TRUNK President Yoshitaka Nojiri talks about the quintessence of the “hotel,” which is full of various lines of business. This time we will discuss the consideration and practice of one of the most important aspects of TRUNK which it emphasizes over everything―creativity.
Why is creativity important?
TRUNK(HOTEL) mainly targets seasoned travelers and go-getters who want to visit interesting places around the globe and meet interesting people. To satisfy such sensible guests, improving our creativity is of utmost importance.
The creativity department called “Atelier.”
TRUNK carries out tasks in-house that are generally outsourced to design companies. For example, our design team has four or five members who are in charge of space zoning. They constantly come up with the images of new properties and exchange design ideas.There are also five directors who plan and develop service contents like food and beverage to find out what restaurants are suitable for us and what concepts are necessary for our future restaurants.
We have a staff member who is dedicated to room layout and plumbing, and two several directors who engage in planning and developing our company products like uniforms and amenities. We also have event and party producers, graphic designers, photographers and video creators in-house. In total, more than 20 of our staff members engage in creative tasks and belong to our creative team “Atelier.”
Atelier Members[Article from creative WEB magazine BAUS]
Creativity over efficiency.
I don’t think there’s any other hotel in Japan which has the functions listed above. Discussions with hoteliers around the world also confirm that very few hotels have such a comprehensive creative team as ours. After all, no other company would run just one hotel and have over 20 people in their creative team like our Atelier. However, in a fashion and apparel business, this Atelier-type function is crucial. I believe that running a hotel requires the same level of creativeness. And in order to make good products, the staff members should be dedicated to their creative tasks within the company.
Subcontractors might be able to make outstanding products at times, but it is still difficult to maintain and improve their quality. Keeping a creative team in-house is indeed costly, but that is something we are willing to deal with. It is, in a sense, our commitment to creativity—we will prioritize creativity even if it proves costly. We strongly believe that, if we make fabulous products, people around the world will be interested in us.
What is expected of all the staff members at TRUNK.
We do not pursue efficiency or cost reduction; instead, we believe in inefficiency, spend time and effort and pay attention to the detail. In addition, such creative processes of design or architecture should not be left to the Atelier members alone.
Even if Atelier creates a concept, makes perfect products and leaves the rest to the operational management team, it will not work if there are differences of perception between the two teams. A high level of creativity is also required for the members of the operational management team. This is why TRUNK does not have manuals. If they have a manual, they stop thinking and working on their own imagination.
They need to ask themselves what to do in everyday interaction with our guests. It is useless for the company to instruct them what to learn, because a hotel is a place where people of all walks of life get together. Some people come early in the morning to relax with a cup of coffee, others come with their family members to enjoy a meal on a day off; some people come for a lunchtime meeting, and other people come to just have fun after work. It would be impossible to cater to all of them by following a manual.
Creating a system where employees can improve creativity independently.
Therefore, it is necessary to design an environment where they can act on their own initiative. We should create a system where people can actively try to improve their creativity.
For example, staff members gather to establish our personnel system, like when to take days off and how they would like to work. They can also customize training sessions they would like to take. Naturally, many of our staff members are hotel lovers, so some of them choose to stay at other boutique hotels as part of training. Some study business communication skills. Others take a test to obtain a license for a sports instructor or take a state exam. Each of our staff members understands that they themselves are part of the valuable products of TRUNK(HOTEL).
What we constantly expect the staff members to do is to take steps to improve their creativity. Creativity may be the only thing we can truly call our identity.
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