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Excelling at Customer Centricity, the ECC Programme
– A programme guiding a customer centric organisation to excel

Being a more customer centric organisation makes a big difference to the reputation online, to repeat business and results. To excel, strategic decisions of culture and internal communications have a great impact.

The margins for error is becoming much smaller. Companies like Tripadvisor, Trivago and others are really good in telling what the service organisations actually delivers and what the customers want. This reduces the margins for mistakes even further.

The HSMAI Region Europe ECC Programme give you the opportunity to review your strengths and put in place well researched actions to plug and customer experience gaps. Where it makes a difference to your results.

It’s about having a considerable impact on:

  • Customer Loyalty
  • Customer Advocacy
  • Referrals – by customers and employees
  • Return on Reputation

A means of measurements through

  • Ratings
  • Business Results

The winners of tomorrow are those who invest in their company culture and bring the customer experience into the board room. Providing excellent service is more important today than ever.

For many years I have wondered what strategy is most important amongst the many. I now believe the Excelling at Customer Centricity is the single best,”

– Mike Leven, longtime industry leader and international “hotel icon” about the program

HSMAI Europe Educational Advisor Mia Touzin Leffler from Glion Institute of Higher Education and University of West London with a PhD in Service Management, has been responsible for working out the content.

The programme can be tailored to each company, destinations and several companies wanting to do a program together.

For more information about the HSMAI Excelling at Customer Centricity Programme please contact HSMAI Region Europe at

Excelling at Customer Centricity– the ECC Programme is an Executive Coach Certification to guide an organisation to manage and excel as customer centric.

To help organisations review their strengths and put in place well researched actions to plug customer experience gaps, HSMAI har developed a certification for executive coaches to guide organisations to excel.

The​ ​HSMAI​ ​Excelling at Customer Centricity Certification​ (the ECC Programme): ​
The new certification enables participants to coach teams in delivering promises that have a positive impact on the perception of the brand in social media. The seven areas covered are closely intertwined:

  1. Define: Develop and define your service culture
  2. Care: Manage your stakeholders
  3. Be proactive online: Let social media work for you by creating “instagramable guest
  4. Build cultural muscle: Use culture as a means of turning barriers into empowerment
  5. Engage stakeholders through thoughtful and strategic communication
  6. Recover from complaints and turn them into advocacy
  7. Measure: Make sure you are measuring what matters

Excelling in Customer Centricity’ Certification ​consists​ ​of​ ​4​ ​modules ​in 3 full ​days​ (including evenings).

The HSMAI will provide a licence for the programme on the following basis:

  • Executive Coaches are trained by HSMAI Master Trainers – over a 3 day programme.
  • Toolkits are to be ordered and provided directly by HSMAI to the companies that will be trained by the Executive coaches.
  • Coached are licenced for a period of 12 months and need to attend a one day update every year to keep their licence.


  • Executive Coach Training: €1950 for the two day programme (excl. travel and accommodation).
  • Toolkits: €500 each, €4500 for 10, €8000 for 20.
  • Update workshop: €650 – one day programme per year (excl. travel and accommodation).

“The ECC Programme” is about understanding what outstanding service really looks like in your business and helping every member of the team to commit to their part in making something great”

– Eric O’Halleran, Certified Executive Coach, ECC programme

Other options for several companies and chains

Option 1: Single Hotel On Site / other companies – bespoke Delivery
Our master trainer runs a two day workshop at the hotel/company and trains 4 to 6 senior managers over two days. The training is customised around the specific challenges of the property.

The trained managers have access to an online community and library

A series of 5 coaching calls are organised with the group to sustain and measure the impact of the programme over the following months.

Price: €2450 for the two day workshop including the toolkit and the access to the library material and 5 coaching calls. Excluding travel expenses for the trainer. The hotel hosts the trainer and provide the meeting room arrangements.

Option 2: Multiple Hotels / other companies / chains – Group Delivery

For a group of up to 10 hotels/units, the two day workshop is run in one location and 2 “change agents” are invited from each hotels/unit.

HSMAI provides two Master Trainers to run the event, the package includes 5 coaching calls for each hotels/units.

Price: €8900 for the 10 hotels/units including the two day workshop, 10 toolkits and the access to the library material and 5 coaching calls per hotels. The hotel /hosting company provide the meeting room arrangements and accommodation and F&B for the trainers.

