Hotel Engine Culture Memo

At Hotel Engine, excellence is standard. Our culture is not defined by any one person or team but dictated by the collective force of the whole. The energy at HE is electric. You can feel it in our meetings, marked with passion and enthusiasm for what we are building and in the way we challenge and support one another. How we show up every day makes us remarkably different.

We are not for everyone, but we might be for you.  

Our operational approach is deeply rooted in our DNA, which directly shapes our “Ways of Working”


Our DNA shapes our culture and drives our success. The future of HE continues to get brighter, and the opportunities are limitless. To navigate this future and truly seize the opportunities that it presents, we lean on our DNA as our guiding principles that define who we are, what we stand for, and how we work. We use our DNA to assess Talent in our interview process and as an ongoing indicator of performance for all team members.

Together We Thrive: We are a team, and we win together. We support each other, push each other to be better, and build our culture together.

Customer Obsessed: Without our customers, we have nothing. We keep our customers at the core of everything that we do. We are committed to understanding their needs, delivering value at every turn, and exceeding their expectations.

Insist on High Standards: We do not just set high standards; we insist on them. These standards are not only for ourselves and our work, but for each other. We are creating a culture where excellence is standard.

Act with Ownership: We own our actions and their outcomes. We own our decisions, our performance, and our results. We take pride in our success, and we do not hide our mistakes. We learn from them, rapidly recover, and get back to doing great work.

Will to Win: This is the fire that fuels us. Our determination drives us to outperform and constantly strive to be better. With our relentless pursuit of success, losing is not an option.

Dive Deep: By diving deep, we understand the intricacies of our work and our teams, the complexities of our industries, and the needs of our customers. We seek the knowledge and context to overcome even the most difficult challenges.

Drivers, Not Passengers: We take the wheel. We don't sit back and wait for someone else to act. We are proactive and make things happen. We shape our own destiny.

Speed is Essential: Speed is our competitive advantage. We maintain our commitment to high-quality work while always accelerating the pace of our delivery. We move fast, making time a valuable resource that works for us, not against us.

Rigor and Discipline: Rigor and discipline are the bridge between goals and accomplishments. We embody these qualities every day and turn our vision and goals into tangible outcomes.

Continuous Feedback with Positive Intent: Feedback is a gift. Withholding important feedback hurts both our team members and our business. We communicate openly and directly, coming from a place of wanting the best outcomes. This openness supports our people in doing their best work, developing their careers, and maximizing the impact they make in our organization.

Focus & Deliver Results: We channel our energy towards what matters most. When goals inevitably shift, we quickly realign and keep our eye on the initiatives that move the needle. Our success is defined not by effort, but by the outcomes we deliver.

Ways of Working

Maintaining alignment across all facets of our organization is pivotal to our success. To facilitate this, we have created our "Ways of Working". This serves as a clear guide, outlining expectations across all departments, thereby ensuring consistency. This strategic approach ensures that every team member is on the same page, working towards our shared goals, and contributing to the overall success of our business.

1. Play by Our Own Rules

2. High Performance

3. Bold Communication

4. Embracing Change

5. Good People

Play by Our Own Rules

Our success is as unique as our culture. We can’t maintain either if we adopt the norms of other organizations. We hire people who have both incredible experiences and a very open mind. We don’t assume that the same strategy that works at another organization will be a clean plug-and-play at HE.

We challenge ourselves and each other to think about things differently. We constantly challenge the status quo and make sure that there is clear intention behind everything that we do.

We practice active leadership. We are deeply involved leaders who pay attention to detail, ask insightful questions, and flag blindspots. Our aim is not to control, but to guide and support so that our team members are empowered to make decisions and take ownership of their work.

This shows up in different ways throughout our business, some examples being:

  • We don’t do performance improvement plans. We also don’t do surprises; you know where you stand at HE. With the right foundation for feedback, PIPS add no value here.
  • Guidelines over policies whenever possible. We are all adults here and are trusted to demonstrate good judgment. Our guidelines provide direction without layering in complicated processes and approvals.  
  • Fluid planning. We move fast and embrace change. Our fluid approach to planning allows us to keep our top priorities relevant. Most of our planning happens quarterly, allowing us to pivot when necessary and focus on goals that matter.
  • We don’t post jobs outside of early-career roles. We take a different approach to Talent Acquisition and leverage sourcing and networking strategies to build extremely intentional talent pipelines.

