Leadership tips from Four Seasons CEO Allen Smith

“When people get stuck on a problem, they’ve become encumbered by the assumptions they’ve made about the solution”

In our feature article published today about Four Seasons’ ambitious global expansion plans, CEO Allen Smith sizes up the competition from sharing-economy upstarts like Airbnb:

Amid all these changes, Four Seasons risks being perceived as luxury travel’s fusty dowager, its aging lady in pearls. Smith, demonstrating remarkable ice in his veins, perceives just the opposite. “I think, with the passage of time, those types of providers will become more and more adept at providing additional services within their higher-end offerings,” he says coolly. “And when they do, they will compete more clearly with us.” In other words: Everybody’s still trying to ape Four Seasons, and the anybody-can-do-it ethos of the sharing economy will reach its limits soon enough. “What they will have a very hard time replicating is the culture, the quality of the people and the commitment to service at the level we do it. I feel very confident of our competitive position in the marketplace.”