Getting the Most from Your Advisory Board

For as long as there have been hotel companies, there have been advisory boards made up of clients selected by those hotel companies.  Historically, as we “check the box” on those things that we need to have as hotel leaders, advisory boards are high on the list.  While creating advisory boards is a widely accepted practice, as with so many things strategic, there can be a huge disconnect between a perfectly good advisory board and achieving maximum benefit from that perfectly good advisory board. 

Advisory Boards, Leadership Councils, whatever name may be applied, represent an idea that is inherently good.  What could possibly be smarter than enlisting a handful of reputable and experienced hospitality clients to participate in a regularly-connecting discussion group about how to be more successful in our business? The devil, as they say, is in the detail. 

With the understanding that a body such as this can contribute mightily to our operations, we must also understand that there has to be a commitment to the success of such a body.  In other words, simply “having” an Advisory Board does not guarantee its contribution or its success.  It is up to us to establish a strategy and to monitor and measure success against that strategy in order for an Advisory Board to truly contribute.

Too many times, advisory boards or councils are established with the very best of intentions, but individual responsibilities, scheduling conflicts, lack of understanding of the necessary commitment, etc., etc. get in the way of these groups’ effectiveness.  To get the most from your advisory board, it’s crucial to consider the following:

a.       What do I want to achieve with my Advisory Board? 

b.       What kind of background should my Advisory Board members have that best fits my hotel(s)?

c.       What is a realistic expectation of the time commitment that my “Dream Team” Advisory Board can make?

d.       What are the specific responsibilities and deliverables of each Board member?

e.       How do I compensate Advisory Board members for their time?

f.        How will I execute/implement strategies that emerge from the Advisory Board’s work?

g.       Who will be responsible for the execution of these strategies

h.       How will I MEASURE (see our previous post on the importance of measuring) our results against the targeted outcome

What is clear is that there is a place in our hospitality world for Advisory Boards that are well thought out and well managed.  As with any strategic planning for any business, the effectiveness of these groups is directly related to the amount of effort and planning that goes into them from the outset.  If you have an Advisory Board in place today, you should be congratulated for your commitment to understanding the views of the customer. But know, that this is only the first step!  You should re-evaluate the output of this Advisory Board on a quarterly/semi-annual/annual schedule to make sure that all concerned are getting the most that they can from the experience.  Ultimately, as we have discussed here in the past, what gets measured gets done, and Advisory Boards are no different than any other parts of our operations in terms of the need to direct and measure performance.