Building Capabilities at the Westward Hilton Case Study


Strategic management entails the drafting and applying of the mainobjectives an organization undertakes. It avails general guidance tothe enterprise and comprises of specification on the organization’sgoals, coming up with guidelines intended at attaining the goals, andallotment of resources to execute organizational plans (Harrington &ampOttenbacher, 2011). The most triumphant hospitality managers arethose capable of viewing their organizations from a strategicoutlook. They utilize the skill to distinguish themselves fromcompetitors and form value for their clients and organization ingeneral. Strategic management is particularly important in thehospitality industry. There have been considerable alterations in theindustry due to changes in global trends. The trends are linked totravel, business trend, social and different technologicaldevelopments. The hospitality industry is naturally labor demanding,spatially fragmented, functioning in a multifaceted and vibrantsurrounding. Hence, managers ought to ensure that they have a clearvision, mission and culture for the organization, which ensureseffective implementation of the strategic plan.

Westward Hilton is an organization operating under the hospitalityindustry. The case study, Building Capabilities at the WestwardHilton, is a description of the endeavors of Hiller Hotels inchanging the operating performance of Westward. Hiller boughtWestward from insolvency when the preceding owner was compelled tosell the enterprise (Enz, 2010). Peter Green was the general managerassigned the responsibility of improving the organization. Greenstarted out his plan through the development of a clear strategy, aswell as productively developing human resource actions to execute hisvision. All through the years that Hiller Hotel has owned and been incharge of Westward, it has ranked highly with exceptional workerloyalty and dedication. The hotel has been changed from a poorperformer in the hospitality industry to a top performer within thePhoenix market. Green advanced and adopted his vision at WestwardHilton, and subsequently spread to the entire organization hence,altering the hotel into an interesting, enjoyable, and familial worksurrounding. This paper is an analysis of the vision, mission andculture of Westward. It also identifies and discusses the strategy ofthe organization.

Vision, Mission and Culture of the Organization

An organization’s vision mirrors its ideal image. It generates acentral point for strategic planning. The statement communicates theobjective and principles. For personnel, it directs on how to behavewhile encouraging them to work hard (Harrison, 2010). A vision sharedwith clients’ molds their comprehension on the reasons for workingwith an organization. The mission statement emphasizes on theorganization’s purpose. It demonstrates the method to use inserving stakeholders. These include clients, workers and investors(Harrison, 2010). Organizational culture derives from associationsamong workers in the place of employment. Managers hugely influencethe culture through their leadership, which shapes how employees act(Euchner, 2013).

Green’s vision for Westward was founded on the belief thatworkers’ loyalty, as well as improved customer service wouldeventually improve the organization’s competitiveness. He felt thatit was relevant for the organization to have its unique identity andbecome a hotel, which could draw and retain customers. In order todraw more customers, it was necessary to make changes, both internaland external. External changes included making major renovations toWestward’s appearance. Under Hiller’s ownership, Westwardincreased its meeting space. The gift shop was rented out on amonthly basis. A freestanding 8,000 square foot restaurant wasincorporated in the hotel and changes to the interior lobby finishand guest room. All guest rooms included large beds, lounge, fullbath, lamps among other amenities (Enz, 2010). Such changes without adoubt changed the outlook of the organization, ensuring that it metthe standards of other industry competitors.

Internal changes include altering the management approach to a moreinclusive strategy. When Green initially arrived at Westward,managers utilized a command and control leadership style. This meansthat the workers were merely subjected to obeying management rules.As a result, they were demoralized and did not enjoy their work. Itis necessary that an organization treats its employees as equalsregardless of ranks. This is because employees greatly influencecustomers in the hospitality industry (Nykiel, 1999). When employeesare demoralized, they are less concerned about customer needs. Sincecustomers need to be treated as per the services, they pay for, whenemployees fail to meet the demands, customers opt to hire theservices of competitors. Green believed that an effectiveorganization is one that could depend on employees’ loyalty. Byrealizing the relevance of employees and ensuring that, they feelappreciated, and then they in turn handle customers perfectly. In theend, people’s lives advance through the business.

Westward’s mission is improving people’s lives via business (Enz,2010). The mission relates to the vision. Green was keen to note thatin order to achieve their vision, it was necessary to improve thelives of stakeholders. Workers’ lives could be improved viahandling them with self-respect, rewarding and realizing theirimportance in the success of the organization. This is in addition toensuring a safe, interesting and flexible work surrounding for theworkers. Customers’ lives are improved through provision of a safesurrounding, perfect service, kindliness, and treatment, which makesvisiting Westward similar to visiting an ally. Last, the hotelowners’ lives are upgraded through guaranteeing that theorganization becomes a leading investor. Generally, the organizationhad the mission of ensuring that they positively influence the livesof local societies. This was achievable by working towards becomingrole models for other organizations in the hospitality industry.

