Self-assessment is the best method to take toward improvement and can be much more meaningful than focusing solely on negative guest reviews.
In a dynamic industry like hospitality, it’s easy to get caught up in managing or responding to everyday challenges.
It often seems like we are under siege by an endless parade of audits, reviews and critiques. In order to successfully navigate through this maze, it is important to step back once in a while and ask ourselves a simple question: How are we really doing?
It starts with our own battery of internal management reports and periodic staff reviews. Then, we are scored almost minute by minute by established online travel agency and hotel review websites, plus through unsolicited comments on social media and blog posts. Importantly, the brands have inspection programs, including unannounced visits and those Guest Satisfaction Survey scores that carry a great deal of weight. Even JD Power & Associates has gotten on board the review train with its impressive-sounding—and influential—North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
Are we just pushing paper across our desks? There is more to hospitality than a review on Travelocity. Even if our current performance numbers look great, we should consider examining in a more contemplative fashion how well we are doing.
This is especially important at a time like now where everything seems to be going so well in the hospitality space. Are we remembering to care for our guests and our staff as we would like to be treated? Are we staying true to the principles upon which we founded our company? Do we have a handle on strategic growth versus jumping on every opportunity that comes our way? Are we still having fun with what we do?
Each of us will tackle these issues in our time and fashion. A retreat to a tropical island sounds nice, but it doesn’t need to be that memorable—or expensive. Some practical approaches include consulting books and podcasts where business leaders share their insights on issues like self-assessment, motivation or time management. This may help us rein in any distractions or wasted expense of energy in our hectic multitasking lives.
Next, it is valuable to benchmark ourselves against, in particular, comparable industries. For example: How are the airlines, rental car groups, retail or restaurant industries tackling team building and capacity issues, optimizing revenues per consumer encounter or managing their growth?
Or we can study industries like health care, where rapid growth and resource allocation are issues, or ones like manufacturing that have had to deal with workforce recruiting and training and capacity issues.
Are there any host community-specific issues that we have overlooked? Will that new highway affect access to our property and how will we respond; or have there been subtle shifts in demand drivers that we are neglecting? Boosting networking with local business and community groups may remedy our perspective on such issues.
Are we making sure that our employees are fully capable with new technology systems and in caring for today’s more sophisticated, sometimes bewildering guest? Are there better ways to allocate administrative and other fixed costs? How can I be a more successful negotiator, whether with ownership groups, brand partners or within my own organization?
All of this isn’t as easy a task as it might seem. In today’s Information Age, there is no shortage of self-help materials, even some tailored to the hospitality industry specifically. Navigate wisely through the available resources.
Moreover, once we have taken this personal inventory, consider expanding this conversation to your executive team and, then, invite an advisory group of respected peers to give you an outsider’s perspective of some of the issues just discussed. This last strategy can be a great way to learn from industry leaders with varied experiences, insights and accomplishments and, in turn, be a valuable form of networking.
It is never easy to open ourselves to scrutiny, whether the journey is a personal one; or expanded to include one’s organization and/or outside advisors. But by doing so, we ground ourselves, and, hopefully, subvert any misdirected steps we have been taking and achieve fresh perspectives on the tasks at hand.
Truth or dare? Let’s try both.
Kerry Ranson, a 21-year veteran of the hospitality industry, is chief development officer at HP Hotels.
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