High Performance - Our Best Asset

The RIGHT People are our best asset. Our vision is to create teams solely made up of individuals that inspire and motivate one another. Our best benefit is our commitment to offering the strongest colleagues possible. This commitment is reflected in our competitive total rewards, our internal advancement opportunities, and our rigorous Talent Acquisition Process.

When thinking about high performance, there are a few important sentiments to call out:

We believe that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.  

  • Inherent ability offers a head start, but without being fueled by hard work, it will be overtaken by the relentless and disciplined efforts of others. At HE, we don't just rely on our natural skills, we commit to a disciplined approach in our daily tasks and strategic initiatives. This ensures that every task, no matter how small, is performed with excellence and that every project, regardless of complexity, receives our utmost effort.

We value grit.

  • We care about execution and accomplishing great work. Running on the hamster wheel without incredible outcomes is not good for the individual or for HE. We value grit. Being resilient, solutions-oriented, and driven by passion is necessary for success.

We need great.

  • Parting ways is never easy, but neither is accomplishing amazing things. Our goals are ambitious, and we are clear on what we need to get where we are going. "Good" is not enough for what we aim to achieve. We make intentional decisions to part ways with "good" team members to make room for "great" team members and acknowledge that "great" changes over time. 

Bold Communication - A Requirement, Not an Option

Bold communication is not just encouraged, it is required. Strong, honest communication cuts through the noise and drives progress.

We build our culture of open communications through the following expectations:

Honest, Real-time Feedback

  • Questioning and challenging one another is a positive and makes us all better in the end. We speak up because withholding constructive feedback hurts both the individual and the business.

Lead with Context

  • Our talented and experienced team members are trusted to use their best judgment to make decisions and execute swiftly and autonomously. We are transparent and ensure that everyone has the necessary context to "be right most of the time."

Consistency in Communication

  • Written feedback (both positive and constructive) is easier to digest and allows for reflection. We leverage Lattice to give and receive updates, feedback, and to note-take during 1:1s.
  • We meet as a team every Monday at 8:00 am MT and quarterly for more in-depth town halls. This creates consistent channels for company-wide updates.
  • Front-line managers conduct team stand-ups at least once per week. Our collective passion is energizing, and we kick off weekly (and in many cases daily) with our teams to maintain alignment and engagement.

No Surprises

  • Surprises related to performance are not a thing at HE. Everyone should know where they stand. If someone is let go and they are surprised, that is an indicator of managerial ineffectiveness and will be addressed appropriately.

Embracing Change; the Catalyst for Innovation

Change moves us forward; it indicates the innovation necessary for our continued success.

We embrace change with the following principles in mind:

  • Data-Driven Change: We are regularly gaining access to new information, and we are quick to adjust based on what we learn. We change our minds a lot, and we are better for it.
  • Comfortable being Uncomfortable: We encourage trying new things outside our comfort zones. We take calculated risks and push ourselves to expand our impact. You are capable of more than you realize.
  • Challenging the Status Quo: We question traditional ways and are open to change. We don't do things simply because "we've always done it that way". 
  • Rapid Recovery: We expect our team members to be right a lot but with innovation and risk-taking, we know we won't always get it right the first time. When this happens, we own it, communicate about it, and adjust the sails quickly. 

Good People: The Heart of HE

We don’t have room for big egos. Respect is not optional, it’s the non-negotiable that defines our integrity and the unwavering standard that drives our collective ambition. To be clear, you can’t work at HE if you are a jerk. While our communication style is very direct, we assume positive intent and come from a place of wanting to get the best outcome for the business. Our bold communication is rooted in our desire to help one another.  

In Conclusion

At HE, we are who we are, and we lean into it. We cut out the traditional corporate fluff- our edges might seem a little sharp as a result of our hyper-focus on moving the needle, but we’ll take that trade-off. It’s not an easy place to work, but it’s an awesome place to work. We continuously push the boundaries of what we believe we are capable of and the personal and professional growth we experience as a team makes every second worth it.