Whether just stopping in, grabbing a coffee, or attending a meeting or a social event, people tend to gravitate to hospitality businesses, if nothing but to satisfy their sense of ‘curiosity.’ The challenge, and the opportunity, for those of us in the business is how to communicate the purpose of our businesses to these various customers and passers-by. What is it that makes our hotels or restaurants more than just purveyors of good & services, but rather important and contributing members of our community?
As the hospitality industry continues its march down the road of “ultra-competitiveness,” it can become increasingly difficult for the customer to differentiate between brands, between management philosophies, and between that which is hospitality and that which is commodity. While this may seem daunting, there is good news; the ability to separate ourselves from our competition in terms of strategy and management philosophy is completely within our control.
Hyatt has gone out to the owners of its hotels and let them know that it plans to launch “’an aggressive sales & marketing plan’ to drive more direct bookings...”. As so many are now doing, Hyatt is looking to reduce its dependence on the OTA’s and their associated cost model by pushing more customers to book direct. What’s wrong with this picture? The painting of the OTA’s as an ‘adversary’ is not only unwise, it is actually also unfair.
With the never-ending parade of brands, sub-brands, soft brands, and more that enter our competitive marketplaces on an almost daily basis, it can be challenging to maintain focus on the day-to-day operation of our properties. As competition continues to grow, both in properties and in brands, it can become increasingly difficult for us to focus on those things which truly separate our properties from those of our competitors. While those things that we have done historically in order to effectively compete still hold true, we must also come to grips with the fact that we must learn to compete differently. No matter who you listen to or who you read, the data is everywhere: today’s guest wants more of an experience than a transaction. How are you addressing this in your properties?
As hotel owners and operators, it is our business to be absolutely fluent with what’s happening in our buildings. Who are our guests, what activities are taking place, what is the condition of the product, etc., are all questions that we deal with every day. While we generally do an excellent job of staying on top of all of this detail, there are occasions where we may be caught by surprise. How well do you know what’s happening?
As has often been stated, “information is power,” and the information that is available to us today in the hospitality industry is no exception. The information that we have access to relative to how our customers view us is readily available, highly visible, and unfortunately, woefully under-appreciated.
Recently, HSMAI (Hotel Sales & Marketing Association International) conducted an informal survey of its membership to better understand how property leadership and property sales teams communicate with one another. While the results were not necessarily surprising, they were overwhelmingly consistent. Salespeople want more information from property leadership and from ownership, and this can be easily addressed.
So much conversation is held in all industries about the importance of leadership. Just think about the various terms used as descriptors when we talk about leaders: powerful, dynamic, passionate, come to mind when we are thinking positively. Weak, indecisive, incompetent come to mind when we are thinking less positively. The common denominator, however, is the fact that the leadership skills are crucial to the success of any business.