manager, you need to understand what skills your team needs to develop, openly communicate this, and give them the tools and guidance that they need to grow. From my experience, attitude equals altitude.”

Mr. Tufano can be contacted at 312-219-8050 or phil.tufano@kokuahospitality.com

Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.