09:41 am
August 19, 2018

Lessons on Innovation

Lessons on Innovation
Kevin Gale

The Breakers in Palm Beach is about as historic as you can get in South Florida, with roots that go back to Henry Flagler bringing the Florida East Coast Railway to the region in the late 1800s.

Going up its long driveway, past the Florentine Fountain, and seeing the hotel with its twin towers seems like a step back to 1926, when the hotel was built after two previous incarnations burned down.

But peel back the layers and you find all sorts of efforts to keep it current. Take, the fountain, for example. It was painstakingly rebuilt in 2015 because the original version had corroded and had been patched over the decades. The new version is an exact replica, but an improvement. The Palm Beach News reports that the conservator found the mouths of the alligators and herons adorning the fountain originally spouted water, but their mouths were closed at some point when the concrete was repaired. Now, they spout as they originally were intended. The fountain’s original color, painted over many times, was restored.

As a fan of architecture, I think credit should be given to Breakers CEO Paul Leone and the hotel’s owners, heirs of Henry Flagler, for enlarging and improving it over the decades without destroying the feel or concept. That approach encompasses the interior design, which still has its classic features but modern flourishes of Italian design. The hotel feels historic, but not stuffy.

My biggest takeaway on innovation, though, is how The Breakers has a comprehensive approach to giving back to its employees and community. That’s outlined in the social impact report discussed in our cover story. The report is a worthy model for any business that wants to be progressive.

Our “CEO Connect” feature this issue with Mark Zoradi of Cinemark also gives great examples of innovation. I have to confess that I usually plop in front of my big-screen TV rather than go to a movie theater, so it was an eye-opening experience that might make me reconsider.

The evening at the Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton started with a reception that included gourmet food and cocktails, which moviegoers can enjoy in the theater’s restaurant and bar. We then adjourned to one of the theaters for the interview. Zoradi said Cinemark has spent more renovating the Palace 20 than any other theater in the country.  As I sat in my comfortable reclining leather chair, I believed him.

The company’s website sends a signal about its innovations to consumers who can narrow their theater choices to those with stadium seating, luxury loungers, Imax, XD (extreme digital projection, with its wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screen), alcoholic beverages or expanded menus. Cinemark also has a movie club for $8.99 a month, which includes a 20-percent discount on concessions, waived online fees and one 2D (traditional-style) movie a month. Unused tickets roll over, and you can buy another ticket for $8.99.

I enjoyed the screening of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” a lot more than I would have at home, so there’s one couch potato who will turn back into a theatergoer.

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