Fine tuning Your Hospitality Business Strategies for A Measurable Competitive Advantage - Part 2.
By Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
Monday, 28th March 2011
In every economy and location, there are market leaders and laggers, in Part 1 of this short series, I shared the perspective that hotel owners have the financial obligation for their hotel overall and that at least some of them must modify several of their business practices if they want their hotel to move forward and not remain just a member of the pack or worse, be a market lagger.

I offered two fundamental action steps to assist in becoming a market leader:

1. Evaluate the financials in a dramatically different fashion than you do now.
2. Make your marketing plan a living document NOW.

The previous section included specific details on how to make those action steps work that I have used them myself and seen work at all kinds of hotels.  Many owners do follow the intention of these two fundamental steps, yet still have a level of frustration because their properties do not perform as well as hoped or budgeted.  That responsibility often rests with their designated management and sales representatives, which brings us to Part 2 of Fine tuning Your Hospitality Business Strategies for A Measurable Competitive Advantage

Offering and providing a competitive advantage requires identifying a specific target audience with distinctly defined requirements.  It means developing and delivering high-quality and suitably priced accommodations, meetings and/or other services that you provide better than anyone else in your competitive set and market.

Hospitality businesses and hotels are always looking for a way to stand apart from the masses and that no longer means being with a particular brand.  It means providing something that means the needs for a specific target audience and there is the (secret) answer. It should be obvious – to excel and lead the field means being better than the rest of the field.

The question to answer is direct: what must my hotel do to  to excel and lead the field?

I have found in my career there are two specific answers. 

1. The first is to significantly study your market.
You research and  find an undeserved market segment that your property can serve, add any services or amenities needed and then get aggressively pursue and acquire the lead in market share.  I have successfully worked with many branded and independent properties in numerous locations and this can be done, as long as management and ownership support the plan with the needed resources.

2. The second is to step up the commitment to serve.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Air and many other brands, shared some of his perspectives on these strategies in a January 2011 issue of American Express' Open Forum.  The story, titled  Delivery is in the Details,  stressed several points Branson felt were essential to take an idea to the level that one could changethe industry.

He outlined the background setting:

1. a simple, straightforward proposition that potential customers find easy to understand
2. the need to raise the necessary capital
3. the actions of selecting your team
4. publicizing your new venture by every means available

He then asked "What happens next?" and that is where so many hotels, restaurants and hospitality businesses face trouble.  Branson reasons that the "only difference between merely satisfactory delivery and great delivery is attention to detail."

The article talks about he, as CEO, takes notes everywhere he goes and most importantly, he acts on what he sees needs attention.  He commented on a specific occasion that the "Staff seemed desperate for someone to listen"  and he shared that he made sure that staff reports/needs were acted on as that was the real key to getting problems solved.

In the last quarter of 2010, I had the pleasure of offering a series of programs for MeetingsQuest in four major cities.  In a program titled A Career Hotelier's Insights on Optimizing Meeting Success, I was able to interact with several hundred meeting planners and hoteliers who shared their descriptions of the "Ideal Group" and the "Ideal Hotel".  In a column to be offered early next month, I will share their descriptions and you can see how your hotel compares.

Success can be achieved with commitment, focus, service and belief, as evidenced in this short video
It's all in a State of Mind - http://youtu.be/R428_ZFKR78

In the meantime, what are you doing to be the BEST in your market?

Hospitality Tip of the Week™:
" Be sportsmanlike, play to win, and then befriend your enemies.  If you do fall out with a partner, colleague or competitor, call that person a year later and take him out to dinner. It is likely you have a great deal in common. After all, why did you both get into the business in the first place? To deliver change, serve customers, reform an industry -- does any of this sound familiar? Now, what can you create together? "  Sir Richard Branson

Don't forget the special value being offered to industry professionals who read  who will receive a full 25% discount on annual membership in www.HospitalityEducators.com. This membership special extends through March 31, 2011. Follow the JOIN NOW prompts on the site and use the promotional code  4HO311 to qualify for the discount. (Please use all CAPITALs, as this is case sensitive)

Feel free to share an idea for a column at john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com   anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.
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