Dare to be brave

- Smash a hotel bar

Last week I read the article “Rädsla att misslyckas får inte döda kreativitet” (Fear of failure kills the creativity) by Martin Ingemansson, Managing Director for the Nordics at Facebook. The article is about Swedish companies’ need to stay relevant and innovative. This article is spot on and it reminds me of when I was working at one of the largest hotel chains in the Nordics and they didn’t had the courage to think outside the box.

Have you ever dreamt about being an 80's rockstar and smash a hotel room? I have! So now, lets start from the beginning. I started to work as Social Media Manager at the HQ and got the information that one hotel in Gothenburg was going to be refurbished. The theme of the hotel is music and rock n’ roll. I said quickly “Why not let a rock band smash a hotel room and throw out the big fat TV out of the window?” (At this time the hotel chain was going to replace all the old TVs with 25,000 new modern flat LED TVs. So this could be a brilliant PR stunt.) No response. But one year later the General Manager of the hotel contacted me and wanted to start their Facebook page because they were almost finished, they just had the lounge and bar left. So I pitched my idea again and he said yes! He used to be an old rocker himself. He didn’t have any hotel rooms left but I could smash
the bar.

OK, now I have to talk to PR. She said “This is a good idea but I can’t take this because of work overload.” So I asked “Please, can I take it? Please?” She said yes but I needed to get an OK from the Marketing Director. And I did get a “Yes, but need to speak to…” and then the next person. The list was long but I went through it. But the most important part was that I had the Hotel Manager, General Manager, the District Manager and my manager with me, and I did.

We had one day when we could smash the bar. On a Sunday in September because on Monday the construction workers arrived. A few months earlier I was at SSWC (Sweden Social Web Camp) and met a lot of smart and inspiring people. I met Daniel Erkstam and talked about my idea, of smashing the hotel bar, but I’m running out of time because my list of people to get an OK from was just getting longer and longer. And I didn’t have the most important thing — a rock band. But then Daniel said “I’m working with the rock band HEAT and they have a new front singer Erik Grönwall (won the Swedish Idol 2009). They need some PR and maybe they want to?”

Now all the stars and planets were aligned. Every little piece was falling into place the last week. HEAT was in Gothenburg for recording their new record and I got an OK from everyone that I needed. I had a very good support and help with project leading of Daniel that looked up some photographers that could shoot the video. I couldn’t be there at the hotel during the smashing because I was moving to a new apartment. So in the last minute, between me moving out and a quick lunch, I said yes to Fish and Elephant Production when I saw the reference videos. And the shooting was tomorrow!!! So I crossed my fingers and let’s begin!

Here is the result:

The making of the video went great! Thank’s to HEAT, the photographer and the Hotel Manager and GM. So, what happened then? I showed the video for my manager and she liked it very much and she wanted to show the video for all the Swedish GMs at their conference. After approval from the President and CEO, it was time. The premiere was for 85 Hotel General Managers. And some of them were in shock, and some of them nodded and had a yeah-smile on their faces. Then it was the HQ’s turn, with the same reactions. This was outside of the hotel chain’s comfort zone. They have started a journey with a new look & feel because they want to remake themselves. And this video was the start of something new, I thought.

But now something happened. One person didn’t like it that much so the process for final approval got delayed. In a short time, after the premiere of the video, almost everyone who had said OK moved on to other companies, including the CEO. So I had no one to back me up and the result was that it was never spread. It’s sad that they didn’t have enough courage to think outside the box. To struggle internally instead of focusing on getting the video out in the world. Isn’t it?

This was few years ago and the organisation is totally changed since then. I know several awesome people who now works there so it’s a different hotel chain today.

Final words:
When I read Martin’s article I had to make a statement for myself and share this story. Because I don’t want to let fear kill my creativity. Do you recognize yourself in this story?

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