How HotelTonight Actually Measures Its Company Culture

November 28, 2016

Sam Shank, CEO and co-founder of HotelTonight, built his company's culture around three core values.

There’s a misnomer out there that your company’s culture somehow can’t be measured. Perhaps some parts can’t be, but largely, a company’s culture is absolutely measurable, and can be improved over time.

For evidence, look at HotelTonight. The travel-booking site, which has raised more than $80 million since it was founded in 2010, has a unique perspective on its company culture: they aim to treat their employees with the same expectations they treat their customers.

“(Our employees) are here for an experience, they’re here to learn,” HotelTonight CEO and co-founder Sam Shank said in an interview with LinkedIn. “We want to make sure their customer satisfaction is just as good as the customers who come in and book hotels.”

Shank said he focused on culture early, believing that “company culture is incredibly hard to reset.” So when the company had just 10 employees, Shank and his team spent time defining the company’s three core values: build, question and respect.

“We build great things by questioning conventional approaches and respecting the people we interact with, including each other,” Shank said.

From there, they’ve made it a priority to measure that culture, to ensure it stays strong as the company grows. They accomplish this in two ways:

Employee Attrition

The attrition rate indicates the general satisfaction of the company, and if it’s high, it’s something HotelTonight needs to address, Shank said. However, attrition is a reactive view, and the goal is to keep employees engaged so they don't leave.

A Monthly Employee Pulse Survey

Each month, HotelTonight employees take a five-question survey asking about their feelings toward the organization. This gives the company a real-time look at how people feel about their jobs, and its culture overall.

“One of the hard things about changing company culture is it isn’t an overnight fix,” Shank said. “Very rarely do we have something we can address right away… For the most part, it’s something like investing in manager training, which we are doing right now, which address some of the questions people have.”

Not only have these surveys been critical for measuring HotelTonight's culture, it also has given them the path to improving it, Shank said.

"One of the things we do a lot more now, and we could have done a lot more in the past, is to listen to our employees," he said. "Listening to them, finding out what could be better for them, and then what is actually feasible."

HotelTonight’s system might work for you, it might not. But, either way, it’s essential to find some way to measure your organization's culture and work to improve it, as a strong culture is key to attracting, retaining and engaging your employees.

One proven way to engage your employees is to build a culture of learning at your organization. Click here to download our guide on how to do exactly that.