005 | What Makes a Leader with John Hogan

John J. Hogan, CHA CMHS CHE CHO is a career business professional and educator who has held senior leadership with responsibility in several organizations involving operational, academic and entrepreneurial enterprise. He has demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor and is frequently invited to speak at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events. He also acts as an expert witness in both research and testimony in hospitality industry related cases.


John has been a part of the hospitality industry his entire adult life. He started out as a teenager at a seasonal summer resort in Vermont and shares that his emotion towards the spirit of hospitality was very profound from the beginning. John studied hospitality at University of Massachusetts and over the last 40 years has worked with companies of all sizes ranging from smaller family owned large to large independents, to niched, to corporate and franchises. He feels it is an exciting, never boring, always changing industry.

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John decided to take on his first leadership role because it felt right to him. In his experience, he learned that one can’t be afraid to make mistakes – because you’re going to. It’s about making mistakes but not the same mistakes. It’s about knowing a good amount about everything but not needing to know everything while learning how to delegate because you CAN’T do it all alone. It is important to TRUST others and give them the tools they need for the overall success of the company.

So, what makes an effective leader? According to John, “Management is doing things right whereas leadership is doing the right things.” Leaders know how to take you through to the next level.

Are leaders born or made?

Some of us have more of an inclination to lead or manage. While others like to be part of a team. Leaders are people who evolve and are aware of the team effort. They’ve got the long term success because they constantly choose to evolve. So, they are not necessarily born.

What are the common pitfalls hoteliers face today and how can they be avoided?

Many hotels are franchised in the U.S. and Canada today, which is a successful business model. The big problem however, is that hoteliers buy a brand – either red, blue, yellow, and they over-rely on the brands to take care of all problems. Brands will take care of a lot- but their role is not to be successful for you. That’s up to you. Representing a brand has the potential to diminish the spirit of entrepreneurship.

In working with local businesses and CVB’s. How does one drive reservations there?

Close to 60% of hotels are less than 60-75 rooms. Most hotels are small businesses. But regardless of whether they are independent or franchised, it’s important to collaborate with other small businesses near you. For example, if your hotel specializes in weddings, you may want to collaborate with florists, photographers, or wedding chapels. Think about who your customers are. Who can you partner with in your area to create that win-win? Then, go ahead and create packages. Think about what airlines do: they’ll package a flight, car rental and hotel for you. It’s all about identifying who is coming to your hotel, identifying their needs and meeting their needs.

Improving ADR:

When asked for tips on improving your ADR, John cited industry veteran Mike Leven’s strategy of identifying who is going to be using your hotel and when; determining your busiest day of the week, and finding ways to fill in on low demand days so you can maximize your rate. It’s about taking into account the full year and composing a forecast (which may or may not be fully accurate!) to anticipate trends. Know the WHO, WHY AND HOW.  Don’t get involved in silly rate wars because nobody wins, but there is nothing wrong with discounting, as long as it’s intelligent discounting.

How can Hoteliers increase their spend for guests?

Difficult for a “rooms only” hotel because they only have the rooms, some vending machines, parking and the rooms themselves. The best thing a “rooms only” hotelier can do is come up with a referral free or co-op plan with nearby restaurants. Full service hotels have potential for package deals. Be sure to use revenue management strategies (i.e- minimum stays, forecasting).


What was a defining moment in your career?

John shares that when he graduated college and started managing a 1,500 room hotel in Boston. Initially, he thought he had confidence but realized had lots to learn. He accepted the role of the safety chairman of the hotel- not knowing what this meant exactly. His job was to determine the safety measures. Although a seemingly simple concept, it was actually complicated because of the immensity of the hotel (1,400 employees) and lots of heavy equipment. At the monthly meetings, John realized most of the employees were afraid of the General Manager and decided to politely ask him not to come to future meetings. The GM proclaimed he would most certainly BE present for all meetings. Then a funny thing happened: he was paged during meeting and had to leave. He never attended again. Moreover, he recognized that John had enough courage to stand up and lead.

What are some personal habits contributing to your success?

John says this changes all the time. He recognizes that he will never know everything and has a strong desire to keep learning. John firmly believes in continued education. He reads a couple books per week. Half are novels and half are about learning and life skills. He and his partner Kathleen have gotten into personal growth over the last 8 years. Specifically about spirituality and that force grander than us.


Hospitality Educators was created by himself and his partner Kathleen 5 years ago as a membership site.  It is a resource site. Life coaching as well as professional self development and professional consulting is offered too.

Parting advice:

Keep your enthusiasm. Keep your focus. Enjoy what it is you do and regularly figure out how you can get 10% better this month. Within the year you will 100% be there!

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. If you have some feedback you’d like to share, leave a note in the comment section below!

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Until the next …