Poker of Aces: 5 questions to 4 entrepreneurs of Made in Italy

This month we interview Antonio Pelosi, owner of Albergo Etico in Rome.

I come from a business background, I studied engineering and got an MBA. Then I followed a professionalization path in the hotel industry. It was during this period of study that I had a serious accident, which forced me to undergo rehabilitation for a year and a half. In that moment I experienced what it means to be disabled and, in that moment, I felt a strong desire to combine disability and the world of hospitality. I discovered the first Italian Ethical Hotel, in Asti, and got to know the team that manages it. My desire, at that point, was to bring that business model to Rome. I got busy and found the funds to make it happen, with which I set up the economic part of the project. The ethical one follows the wake of the Asti model. 

My biggest difficulty is the relationship with journalists and institutions, with whom it is often difficult to describe all the aspects of such a complex project. In addition, the relationship with the children’s families is very challenging. The latter are rightly full of expectations and have a high emotional burden, so they alternate moments of distrust with others of enthusiasm. In our hotel, young people with disabilities can work in reception, in room cleaning, in the dining room or in the kitchen. Everyone has a tutor and can grow by gaining experience and relationships. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to accept limits … and this is the sore point because not everything is always feasible, despite the very high investment of the children’s families. I remember, for example, the case of a family that had invested a lot to make their daughter learn English, which we tried unsuccessfully to involve in reception work. This is to say that these are very long paths, where it is necessary to proceed by feasible goals.

My goal is to develop young people who can then be hired by other hotels in the capital.  I would like the ethical hotel to become an “Academy” of excellence for young people with disabilities, who will then work in the national hotel industry. We need to work in such a way that their “employability” is based on acquired skills, not on pure social impulse, otherwise the objective of an inclusive process of job qualification will never be achieved.

  • If you had the opportunity to implement three improvements in your area of work, which ones would you choose? 

Certainly, in the first place, I would like to have “inclusive” software, that is, software that is accessible to everyone: I had a girl who was blind but with great cognitive abilities who, unfortunately, could not consult our hotel management software.

But the most important thing: I don’t want preconceptions or mistrust. I don’t want the “client” or the “colleague” to approach the differently abled young people in our environment with mistrust, thinking that their diversity makes them incapable or that they are with us only and exclusively for a sort of “welfare”. It must pass, instead, the concept that they are a real workforce of the hotel, with roles and concrete tasks. They, first of all, have a great desire to be useful and learn. In fact, it is often them who teach to those who are not disabled, how to deal with life…. with their gestures and their enthusiasm. It’s really true that sometimes disability is only in the eyes of who look at them.

Thanks for reading this interview and … see you at the next Ace! 

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