For more information about the HSMAI Excelling at Customer Centricity Programme please contact HSMAI Region Europe at

Application Form Executive Coach Certification

  • Please enter a number from 0 to 50.
  • Max. file size: 256 MB.
    I have attached a professional bio and/or resume with this application. I will attend an interview with HSMAI Region Europe as part of the qualifying process
  • The HSMAI Trainer Certification costs a onetime investment of 1950 EURO. Upfront payment required after the application is approved by HSMAI Region Europe.
  • With this application, I am applying the HSMAI Executive Coach Certification and submitting the requested documentation, which includes a current resume. In submitting this application, I acknowledge that the information I have provided is accurate. I understand that acceptance into the program is based on this application, any support materials I have enclosed, and an interview with HSMAI Region Europe. I further agree to hold HSMAI Region Europe harmless from any and all liability in the event this application is rejected on the basis of the information furnished by me or third persons which would, in the judgment of HSMAI Region Europe, make me ineligible for certification. I agree to accept HSMAI Region Europe's decision as to my eligibility for this certification.

The ECC Programme

The ECC Programme is an initiative made to improve the quality of service and to assist companies and organisations with formulating an easily communicated Service Pledge – internally and externally, and will be among the most important ventures HSMAI has undertaken.

The Excelling in Customer Centricity Certification ​is built on ​4​ ​pillars:

Most companies have a vision. Many also have a set of values. We believe it should be equally important to have a vision that relates to its service delivery, service recovery and service reputation. This is one of the things the ECC programme will help create. To introduce and implement a service pledge, particular attention will be paid to how efforts in: Customer Service, Company Culture, Communication and Service Recovery, and how these are integrated, seamlessly and positively, to make a considerable difference to how the organisation’s customer service is perceived and the credibility of its Service Pledge.


Module 1: Customer experience and “custom voyage”

Introduction to The Service Pledge and the importance of the customer experience as strategic measure. The customer’s experience of customer service. How important stages on the “custom voyage” are identified (before, during and after). Do we deliver on our promises? What is a Service Pledge and how was it developed? Stakeholders – regarding a Service Pledge – who to involve and how? How do we ensure quality and change over time?

Module 2: Company culture

Obtain commitment, overcome barriers. As a help in implementing a successful Service Pledge we have five success criteria:

1. The customer experience: “Promise 99%, deliver 100!”. How to achieve this when personal service is what differentiates us?
2. Company culture. What is a winning culture and how do we develop and nurture it?

Module 3: Developing a Service Pledge

3. Communication. Effective ways to ensure delivery of service and commitment excellence. Brainstorming action plans and communication activities.
4. Service Recovery – processes for disgruntled customer management prior to social media reviews. How to convert unhappy customers to happy ambassadors.

Module 4: Measurements and feedback loops

5. Measurements and quality control. Do we meet and exceed the customer’s expectations? Acquire feedback, rehearse communication and deliver. Documentation and improvements. How do we know that feedback improves quality of service? Customer satisfactions data and gamification

In the Service Pledge Program we will use proven gamification techniques to embed two-way communication, promote active listening and boost immersive participation. We will use customer perception data as part of the program delivered by our partner Customer Alliance.

For additional guidance HSMAI has developed a workbook guiding the process and a ​Knowledge​ ​Bank, digitally​ ​available, ​to​ ​dip​ ​into​ ​for​ ​ideas, ​examples​ ​and methods.

Multiple session for destinations, chains and other who like to do the program together with several companies is possible. Or you can certify your own ECC Coach within your company.

For more information about the HSMAI Excelling at Customer Centricity Programme please contact HSMAI Region Europe at

CEO Jarle Moen, interviews the Hotel Icon Mike Leven; what is the secrets about his success. See here.

“When I looked at the ECC programme it became clear that it is so much more than about excelling at customer centric, it has been designed to transform organisations, engage teams, increase individual performance, boost customer loyalty and ultimately increase profitability and growth.”

– Gil Mulders, Head of Learning Europe at IHG InterContinental Hotels Group

The Mike Leven Mentoring Program

In addition to the certification programme we have developed a mentor programme in close cooperation with Michael Leven, where we proudly can offer our members an opportunity to learn from the absolute best in this field. We will establish an icon for Excellent Customer Service in his name.

The program has been developed in close cooperation with Mike Leven who will assist in selecting and coaching the mentors. In other words we here have a golden opportunity to learn from one of the absolute best in the field.

Mike Leven is one of the most prominent US hotel icons, but it is his warmth, wisdom, humility and commitment to leadership and customer service which is quite unique, and the way he works to improve and empower those around him makes him really stand out. Mike Leven has been working internationally throughout his entire career. He is a person who is up-to-date in most areas, including philosophy, psychology and politics, and has experienced a lot of challenges. He has always been motivated by achievements, by developing others.

