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The Point of No Return: Business Lessons from the Economic Crisis

publication date: Aug 3, 2012
author/source: Conor Kenny, Guest Columnist @ HospitalityEducators.com


Hotel Industry Magazine - Actionable Intelligence for the UK's Hotel Industry


The Point of No Return: Business Lessons from the Economic Crisis

   Columnist Conor Kenny from Conor Kenny and Associates asks what business lessons we can learn from the current economic crisis and its affect on the Irish hotel industry.

In last month’s column, I wrote about the crisis that faces the hotel and hospitality industry in Ireland. Now, it’s time to look at how we can learn from all of that.

What must change? What will the difference be?

Sometimes an advisor will tell you that “you are at a crossroads” That can be true but T-Junctions are better!

A crossroads assumes you can keep going on the same road; a T-Junction forces a new path. You have to turn left or right. “Carrying on” is not an option.

To quote:

There is a point at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back. Life’s point of no return.

Dag Hammarskjold quotes (Swedish Statesman and United Nations official, 1905-1961)

What will change? What will be? Here are 14 thoughts to think on:

1. Ebb and Flow

First, a ‘money fright’ reminds us all to save for that rainy day. It came, it poured and it’s still drizzling heavily. The lesson is better money management. Peaks will be followed by troughs and business will never be consistent, it will ebb and flow.. You have learnt how to manage money better, now it’s time to invest in those skills and change your outlook too.

2. Special Service

Great service simply means making someone feel special and making their life easier. It got lost. It’s at the heart of hospitality. It needs focus, training, investment and time for your people and time for your guests.

3. Out and About

Legendary General Managers were seen and heard. They were obvious and that reassured. Today, some have slipped into underground bunkers. Now, they need to get back to being out and about. Selling is for everyone and greetings must never forget hearty goodbyes.

4. Get Together

Small hotels will struggle without accepting the new order. It’s like the supermarket and corner shop. Yes, some will survive but only if they are agile, quick, different and original. If not, big brands will dominate. Secondly, small hotels won’t have the buying power or shared benefits of a big group. However, there is nothing to stop more effective collaboration. More on that in a minute.

5. Sales and Marketing

In good times, sales and marketing suffer. Simply, business is flourishing and these fundamentals become secondary. That’s a terminal disease that will haunt in a recession. Great sales and marketing are something you have to do every single day, regardless of the climate. That requires time, skill, expertise, focus and understanding the difference between the two.

6. Recruit Well

It’s a cliché but your business is only as good as the people you employ. They are the only people who can create, deliver and inspire the plan. They are your brand, they can kill it too. Recruit far more effectively. Chase track record, give trial periods, use rehearsals and build in safety nets and risk assessment

7. Your Message

Most hotels offer “Great food, Great Service and Great People” The worst part is the belief that sounded original. It’s imperative to tell me why I should buy from you. It’s the question nobody asks but everybody wants answered.

8. Marketing Companies

Review your marketing associations. They are expensive and, in most cases, they are not measurable. Are they representing you well? How do you know? Do they treat each hotel equally? Could that rather large check be used more effectively in other ways? Do they give you measurable promises? More importantly, measurable results?

9. Online or Off Track?

You can’t avoid being au-fait online. It’s not the preserve of Generation Y, it is the way we now communicate, listen, watch, research, spy, review and report. If you are not there, you don’t exist. Manage your message, manage your brand and, most importantly, manage what your people are saying about you.

10. Training

If a General wanted to conquer a hill, he’d draw up a plan and consult his Officers. Before that, he would train his troops. Then, before the battle, he’d motivate them and lead from the front. Before the recession, training got lost “We are too busy” During the recession training got parked “We have no money” Tomorrow is another day, another choice. Before you decide, think of the General

11. Value

“It’s all about price.” I have heard that more times than I’d care to remember, so have you. It’s not; it’s about value. Value is a price – I’m happy to pay for what I get. Focus on value, but make sure your troops understand the difference first.

12. Culture and values

How you lead says a lot about you. More importantly, it says what I will or won’t do. In stormy waters we need calm, clear and confident leaders. Roaring from behind will generate a response but a response is not motivation. The future will be even more influenced by who we recruit. Good people always follow the leader, the real leader.

13. Ideas

Idea generation needs to be a new part of your routine. If you are not different from the existing hotel, why should I come? The best ideas always come from within. Who knows better what guests want other than the guys and girls on the floor? Trust them to come up with the ideas and, better still, allow the creator to implement. Then, see what happens to morale and the guest.

14. Stop

I read a detailed industry overview recently. One distinguished hotelier spent all of his slot complaining about competitors, unfair this, unfair that. Life is not fair, it never was. It’s also a waste of time being a curmudgeon. The worst of the storm has passed. Clouds will give way to sunshine. The ebb will be replaced by the flow and coffers will slowly rise.

The business of hotels will be here forever. It’s a marvelous business, full of really marvelous people. It’s time to learn, grow and move on up. After all, that’s what every successful business does – every single day.

By Conor Kenny

About Conor Kenny and Associates: Conor Kenny and Associates are experts in sales, marketing, sales training and people development. They help you to get the most out of your people and your business. As skilled marketing consultants and experienced experts in innovation, sales, marketing and communications, they know that you and your people have skills too. Companies don’t innovate. People do.

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