Through the vision and mission, Green implemented working principles,taught to all individuals in the organization. The assumption wasthat provided those in charge of the organization followed the setguidelines, then employees would follow. The working principles,corporate vision and mission sums into a guide for leaders andmanagers:

  1. Dignity – valuing everyone evenly

  2. Focus – determines priorities and centers on executing the most relevant tasks first

  3. Balance – endeavors to ensure stability amid workers, clients and owners

  4. Values – the organization emphasizes that values such as truthfulness, reliance, regard and partiality influence decisions

  5. Achievement – all stakeholders deliver excellently to ensure success

Initially, Westward Hilton implemented a command-control workculture (Enz, 2010). Managers were in charge of employees, andworkers were expected to follow instructions. Employees were subjectswith minimal regard for their contributions in the hotel. Greenchanged the working culture to one based on working together as afamily by demonstrating dedication to each other and great customerservice levels. It entails managers valuing what their employees deemas important, which is family. When individuals are allowed to workas a family, then they are capable of demonstrating their truecharacters (Kusluvan, 2003). In most work environments, people haveto pretend to please their employers. Hence, a majority of theseemployees end up disliking their jobs. However, when given thefreedom and acceptance within the organization, it becomes easier foremployees to dedicate their efforts towards the success of thecompany (Kusluvan, 2003).

In a family working surrounding, it was possible for the organizationto enhance their levels of trust, as well as tolerance. The culturerelates to a healthy culture. A healthy culture is one where workersare safe, creative and work as a team (Olsen, Tse &amp West, 2007).The family culture created at Westward ensures that employees feelsafe while at work. They are able to present their ideas tomanagement without fear of reproach. It also ensures that employeesdepend on each other, hence work as a team. The organization’sstrategy permitted them to contemplate, and aspire towards improvingtheir operations. It entailed altering the way in which people workedand instill a future-backward perception. The culture matches thestrategy as it compels all employees to work together. It alsoinvolves changing the command leadership to a more accommodativeleadership style.

Strategy Identification and Discussion

Corporate level strategy deals with the premeditated resolutions anorganization makes, which influences the whole organization.Management of human resources, financial performance, and resourceallotment are some of the issues incorporated in corporate levelstrategy. It entails the decisions, which senior managementundertakes and endeavors towards competitive advantage in variousindustries (Furrer, 2010).

The organization employs a future-backward corporate level strategy(Enz, 2010). The strategy derives from the contemplation of what theycan achieve. A future-backward approach enables the organization toaspire. Contrary to current strategic planning where managers thinkforward in a procedure of improvements within a set period. Greensuggested a future oriented strategy, which involves the creation ofan almost improbable prospect position and validates what, requiresto be done in attaining the target. The strategy entailed alteringtheir operation via setting goals, which seemed improbable. Bypondering on the prospect and venturing into execution, it becameapparent that is was impossible for the organization to develop byfocusing on whatever strategies that was already in place.Future-backward approach compelled personnel to reconsider how theywork.

The strategy is beneficial to the organization. It compels thestakeholders to focus on the future of their operations. This meansthat they are not restricted to achieving short-term goals, ratherestablishing a strategy that can last for years. By thinkingbackward, the organization is able to realize all the mistakes theymade and evaluate what could have been done differently. Hence,permanent solutions to persistent challenges are established (Furrer,2010). For instance, in the former years, the organization did notrelate well with its employees, which in turn reduces employeesmorale. Instead of management focusing on improving employee moralecurrently, thinking backward ensures that they realize the problemarises from the management itself. Thus, the solution begins bychanging management’s view of its employees. In turn, whenemployees begin to feel valued their morale also improves. This is alasting solution as it instills in management the need to value itsemployees even as the organization ventures to the future.

The hospitality industry is constantly evolving. An organizationwithin the industry should be able to plan for any changes that mayoccur (Hill &amp Jones, 2009). A future-backward strategy isimportant because it ensures that management is aware of prospectchanges within the industry. Hence, they plan on how to deal with thechanges. By focusing on the future, it is also possible to improveorganizational operations. This is because the hotel sets targetsthat it intends to achieve. It also ensures that employees areconstantly aware of what management expects them to achieve. Theorganization does not just focus on growth, rather growth and successthat can last for years. It improves the trust formed between workersand leaders. This is because workers are also engaged in thedecisions made by management concerning the organization.

Generic business level strategy directs the organization’sendeavors in every line of operation (Hill &amp Jones, 2009).Strategies within the level define whom the organization intends toserve, what products will be utilized in providing the services andmanners through which customers will be served. During Green’sinitial visit to the hotel, he notes that the managers did not botherto greet him. The case further notes that he was housed in a Towerslevel suite, which had many things. This resulted in him concludingthat management was inconsiderate concerning the guest’s needs. Theorganization presumed that provided customers had amenities, theycould enjoy their stay in the hotel. Additionally, westward was notunique as it copied the beliefs of another organization, Ritz CarltonHotels (Enz, 2010). This prompted Green to adopt a differentiationgeneric strategy.

The differentiation strategy mandates the advancement of services,which provides exceptional traits esteemed by customers, and whichcustomers deem better compared to those of competitors (Hayes &ampNinemeier, 2009). The case outlines the changes that Green made tothe organization. He started by renovating the hotel so that it wouldbe more attractive and draws more customers. Considering thatmanagement had never considered the relevance of renovations to thehotel, such changes would outwardly change the customer’sperception. Giving a new face to the hotel draws more customers whodesire quality service. Amenities provided in guesthouses were alsochanged to focus on those that customers deemed more appropriate.Based on Green’s first experience in the hotel, it was easy for himto understand why customers may have opted to seek services fromother hotels. Hence, he incorporated a generic strategy, whichincluded proper service and communication with customers. Managementwould begin communicating with the guests and demonstrate concern fortheir needs. The objective is to ensure that customers feel welcomeduring their stay in the hotel.


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