Some time ago while working for one of my favorite hotel management firms in Southern Caliornia, I made the realization that everything in the operations of a hotel needed to tell the same story. Every facet of hotel operations needed to be aligned with the strategic direction of the hotel. But after a few misteps, I figured out that if I wanted to successfully align my hotel with whatever the vision was, we also needed to have the ability to present this coherent story as an operations team. And this needed to be a story that made sense to the guests. But this story also had to be compelling and make sense for the employees if I was ever going to get them on board with the program at the hotel.
I learned this the hard way. The truth is there was never a compelling and coherent story that was top-of-mind for any of the 15 plus hotels I was assigned to. Oh sure, as a hotel owner and senior partner in developing portfolios of multiple hotel assets I was always clear on our need for growing market share, increasing profits and creating high-performance property operations teams, but these were the objectives we all expected to be working towards on every hotel assignment.
So it was never compelling enough to motivate the employees ...
A while back, an associate of mine and I thought that getting into rescuing troubled hotel assets was the way to go. We convinced the partners of the firm to make the tactical move to creating a rapid response team that could – at a moment’s notice - take over a hotel that was in trouble, then right-side it, and quickly put it on the path to recovery.
Well, we quickly learned that was easier said than done. All of these assets had been faltering for months, and some, for several years. And always, the hotel staff was traumatized, scared, angry and feeling helpless when we took over the property. You know, I thought we would be looked at as liberators riding in on the white horse. Instead, in most cases we took on the role of psychologist, bearing witness to a whole litany of operational nightmares including bad management, low pay, high turnover, overworked employees, a tsunami of guest complaints and debtor pilfering.
In fact, with these foreclosures and defaulted hotel assets we found there was a real palpable need for the entire team to process the loss they felt for the old property before they could free themselves up to be exceptional hoteliers again. I made sure we had frank and open discussions centered around the current need for change, and how we were going to accomplish it - the change. More importantly, how we were going to align those two issues with the new vision we had for the hotel.
We needed to be clear – now more than ever – what the future looked like for the hotel (the vision), what our core values were going forward, and how the work would flow through the hotel in order to execute the strategies to achieve that vision. And we needed to find a way to do this on the bank’s short turnaround schedule. So it needed to be compelling enough to re-energize and motivate the employees.
Having a compelling and coherent story up front helped lay the groundwork to achieve our vision every time..
Larry Fisher is the founder of Pivotal One Consulting. When he's not serving his clients, he geeks out on card games, barbecuing, and challenging his friends to top his awesome karaoke skills. He calls Palm Springs, California home.
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