He says that in order to be a mentor you first have to be yourself and know yourself. As a mentor you have to be a simplifier, and be able to develop the confidence of a mentee to share their values. “Everybody” wants a piece of Mike Leven, and he loves to share his competence. Now he is helping HSMAI as a coach for potential mentors. Read more about Mike Leven here.

For many it is good to have a mentor outside their company, in addition to internal coaches and mentors. We believe in a culture for continued learning. The program is aimed at all ages and levels in the Hospitality Industry.

We want to reach out to those who have showed their passion for developing others and willingness to share insights and experience with other industry professionals. We want mentors that share the same values and the same passion to implement the philosophy.

Mentoring is a two-way process. Not all executives are good as mentors. The mentors who are committed to constantly developing and learning themselves are the best mentors. They appreciate that the work with mentees provides learning and development for themselves too. In addition to what ever assistance you may receive internally HSMAI wants to be there for you – throughout your whole career.

The program is aimed at all age groups and levels in the industry. A pan-European mentor program working across different disciplines and companies within travel and hospitality can prove to be favorable for mentors and mentees, personally, professionally, but also for the respective companies and for the industry as a whole.

Regardless of whether you work on a national, European or global basis and have a lengthy experience in management, the demand for increased competence is on the rise. The industry is changing rapidly, the market is challenging, which is why it is more important now than ever to keep abreast of developments, and continuously improve our skills and learn from others.

In march 2019 HSMAI and Cendyn in Boca Raton hosted a live webinar with Mike Leven with more than 100 attendees. Please see video here:

Mike Leven talks about mentoring with Steven Dow:

Executive Coaches

HSMAI Region Europe has developed an own executive certification, Excelling at Customer Centricity, the ECC Programme to guide an organisation to manage and excel as customer centric.

The ECC Coach will be working with hospitality organisations to coordinate their efforts and maximize their team’s approach to customer service. Every hospitality organisation has a unique mission and style, so the programme is designed to take what is special and ensure that all team members are behind it in the most effective way.

Certified Coaches

  • Mia Touzin Leffler, UK, Sweden, Norway
  • Eric O’Halleran, UK
  • Larry Hochman, UK
  • Linda M. Ramberg, Norway
  • Kari-Anne Røisland, Norway
  • Andre Kaufmann, Germany
  • Jordi Wientjes, Holland
  • Hedvig Rognerud, Norway
  • Torsten Sabel, Germany

Eric O’Halleran, HSMAI Region Europe Executive coach

Eric is an experienced and successful trainer bringing in many years of experience in dealing with customers and motivating people to help organizations grow and shift their culture. He worked in British Airways for many years, with training delivery, design & analysis for all areas of the organization. He has worked as a freelance trainer for several years focusing on topics like; Team Working, Managing Challenging Situations, Coaching, Persuasion, Giving Feedback, Handling Objections, Growth Mindset, Growing Motivation, Business Communications and more.

Now Eric O’Halleran is certified as one of HSMAI Region Europe Executive coaches.

The Service Pledge is about understanding what outstanding service really looks like in your business and helping every member of the team to commit to their part in making something great’.

Eric O’Halleran, HSMAI Region Europe Executive Coach, about the HSMAIs Service Pledge program.


Q: What experience do you bring as an Executive Coach?

A: My passion for the customer experience has been the basis of everything I’ve done in my career. I have spent years developing and delivering service and sales initiatives across many sectors and at all levels which helps me understand both the customer and service provider point of view. My years in service, training and sales are all part of the same thing, which have allowed me to influence many global organisations in the provision of a winning customer focus.

Q: Why do I think you should attend this program?

A: We all have an idea of what great service is. The problem in most organizations is that individuals’ ideas often don’t match one another or the brand promise. That inconsistency may leave consumers confused and employees demotivated. The Service Pledge will involve everyone in your organization, helping them to focus on their role in working together to build a winning future.

Q: Why would your customers say you would be good for the organization to manage this program internally across departments?

A: The qualities my customers would recognise and recommend include;

  • influencing skills
  • energy & passion
  • ability to collaborate successfully
  • ability to listen
  • ability to be positive

These skills allow me to have a lasting impact.

HSMAI Region Europe congratulates! Meet Eric O’Halleran in London September 14 – 16 for the Winning for Customer Service Pledge “miniprogram”. Click here for more information.

Mia Touzin Leffler

Education Adviser HSMAI Region Europe

Mia Touzin Leffler is responsible for HSMAI Region Europe’s Winning for Customers – The HSMAI ECC Programme.

