Building A Sense Of Community: American Airlines Opens Its First Hotel

Unnamed 32, The DiJulius GroupThere’s a common thread that connects each and every one of us, you just have to take the time to find it. Some people have an automatic connection, others end up connecting in funny ways. Think about how a concert can unite thousands of strangers. Completely different age groups, economic statuses, genders, political viewpoints, and day-to-day routines. Honking in traffic en route to the show, rushing through the entry, and pushing in line to get to our seats. But then…something magical starts to happen. In that brief window of time, we start building a sense of community, albeit a temporary one.

There’s a massive shift in the environment as an intro starts to pulse, a countdown starts to click, and everyone begins chanting together in anticipation. Suddenly, the person who snubbed you on the way in becomes your best friend for the next two hours. The artist emerges, and magically, we’re all united in a shared sense of enjoyment. Singing, dancing, not a care in the world. 

While that experience is phenomenal, what happens when the music stops? For a few fleeting moments, while we’re all on cloud nine as we shuffle out the doors, we are still friends, but the minute we hit the traffic…the frustrations emerge once again.

Why Big Team Energy Isn’t Always Felt in Your Company’s Culture

Organizations can often make this mistake with their internal culture: we rally together for a team-building event or educational conference, feel energized and excited, then get right back to business, never revisiting the bond we created. Time after time, we miss the opportunities to build a strong workplace community. That’s why it’s so important to immerse your team members in the culture your organization stands behind and to continually nurture those bonds.

Some companies have taken this sense of community to groundbreaking levels. For example, American Airlines just opened its very own hotel – Skyview 6. However, you or I cannot stay there, no matter how high our loyalty status is.

They opened this hotel strictly to house the employees they bring into town for training and meetings. From a financial perspective this was smart–let’s invest in ourselves. Just like purchasing your home versus paying rent to a landlord. However, even more, groundbreaking is the layer of American Airlines’ corporate culture that will set them apart from other airlines. It gives them the chance to immerse the team in their culture around the clock while creating the highest level of employee satisfaction and more than likely, employee retention.

They didn’t just build a generic hotel facade to be more efficient. Immense thought and personalization were put into the property to engage their team members during their stay and immerse them in the culture American Airlines has built over the years. Features include a museum of the company’s history, multi-use pathways across the campus to encourage movement after lots of time in the air, ample dining options, an outdoor courtyard, and rooms that were designed based on the crew’s feedback for their own industry’s needs. And there are plenty of supplemental communal spaces for increased social interactions and a greater sense of connection on a more personal level. 

Increasing Empathy AND Employee Performance

While building your own hotel is impressive, it is a stretch for most companies. So, how can you go the extra mile? What can you do to build and enforce the culture and experience delivered at your organization? One way to build better empathy for co-workers is to create a day in the life of an employee video. This video offers a great team-building exercise that helps us understand the importance and struggles of our fellow team members. It builds empathy and compassion for those we work with every day while strengthening our organizational values.

Who is in Charge of Fun at Your Organization?

Another easy but effective idea is to appoint a Chief Fun Officer (CFO). Every company needs one. It doesn’t have to be a salaried position, nor must it be someone from management. It can be a team of CFOs, one from each department or location. Many team members love being part of a committee that helps plan team and company events, and opportunities for employees to relax and enjoy themselves.

Make it a priority to have these team-building events at a normal cadence by appointing someone to this role. To encourage the most collaborative environment, be sure to plan different types of events to keep things fun for all personality types. Remote employees and hybrid workers can also benefit from regular events that build emotional connections despite the physical distance. You want to encourage people to bring the most authentic version of themselves to work every day, and sometimes we just need to break the ice a bit for them to feel comfortable doing so.

Create an Employee Experience Model

Are there standards in place at your organization to ensure your employees feel valued and like their mental health matters, are celebrated at certain milestones including with peer-to-peer recognition, and are provided with a consistent employee experience, just like your customers receive? The main focus of World-Class Internal Culture, these standards encompass various stages of your team member’s employment. This also all but guarantees that the fun culture you created at the team outings will withstand the test of time. The collective energy will be increasingly synergistic as you implement and execute a new system to ensure stellar employee experiences in a vibrant workplace community, leading to the ultimate goal: best-in-class customer experience.

*RelatedPrioritizing Employee Mental Well-Being

*New Customer Experience Executive Academy starting in September ’23

CX in the News

If you can’t train employees to deliver great service, is the solution not to have any?

Unnamed 33, The DiJulius GroupMcDonald’s restaurant chain has suffered for years being the lowest in  customer satisfaction in the fast food industry. So, the chain has decided to test a completely new concept: McDonald’s opened a fully-automated location with no human employees.

“Finally, my order will be quick and accurate,” one commenter on TikTok wrote. “Awesome, no more attitude at the counter,” said another. “Well, the people that work there act like they don’t wanna be there,” a third commenter shared. “This solves that problem!”



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Nicole Paul