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What We Want and Need NOW in Hospitality
How motivated are you for Next Year?
”Is Hospitality Still a Place for Entrepreneurs?”
Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
This is a non-traditional commissioned year-end column, in that is not a prediction of trends nor is it a list of New Year’s resolutions. I felt honored to have been asked by the editor of one of the world’s best known online publications to consider and share my thoughts on what we want to see more in the new year. I expanded it to include what we want and need in the coming year, which is reflected in the title that asks if hospitality is still the industry that motivates entrepreneurs.
What we want and need in Hospitality
One: Increased Cooperation between Franchisors and Franchisees.
The franchise model has been proven to be a successful vehicle for hundreds of thousands of businesses in many industries globally. There are obvious areas of potential differences of interpretation in the franchise agreement, yet the concept of cooperation makes so much more sense than has been the mis- directed sense taken by some organizations. The consolidation of Brands by a relatively small number of international companies has led to intensified friction in certain markets and types of hotels. There should be enough market difference for franchisors to provide the distinction which would reduce many of the frustrations for all parties. Consumers also are confused because there are so many products offered by the same franchisors that appear to have little distinction. We include this in our consulting and training, as well as having written on this in the past (Getting the Most out of your hotel franchise investment)
Two: Amplified Support of Hospitality Associations
A generation ago, many hospitality associations served as primarily professional centers of information and socializing. Today they have become centers of education, political lobbying, networking, consumer marketing and provide other needed services for Hotels, Restaurants, clubs, spas and other hospitality businesses.
Three: Better Attentiveness to the Need for Political savvy.
This does not mean just following the crowd or lobbying only for special interests, but rather a sincere collaborative effort with government. Regardless of political affiliation or party, government needs to work with the business community leaders to effectively make progress. Business is used to be working towards specific measurable results, while too many politicians seem to work on getting re-elected. Genuine collaboration may mean serving on community councils or commissions, which also means the opportunity to have open and ongoing input in the process. For those of us who have served on some of those commissions, we have been able to influence through logic and sincere dialogue.
Four: Appropriate renovations aimed at consumer satisfaction and a targeted ROI.
Brands need to grow, and consistency and product differentiation is important for the identity of those brands. At the same time, if brands insist on certain renovations that are clearly designed to strengthen the brand identity as contrasted with long-term owner profitability and success, the conflicts identified in #1 are created. Consumers are the ones who eventually paying for these renovations and improvements; if they are misdirected, those hotels and brands can go the way of many airline companies and hospitality brands that have been involved in on unsuccessful bankruptcies the last 25 years.
Five: Practical Strategic Planning
Peter Drucker introduced the term management by objectives more than 50 years ago. With his approach to strategic planning, options were identified, considered, discussed and executed. Using the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats), hoteliers can actively deal with OTAs, revenue management, asset protection, staff development, competitive marketplaces, and proper market positioning. Dealing with these and other issues cannot happen by themselves and will require senior management commitment and support. In my 35+ year career as a hotelier, educator and consultant, I have seen repeated successes of those who take the time to follow this process. We write on it often, share approaches on our site and know it works.
Six: Augmented Training
One cannot “train hospitality”, just as one cannot specifically “teach attitude.” One can influence personalized service. This personalized training is not globally the same cannot only offered in the generic programs promoted by some brands and management groups. It must be one that is felt, developed and shared by key owners and managers. We all know that favorite restaurant or inn where we are always made to feel welcome. How do you suppose that happens?
Seven: Focus on fundamentals
Earle Nightingale, in his award winning Lead the Field ,identified four fundamentals that are universal for success in any business. These included
1. research and development
3. operations and
2012 needs to include successful understanding and focus of these fundamentals as markets and products continue to evolve. But how many hotels restaurants and other hospitality businesses really pay attention to all of these four fundamentals? How many academic programs or universities address these?
Eight: Ethical behavior and professionalism
We @HospitalityEducators.com use case studies and public examples of both exceptional and embarrassing situations in our training, online programs, consulting and our writing. It is refreshing to see the positive feedback of program participants who “want to do the right thing”, yet did not know sometimes how to examine the options. This also includes common courtesy and manners, which are becoming more important as the global markets continue to expand and we interact with people from all around the world in person or online.
Nine: A Genuine Commitment to Learning and Professional Development at ALL Levels of the Hospitality Organization.
This includes opportunities for all associates in the organization who are interested in improving themselves. This could be language, marketing, certain professional skills, and career development. If opportunities are only offered to a select few, that organization is likely to be limited. Look at the example of the staff at any Apple Computer/Technology store and compare that to any competitor you can think of. Which staff has had the opportunity to learn and develop? What is happening at your hotel?
Ten: Boost the value proposition
The peripheral surroundings in the marketplace continue to have a major impact on the hotel and restaurant industries. Being unique (not a cookie cutter) and offering a differentiated product is clearly a major keys for success in these competitive times.
The government issued statistics may try to hint at improvements in performance, productivity and job creation, but the millions of unemployed or underemployed people throughout many developed countries remain staggering. We must make our business offerings appropriate and relevant with the changing needs and lifestyles of our guests. We must offer consistently the proper experience at our hotels and restaurants at the prices that our guests can afford to pay and the price they choose to pay.
The online travel agencies are blamed for aggressive discounting, but it is the decision of the individual hotel and restaurant to decide their prices and at what value. I often write on the danger of our industry becoming a commodity that has no distinction and holds little interest from consumers or others. Competition will continue to increase in marketing, products and brands. Some of our clients are business travelers, while others are leisure or social travelers. Even in good times, many companies will be careful to use hospitality businesses that are fair and pricing inconsistent and experience.
Eleven: Provide Clearer Communications
We often are frustrated by news bytes of partial information and by politicians’ comments that appear so often to be self-serving. As business leaders and hoteliers, restauranteurs, and hosts, it is up to us to be clear in our communication to our associates, our suppliers, bankers, our clients and all we deal with. This means using the tactics in the first 10 items mentioned above.
Twelve: Restore pride in the identity of hospitality in hotel management – by action from senior executives and hotel general managers.
I discovered that I wanted to be in the hotel and hospitality business when I was 15. While working for a family business in a small independent hotel, I learned the value, fun, satisfaction and profitability of the industry. Over the last 35 plus years, I have experienced several major economic downturns and recoveries, as well as developed some lifelong friendships, competencies and wonderful experiences.
Numbers 10 and 11 discuss boosting posting value and improving communications in the hospitality field. I feel that the hospitality industry would benefit immensely with two actions steps:
Thirteen: Complete the bakers dozen
I often write columns that include 13 or a bonus item in the top of being discussed. In my career, I have learned a series of philosophies that I have called –Hotel Common Sense. These are 15 beliefs that I have found to have a major influence in my career success.
I invite readers to send me at John.Hogan@HOSPITALITYEDUCATORS.com your bonus item that you feel we need and want for success in 2012. I will compile ensure a reader input within the next three weeks.
Success does not come by accident or chance.
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