Kris Kaminsky spent a decade honing his management skills at the upper realms of luxury hospitality before taking the reins as General Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Macao, Cotai Strip. Yet he is quick to emphasise that, personal leadership prowess aside, his role is relatively minor in delivering the exceptional service that welcomes Four Seasons guests to the “Las Vegas of Asia.” Born and raised in the American heartland, Kaminsky had eyes on marketing but came to hotels through work at independent restaurants. He moved to Colorado not long after earning a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and, when one thing led to another, got an opportunity to help open a French restaurant and a bar at a splashy ski resort high in the Rocky Mountains in Beaver Creek. Kaminsky went on to work his way up the management ladder in food and beverage with an international luxury hotel group, including opening a new property in Shanghai before becoming an executive assistant manager in Tokyo. When fortunate timing offered return to Colorado as Hotel Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Denver, Kaminsky took it. The opportunity included overseeing some sizable projects. But Kaminsky is most proud of the way the team developed over his two years in Denver, time that included the Hotel achieving an AAA Five Diamond Rating in 2015.
How did you get into the industry?
I started my career when I was young working in restaurants. I started in the dish room and then worked my way through different positions in the kitchen, starting in the bakery and eventually moving through other areas of the kitchen. It was just a job when I started but until this day I haven’t wanted to do anything else…
Any emerging industry trends?
Certainly technology is playing a huge role in our industry at the moment and something that we have to keep our eyes on… There is always something newer, faster, better… That being said, I think the real trend that will never go away is the customer’s need and desire for personalized experiences and I’m proud to work with a team that has this in the front of their mind each and every day.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
Again, I think the opportunity is really to continue to engage the guests on their terms… With all the new technology surrounding us, it looks and feels different than it did just a few years ago however the need to truly engage and know our guests remains as strong as ever. I think competition breeds better experiences for our guests and I love to see our hotels and our competitors pushing the limits… In the end, the guest wins!
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
I take my inspiration from my team… The reason that I fell in love with hospitality is truly the people that I have been surrounded with. Seeing my ladies and gentlemen grow and watching them drive our business is what keeps me coming back. They are the ones that are the face of our hotels… They are delivering the experiences for our guests…. They are the experts… They are the best of the best… I could not be more proud of what our teams do every day and I think that is what drives our business today and will also drive it in the future…
What's next for the Business in the near future?
Here in Macau, our landscape is changing every day. There are new hotels coming into the market that continue to push us all to be better. We are in the midst of a renovation in our guest rooms that will give us a very relevant, residential style product for our guests to enjoy. We are also pushing our food & beverage products at the moment in terms of offering innovative, creative and inspired experiences for our guests.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Our people are our key to success. Empowering our team of stars is the initiative that I take the most seriously. If we are able to get the best out of our people, the business will come. If we are able to deliver the highest levels of service and product, the business will come. If we are able to engage on a deeper level with our guests and create true guests for life, the business will keep coming back.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
The economic downturn in 2008 was a very tough time in our segment of the business. Travel budgets and dollars fell off the charts and we had to react. While the decisions we made were the toughest I have made, it was also probably the time that I grew the most as a leader and as a business manager. It is easy to be a good leader when times are good… It is NECESSARY to be a GREAT leader when times are tough…
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
For me the ideal experience for a guest is a completely personal thing… I think our goal here is that the guest should not even have to think… We want to know them so well that they can just turn off their brains and let us take care of it… In a restaurant, I like to use the example of the “off menu” experience…. Don’t worry about even looking at the menu because we are going to prepare exactly the experience that you desire… NOT EASY TO ACCOMPLISH but that’s the reason that we do what we do… The challenge of getting THEM right as well as getting IT right is what luxury hospitality is all about!
How do you motivate others?
I am a big believer in the golden rule and I think that is a key to motivating people… Treat them as you would like to be treated… Have their interests at the front of mind… As a hotel, we share a lot of successes – as a team – that is motivating. I think that with Four Seasons, we hire people that have internal motivation as part of their DNA. Our people are the top 1% of those in this field… If we were playing soccer, my team is Messi! I empower them to be their best every day and that is true motivation…
Career advice to those in your industry?
I think this one is very simple…. LOVE what you do. The day that you don’t – quit doing it…