See HSMAI’s Mia Touzin Leffler, who researched and worked on the development of the program, explain why you should have a ECC Programme

Mia´s combination of senior roles held in the service and hotel industry and in hotel and tourism higher education makes her interpretation of customer experience research in todays business environment very pertinent. Her findings indicate that ‘tomorrow’s winners are companies that invest in their company culture and bring the customer experience onto the boardroom agenda’.

Academic background and customer experience 
As Senior Fellow, the Higher Education Academy in England, the organisation for quality assurance within British universities, Mia is External Examiner at Ulster University in Belfast. Her academic background includes being head of the hospitality and event management education at the large University of West London, academic lead of the BSc program at the private Glion Hotel School in Switzerland and lecturer at Cornell University when they had a teaching centre at IMHI Essec in Paris. Her academic education includes a MSc with Merit in Tourism & Hospitality Management and Education from Surrey University together with earlier studies in human resources management in the UK and hotel management at Glion.

Mia Touzin Leffler´s earlier career was in the industry, as head of management development and training with Sheraton EAME & South Asia and prior to that as Human Resources Manager, Holiday Inns Europe. This was followed by a period as independent with quite large, long-term projects around work method changes, service concepts and sales training programs for Disney Paris, the Europcar – Perot Systems partnership and Air Miles before landing in academia with three children tagging along. Mia grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden, is married to a Frenchman and has spent her adult life based in England, France, Switzerland, Germany and in Australia.

Mia will be present in London, both in the capacity as lecturer and Executive Coach. See here.

For partakers interested in proceeding with the program within own organisation HSMAI Region Europe has prepared four company-internal workshops based on the four ECC Programme modules, including guidance and follow-up between gatherings, workbook, access to online store of knowledge with international examples and company case, facilitated by an HSMAI Executive Coach. Coach certification within own organisation is yet an option.

For more information and application please contact Linda M. Ramberg,

Mike Leven

Mike Leven is one of the most prominent US hotel icons, but it is his warmth, wisdom, humility and commitment to leadership and customer service which is quite unique, and the way he works to improve and empower those around him makes him really stand out. Mike Leven has been working internationally throughout his entire career. He is a person who is up-to-date in most areas, including philosophy, psychology and politics, and has experienced a lot of challenges.

Mike Leven, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Georgia Aquarium, Inc Michael A. Leven, also known as Mike, has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Georgia Aquarium, Inc. since January 2015 in his sort-of-retirement years. Before that he was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

He is a longtime industry leader and a “hotel icon”. He has an impressive career in hospitality, with over 50 years of experience in top positions in hotels. His previous managerial positions also include the President and COO of Holiday Inn Worldwide and the President of Days Inn of America, as well as the Vice Chairman of the Marcus Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by Bernie Marcus, co-founder of The Home Depot, Inc.
Michael is a great supporter of HSMAI. In the US the HSMAI Leadership Day is named after him, in honor of his extraordinary leadership skills and his lifelong commitment to developing the industry.

HSMAI Region Europe has named its mentor program after him – The Mike Leven Mentoring Program, as well as its new program, Excelling at Customer Centricity – a program guiding a customer centric organisation to excel – based on his philosophy.

Mike Leven quotes

“I measure success on what you have done to other people not what you have done for yourself.”

“I developed an early sense of the customer and satisfying that customer. I always objected to some of the resistance from the financial side of the industry, which prevented the satisfaction of the customer.”

“Lots of people can make financial turnarounds and grow businesses, which I’ve done. But when you have a chance to establish an idea and an organization that changes the course of history and changes the course of many lives, well that stands out as a very important accomplishment to me. (When speaking of his accomplishments in co-founding AAHOA)”

“Status Quo is a Prescription for Failure”

Mike Leven’s principles for running a business include:

  • “The customer is not always right, but is always the customer
    Every employee is a human being who deserves dignity and care, and it is OK if they ask why, rather than simply accept an order because people often need an explanation for why they should do things. If you have to fire one, make sure you never take his or her dignity away
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Participation in industry activities is not only a giving experience to others, but is a learning experience for yourself
  • Remember this is a human industry where you can touch thousands of people and build friendships. Competitors are not enemies
  • No matter how much money you make, someone always makes more – and somebody else makes less
  • You should enjoy every obligation because with obligations done, responsibility is earned and success follows. But despite what you hear, realize that ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ is a bad strategy. Your life is made up of small stuff so live with it
    The boss is not always right, but is always the boss”


  • Today everybody knows, what everybody is charging. So the only thing you can do, is service the customer better than somebody else, or differentiate your product better, than somebody else.

    Mike Leven
  • The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well.

    John D. Rockefeller
  • Within the ECC programme we explore key stages of our customers journey, identifying areas to focus on and how.

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