Young people in the industry today are light years away in character from past generations. They start with more material possessions and freedom, of course, but they are also much more self-aware and more determined to manage their own development.
This does not mean they are unwilling to accept help and guidance, but they see their own development as their responsibility. They are outspoken, intolerant of double standards and quick to understand the difference between what is said and what is done. And they do not forgive easily.
Channelling this powerful enthusiasm for the good of the industry remains one of our greatest challenges and one which, sadly, is still neglected by many companies.
Certainly, training is paid little more than lip service in some quarters.
This struck me quite forcibly when I took over the management of seven disparate hotels. All had encountered their share of troubles, but the staff's loyalty still seemed strong and genuine.
You see, wherever there is a bad worker and poor service there is probably lousy management - and the workers are well aware of it.
Management, as the business pundits are constantly lecturing us, is about change. But I am not the type that fervently believes in the visionary leadership of one person beating a path to a world of change. It is much more complicated than that and probably more painful.
The staff at the hotels I had taken on were full of frustrations and anxieties about their own futures. I am trying to understand and translate these feelings into productive and upbeat action. Too much prevarication can only fuel the problems.
The only way to deal with this kind of sensitive situation is frankly and directly. Telling people whether they are doing well or badly must be part of that process.
People are an asset, our strength and our future. But unless you give them the opportunity to feel ownership of a company and its objectives and allow them to fail once, you will never generate a sense of going forward.
If we are able to give people enthusiasm and ignite their creativity, then the result is an endless stream of ideas and assistance, which can turn a moribund operation into an unstoppable force.
Instead of ramming training programmes down people's throats, why not ask them how they feel about it? Do they want to develop themselves? How do they want to develop themselves, and in which direction? When you have their answers you can develop a scheme tailored to them and their individual needs.
Creating a sense of team spirit and bonding is vital. Succeed and we all earn a bit of glory - there really is nothing more exhilarating than winning together. But the managers and I must also be prepared to take complete responsibility when the going gets rough. It is, after all, the management that has been co-ordinating the initiative and selecting the right people for the job.
This country suffers from unique problems. And one of the oddest is that providing good service is somehow considered deeply subservient. Yet we all recognise and appreciate good service.
Maybe the have-a-nice-day culture is not for you, but it sure beats someone with a scowl on their face. Americans have an in-built ability to deliver service because they have a desire to please and entertain.
I was in a restaurant in Los Angeles recently with11 friends. The girl who took our order for 12 starters and12 main courses did not write a word, but when the food arrived, she correctly placed each dish in front of the right person. As far as that girl was concerned, she was on stage and determined to play an Oscar-winning role.
At your service
The management of change to transform a company into a more robust service business won't happen overnight. People need to understand why change is necessary and participate in the process.
Throwing money at the problem doesn't solve it. Taking a whole series of actions that really relate to the staff does.
Training and development schemes tailored to individual needs, regular and honest staff communications, save-as-you-earn share option schemes and carefully considered incentives will all give people a sense of pride in what they do. It also takes into account simple acceptance of the fact that it is the customer who pays all our wages.