When looking for change, hoteliers need to think beyond housekeeping
A fight is brewing in the hotel.
I’ve heard it over and over again in conversations around the industry and at industry events. Hotel owners want a leaner, meaner operating model designed to protect profits. Hotel brands want to return to a more robust service model that will help improve guest satisfaction scores. Hoteliers are caught in the crossfire. But with ongoing staffing challenges, operators are strongly in favor of finding more efficient ways to run their properties.
All of this creates an interesting dynamic for the industry and calls for the need for innovation and, dare I say, disruption of the operating model that hoteliers were perhaps all too comfortable and accustomed to before the pandemic.
This kind of pain is healthy and natural as the world and industry continue to evolve, and obviously big life-changing events like a global pandemic would be the catalyst for major change. But one thing that I find too appalling is how quickly conversations around this topic go from macro to micro.
What I mean by that is that conversations about how the broad operating model needs to be refined or even seismically changed always seem to turn to conversations arguing about how often housekeeping should be done. The lines of this argument seem hopelessly predictable. Owners want less to reduce labor. Brands want more, at least in cases where they think customers want more.
But please forgive me for thinking there must be more. When we think about how things need to change, focusing on just this operating model agreement, as integral and central as it is to the entire operation, seems counterproductive.
Something that has come back a lot during the pandemic and in the aftermath of it is the concept of zero-based budgeting, something I’ve heard many hotel companies pay at least lip service to before the pandemic, but s then engage more holistically as revenue craters.
The idea is simple. When you set a budget, you’re really starting at zero, an empty profit and loss, and building from there to make sure you’re not continuing to fund parts of the business just because that’s how it has always been done.
What I think hoteliers should venture to do today is instead of focusing on the aspect of the operating model that is clearly the easiest to distract, rather finding a way to brainstorming or planning that incorporates a version of zero-based operations. Reconsider how a hotel can and should operate from the start with little to no assumptions. Consider how to operate a hotel from the ground up to drive real and deep innovation.
The added benefit of this is not only to help in the brainstorming process, but also to eliminate existing conflicts and perhaps pave the way for more compromise between the various stakeholders in the hospitality industry. That’s my hope, anyway.
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