Business is business, and we are all in the game to be successful, yes? Fundamental as this question may seem, there is much more to the operation of our hotels, our individual business units, than simply meeting or even achieving established goals.
While every individual business in every individual community is important in its own right, there is something about hotels & resorts that makes our businesses stand out. Local residents and visitors to the community might easily overlook various retail outlets, but they seldom ignore a hotel or a restaurant. 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?
We all operate based upon strategic & business plans that are established for/by us on at least an annual basis. These plans (hopefully) lay outstrategies, tactics, and methods of measurement to ensure that the coming year is as successful as possible for ourselves as operators and for our owners. But what of the customer? How much of our extensive planning is aimed directly at the customer and at communicating to and with that customer about what is truly important to us as members of their community?
All businesses share a fundamental responsibility to participate in their community, and to seek out material ways to “do good” within that community. Blood drives, fund raisers, hosting “Take Your Kids To Work” day, and the like are all good examples of events that enable us to open up to our neighbors in a way that is not typical. But participating in a handful of charitable and well-intentioned activities over the course of a year do not, of themselves, define what we stand for. Quickly now, what does your 300 room luxury hotel in a major US resort destination really stand for? More importantly, what does the community where that hotel resides think that we stand for?
If you’ve hesitated for even a moment, you are not alone. So much conversation takes place today about the importance of workplace culture, yet many of us would be hard-pressed to define that culture in our own workplaces if asked. So how, logically, can we expect our hotels, resorts, & restaurants to demonstrate the culture of our company, to represent what we ourselves stand for, if we cannot identify these things ourselves? This specific issue represents one of the most significant opportunities that we face in the hospitality industry today. Defining who and what we are and that which is most important to us does not happen in ‘a meeting or two.’ Rather, this comes from a significant commitment of time and thought from leadership. In future articles in this space, we will offer examples and suggestions of how to get started implementing such a process to support your own organization.
For an industry that is so inherently tied to its customers, we hospitality ‘folk’ don’t do nearly enough to truly take up residence in our communities and represent what is important to those communities. We need to take more time, work harder, and dig deeper to becomes active and committed citizens who actually represent specific principles and beliefs. We all worry about hospitality becoming ‘commoditized;’ do something in your own neighborhood that really matters and prove that you’re not just another‘off the shelf’ product!