Around the Water Cooler With a Holiday Inn Executive

Whether your employees are scrubbing toilets or cooking 5-star meals, make them feel valued.

Holiday Inn President Kirk Kinsell
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Some hotel managers might put everyone on high alert when you or the CEO is expected for a visit. If executives want to see how their businesses are really running, is it a good idea for them to drop in unannounced?

It's a great idea to do that. We sometimes refer to it as mystery shop, which is not necessarily incognito, because you don't want to be unauthentic. I use the combination of announced and unannounced visits across my stays. If I'm going to be in a market, and I'm going to be there for a day, it's really hard to be unannounced because sometimes you have to have things lined up. But when you have the opportunity to do so, it's great to go in as you say. Plus, the carpet isn't wet under your feet. And the paint doesn't smell like it was just put on.

Having said that, I'm a guy who when I travel, I'm a creature of habit like we all are. I love to start my morning with granola and blueberries. I do that every day – it doesn't matter where I am. So when the hotel often knows when I'm coming, they say, "What does Mr. Kinsell want in his room?" We give them the old granola and blueberries, put water in his room, put whole fresh fruit, because anything else you put in my room, I'll eat it because it's just there. I mean, I have no discipline.

[Read: Around the Water Cooler With Whole Foods' CEO.]

IHG launched EVEN Hotels last year, which include state-of-the-art gyms, yoga rooms and organic dining options. Is it worth the investment for a business owner to offer healthy options for consumers, especially when the business – like hotels – isn't directly related to health?

The answer is yes. Everybody from every walk of life has some interest in some level of their well-being. For many people, it is about healthy options in terms of what they eat. For others, it could just be a good night's rest. With EVEN Hotels, we've brought together holistic solutions for a mainstream traveler. So it's not an expensive spa destination five-star hotel, which not a lot of people can afford, but you can get healthy options. If you have some hypoallergenic needs, they're there for you. You can get great advice in terms of your fitness regime. And you can get a great night's rest.

What is the best career advice you've ever received?

Don't take yourself seriously because no one else will. That points back to my leadership style. I oftentimes tell people my favorite subject is me, and their first reaction is, "That's very egotistic," and "Of course, you're a male, so you must be." And then I explain it to them and say, "No, the reason why it's my favorite subject is because I invest in myself and understand who I am because I strongly believe I can't lead. I can't work on others unless I know myself." And I show to others that I'm vulnerable, and I take feedback and I do something with it. I'm constantly on a journey to be good, but I can always get better. And that's what I ask others to do.