I didn’t expect to get schooled in the teachings of Charles Darwin during a panel at the HD Expo & Conference in Las Vegas yesterday, but then, isn’t it just like a hospitality design conference to show you common themes through a new perspective?
“There are a lot of similarities between companies and species. … Repeated deficits in either one results in annihilation,” began John R. Hardy of The John Hardy Group, a real-estate development and investment consulting firm.
To avoid annihilation, species and companies must adapt to survive. Darwin called this evolution. For hoteliers, the concept has the less politically charged label of innovation.
“Innovation is the key to survival in this kind of market,” Hardy continued. “The more innovative you can be, the greater chance you have to establish domination.”
One would think great companies do this easily. But that’s not always the case. When Darwin coined the term, “survival of the fittest,” his “fittest” weren’t always the strongest or most intelligent. They were simply those species that were the most adaptable to their environment.
That’s good news for hotel companies of all shapes and sizes. In the face of such adverse economic conditions, adaptability is just as important as their size and strength.
On one end of the spectrum, for example, is Marriott International. The company is leveraging its scale to cut without cannibalizing, said Eric Pinckert of the Brand Culture Company. In one such initiative, the hotel behemoth combined its purchasing power to get a less costly deal on landscaping services across a number of hotels, as opposed to contracting property by property.
On the lighter end of the scale is Stay hostel in Los Angeles. With the help of a creative design team, the property is turning the notion of a hostel on its head with a boutique-inspired design that’s easy on the eyes and wallets—a combination that’s thriving with young travelers, said Michelle Finn of The Hospitality Design Group.
So whether we’re talking about a portfolio of 500 hotels throughout the world or a hotel with less than 500 rooms, it’s a hotelier’s ability to innovate that will yield success in the current market. Or, as Hardy explained: “The key to this experience comes down to one word: adaptation.”
Darwin would be proud.