Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Swinburn

John Swinburn

Executive Director, Mystery Shopping Providers Association

John Swinburn is Executive Director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), a position he has held for eleven years. In this role, he has developed a keen understanding of the crucial importance to a company's image, and to its bottom line, of regularly measuring and successfully managing the customer experience. Several of the association's member companies specialize in hospitality industry customer experience measurement and management, giving him the opportunity to learn about industry-specific issues related to hotels' customer experience. That access, coupled with a career in association management spanning more than thirty years—many of which have been spent in various components of the hospitality industry—has given him a unique perspective on the ways in which both organizations and individuals perceive and respond to hotel brands. During his tenure with MSPA, Mr. Swinburn was instrumental in launching an annual industry operating ratio survey, the results of which member companies can use as benchmarks for their own financial and operational performance. "I am a firm believer in the concept that 'what gets measured gets done' and it just makes sense that the mystery shopping industry, which is all about measurement, should have its own internal measures to ensure good performance," he says. Mr. Swinburn was involved in the process which transformed MSPA from what had been a primarily North American association into a global organization with four distinct and largely autonomous geographic regions serving the North American, European, Asia-Pacific, and Latin American markets. Prior to forming his own association management company, Challenge Management, Inc. (which includes MSPA as a client), he served as executive director of what is now the International Association of Venue Managers and as senior vice president and chief operating officer of what is now the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. Earlier in his career, while employed by two Chicago-based association management companies, he served as executive director of several trade associations and professional societies. Mr. Swinburn graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor of arts degree. He took graduate level courses at Sam Houston State University.

Mr. Swinburn can be contacted at 972-406-1104 or info@mysteryshop.org

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.