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.
There is probably not a day that goes by that someone in a managerial capacity at your properties isn’t talking about strategy for the coming year; what is our plan, who is going to create it, who is going to implement it, etc., etc. While all of these conversations are highly important, none of them really make a difference if the strategic plan that we ultimately create is not dynamic, measurable, and executable. Even if we can achieve these three points, the question remains, how will we know if our ‘strategy’ has truly been successful?
As hospitality professionals, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of such things as “value for price paid,” “rational pricing,” and “rate integrity.” However, because these are so common in our work, there is an inherent risk that we may inadvertently lose sight of what these phrases truly mean or worse, there is risk that we may lose sight of how to execute strategies that reflect these important principles.
Particularly in this age of technology, with new software and hardware arriving on a regular basis to make our hospitality lives easier, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the basics of what we do. One important area that requires constant and close attention is the Sales organization of our hotels. We must ask ourselves: How comfortable am I with the strategy that my Sales team is implementing? How knowledgeable am I about who my Sales team is soliciting for business?
How much time do we really allocate to the development of our people? The short answer is “not nearly enough.” Think about it, how many times have you recognized the fact that the developmental time that you had planned to spend with your less-experienced colleagues this week/this month/this year just did not materialize as you had intended?
Conceptually, measuring results against efforts does not seem like ‘rocket-science’ when addressing the question of how effective we’ve been in executing a particular strategy. We all want to show a successful outcome from any work that we put forth, but how could we possibly know if it was in fact successful if we cannot measure it?
The difference between sales bonus plans that benefit the salespeople and those that benefit ownership can be dramatic. Shockingly, many hotels have plans that pay significant dollars to salespeople while the hotel may be missing its budget by millions of dollars. The challenge, and the opportunity, is to come up with a plan that sufficiently motivates salespeople to achieve maximum productivity, while absolutely connecting them to the overall financial performance of the asset.
Without strategic planning, it is difficult if not impossible to maintain or improve performance, regardless of market circumstances. One’s ability to execute against such strategic plans is truly “where the rubber meets the road.” In today’s hospitality environment, there is no shortage of well-intentioned plans, ideas, and initiatives all aimed at growing market share and profit. There is, however, a shortage of well-executed and implemented plans.
While the successes of recent years have led (finally!) to an ebbing in the growth of supply, the reality is that most markets in the US will have to absorb additional inventory growth in 2016. Nonetheless, our history is at least consistent; results improve, supply grows, new rooms are absorbed, improvement levels off, the cycle moves downward, and so it goes. We aren’t on the downward side just yet, but a harsh reality for all of us is the fact that, for 2016 and beyond, real success is going to come only to those who are strategic and proactive enough to seek out and implement new ways to do business.
It’s the nature of hotel sales organizations that much discussion and strategic planning is held around the subject of how to increase business levels. This effort is essential; how to find new sources of business, how to grow existing accounts, these are things that are crucial to the increased revenue performance and profitability of your assets. While you may have a reasonably high degree of confidence that this is already taking place, do you have the same level of trust that your sales organization is equally focused on stealing business?