The year is almost over and hotel owners need to enter 2019 ready to win with a satisfied team by their side. Here are three elements of leadership that will cultivate a successful staff.
Whether you are an owner, industry executive or aspiring industry leader, one of the keys to success is team member satisfaction. Without a satisfied hotel staff, guests will not be served well and hence will not return and profits will be significantly reduced.
Based on this, I offer a brief review of what it will take to win in 2019—leadership, knowledge of how to gain trust and knowledge of the factors that can disrupt operations for your teams.
To discuss quality leadership, I will start by quoting a colleague who sits on the Lodging Industry Investment Council with me. Keith Kefgen, managing director and CEO of Aethos Consulting Group and author of “Loneliness of Leadership: Solitude to Success” says, “strong leaders are essentially great generalists in terms of knowledge areas, attitudes and skill sets … and focus on others and not themselves.” Attitude starts from the top and trickles down to everyone else. Good leaders with a hands-on approach can build teams up and help grow individuals. When team members have someone to lean on, learn from and that listens to them, they are much more satisfied and their quality of work significantly increases.
Excellent leadership talents include caring, giving and building others into leaders as well as staying informed on the constant, rapid technological advancements within the industry. Today, leaders must forecast revenues and expenses, be aware of which distribution channels are most profitable, learn new revenue management trends and know when to consider artificial intelligence or robotics. Mobile check-in with smartphones is now commonplace, and sharing economy disruptors and online travel agencies have reduced profit margins.
Today’s GMs are not just experts on service and leadership—they must know how to lead a highly diverse group of experts in fields that did not exist just a few years ago. “Through custom dimensions, custom intent and in-market/affinity audiences, we can reach new users and deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time,” according to Meredith Rauch of Screen Pilot. With this evolving landscape, a professional digital marketer can do this today and GMs must be aware of how to effectively utilize digital marketing.
The next key element is trust. According to Dr. Randy Ross in his 2016 book “Remarkable: Maximizing Results through Value Creation,” Ross exclaims “where trust is high, resistance is low—therefore, change and progress come quickly. Conversely, where trust is low, resistance is high. Therefore, change and progress come slowly.”
Company culture has become extremely important in retaining good talent and trust is developed through this positive company culture. Financial leadership skills are valuable for all leaders to have, especially those who want to advance. Leadership must always be caring and compassionate, but today’s increasing worker compensation costs, health insurance costs and labor costs may cause a business to fail. If that occurs, human conditions like layoffs, bankruptcy, foreclosure or hostile takeover will be much worse than the stress of dealing with and reigning in expenses. Today’s labor costs represent nearly 45% of hotel costs when we factor in workers compensation, health care costs and other payroll related expenses, so we must hire the best available talent.
Disruption is a subject that is seldom discussed, but look at our industry—this disruption is only partly caused by alternative accommodation providers like Airbnb. Technology is pushing disruption much further, specifically through the Internet of Things. OTAs have disrupted our profits dramatically since the beginning of this century and trends have not yet turned enough toward direct bookings. Robotics may indeed be an answer to the labor question above but not to replace labor, rather to change the job functions!
How can we protect our key assets? Cybersecurity is needed with increases in improvement and dependence on technology. Good cybersecurity comes from identifying our own important assets and the weaknesses they possess, and this cybersecurity isn’t just about stopping the threat, but also being able to get back on your feet and recover after a security breach.
The world is new and those who can stay on top of leadership today will have fun! Enjoy the holidays and have a great 2019!
Robert A. Rauch, CHA is an internationally-recognized hotelier, Hotel Guru, CEO and founder of RAR Hospitality, a leading hospitality management and consulting firm based in San Diego. Rauch has over 35 years of hospitality-related management experience in all facets of the industry. He also teaches Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University.
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