European HSMAI initiative to go global with Mike Leven onboard

HSMAI Region Europe’s mentor program and Winning for Customers – The Service Pledge program, developed over the course of several years, are about to be introduced for a wider audience.

‘For many years HSMAI in Europe has nurtured plans for the Winning for Customers – The Service Pledge concept, an initiative made to improve the quality of service and to assist companies and organizations to develop their Service Pledge – internally and externally, to increase pride and satisfaction among employees and thereby contributing to increased profitability, says HSMAI Region Europe President and CEO Ingunn Hofseth

The Mike Leven Mentor Program

Winning for Customers – The Service Pledge based on Mike Leven’s philosophy

‘For many years I have wondered what strategy is most important amongst the many. I now believe the Winning for Customers – The Service Pledge is the single best,’ Mike Leven says in a recent remark.

Most companies have a vision. Many also have a set of values. It is HSMAI Region Europe’s conviction that it should be equally important to have a vision that relates to the company’s service delivery, service recovery and service reputation. These are among the things the Service Pledge program will help create. The program is based on four pillars; Customer Service, Company Culture, Communication and Service Recovery, integrated, seamlessly and positively, to make a considerable difference in how the organization’s customer service and the credibility of its Service Pledge are perceived.

Coaching for execs

In addition to the Winning for Customers – The Service Pledge program, an international platform for mentoring travel and hospitality executives is underway, in the form of The Mike Leven Mentoring Program.

‘We see a need for coaching in order to reach our goal. General Managers and head office employees need coaching, too, which is why the mentor program has to go hand in hand with the Service Pledge initiative. For the HSMAI Region Europe Mentor Program we will start with the leaders who have the right passion and attitudes,’ Hofseth explains.

‘We will reach out to those who show their passion for developing others and are willing to share insights and experience with other industry professionals. The mentor program will be held in Mike Leven’s name. We believe in his leadership philosophy. We want to handpick the mentors who have the same values and the same passion to implement that philosophy,’ she says.

The planned initiatives include mentor coaching in Florida with Mike (for potential mentors), a 2019 summer camp in Europe, video and webinars, material og video clips for the knowledge bank and more.

‘For the last four years I have spent a lot of time with Mike and we like to work together,’ Ingunn Hofseth says, adding: ‘The two initiatives are closely related. Mike Leven will provide a donation of USD 100,000, divided on USD 50,000 each year for two years.  In addition he will assist us in our coaching. We are now looking for persons and companies who share the same vision and passion, and will help us to fund and be part of this wonderful initiative’.

The launch of the initiative will take place in London in September.  Please contact Silvia Kolk at for more information.

About Mike Leven

Michael A. Leven, also known as Mike, has been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Georgia Aquarium, Inc. since January 2015 in his sort-of-retirement years.

Before that he was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

A longtime industry leader and a “hotel icon”, Michael is currently the Volunteer Chief Executive Officer of the Georgia Aquarium. He has an impressive career in hospitality with over 50 years of experience in top positions in hotels. Until 3 years ago Michael has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation where he leveraged his sales and leadership skills to turnaround the largest hotel gaming company in the world. His previous managerial positions also include the President and COO of Holiday Inn Worldwide and the President of Days Inn of America, as well as the Vice Chairman of the Marcus Foundation, a philanthropic organisation founded by Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, Inc.

Michael is a great supporter of HSMAI in the US. He has also been the past international Chair of HSMAI. In the US the HSMAI Leadership Day is named after him in honour of his extraordinary leadership skills and his lifelong commitment to developing the industry. Together with the Las Vegas Sands Corporation Michael made a generous donation totaling at $1.5 million to HSMAI in the US.

Michael is a co-founder of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) which now has over 7,000 members. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Tufts University and a Master of Science from Boston University.

Mike Leven quotes

I measure success on what you have done to other people not what you have done for yourself .

I developed an early sense of the customer and satisfying that customer. I always objected to some of the resistance from the financial side of the industry, which prevented the satisfaction of the customer.

Lots of people can make financial turnarounds and grow businesses, which I’ve done. But when you have a chance to establish an idea and an organization that changes the course of history and changes the course of many lives, well that stands out as a very important accomplishment to me.
(When speaking of his accomplishments in  co-founding AAHOA)

Status Quo is a Prescription for Failure

Mike Leven’s principles for running a business include:

— The customer is not always right, but is always the customer

— Every employee is a human being who deserves dignity and care, and it is OK if they ask why, rather than simply accept an order because people often need an explanation for why they should do things. If you have to fire one, make sure you never take his or her dignity away

— Listen more than you talk

— Participation in industry activities is not only a giving experience to others, but is a learning experience for yourself

— Remember this is a human industry where you can touch thousands of people and build friendships. Competitors are not enemies

— No matter how much money you make, someone always makes more – and somebody else makes less

— You should enjoy every obligation because with obligations done, responsibility is earned and success follows. But despite what you hear, realize that ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ is a bad strategy. Your life is made up of small stuff so live with it

— The boss is not always right, but is always the boss

Photo: Mike Leven (stock photo).