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We draw inspiration from the world around us and we want to share our knowledge with you. Tap into our latest thinking on the issues that matter most in hospitality today and find out what trends are going to shape our industry in the future.

Hospitality Transformation 2017: 5 pillars of managing change
14 December 2016, by Samantha Noll in Human Resources

“The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades."

— John P. Kotter (Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School)

Change is a concept to be mastered. While there may be a common perception to fear what change has in store for us, which is entirely normal, it is not something to shy away from and should be looked at with positive anticipations. No doubt, there is a widespread recognition that the rate of change in the hospitality industry is picking up – we are no longer the “traditional” industry that everyone hints at. Change is solidifying itself as the norm, and it is the way forward for the years to come! With the wealth of innovations and increasingly digitalized processes, everybody is looking to take on all opportunities that can make themselves and their businesses do things better & faster. This is no different for our hoteliers.

Sure, there are some things that will always remain at the core of hospitality, such as ensuring a friendly & genuine welcome of your guests, serving the desired morning coffee at the right temperature, and having clean & crisp bed sheets for a comfortable night’s sleep… What we do see changing is HOW things are being done thanks to the aid of technological advancements and changing structures.

2017 is just another breath away… and there is a lot to look forward to in the hotel space. Let’s take a sneak peek at “what is hot” and coming up to get a taste!

  • Voice-activated rooms. Did you ever get cosy in your hotel bed just before sleeping and would have just loved to magically switch off the main light by the entrance without getting up? And at the same time put the TV off but realized you left the remote control lying somewhere far from you? How about changing the room temperature (especially when you have no clue where the thermostat is…)? Soon, all you will need to do is just say the word out loud and it can be done! The Aloft is already piloting this under the name “Project Jetson” with Apple’s Siri and taking into account feedback from guests and hotel operators to optimize the feature.
  • Messaging apps. “The new language of the globe” as indicated by Skift earlier this year. We are constantly engaging with our own social circles via messaging apps because let’s face it: it’s an easy & efficient way to be in touch! Why should it be any different for engaging with hotel service employees? Big hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt & IHG are making this part of their communication strategy through their native apps. Smaller industry players without native apps can also implement a similar strategy using third party platforms such as ALICE and Checkmate. Being connected through social networks via messaging is also hot on the list as a dual approach to reach a wider audience.
  • Hotel innovation labs. The testing of innovations and getting live feedback is of rising prominence. Marriott recently introduced the world’s first hotel in “live beta”: M-Beta at Charlotte Marriott City Center. In a nutshell, guests can simply push beta-buttons at the hotel to approve/disapprove the innovations displayed with a live tally. I expect to see more of these types of hotel labs popping up, strengthening the consumer voice & ultimately defining hotel concepts of the future.
  • Hotel consolidation. Mergers & acquisitions have also been a highlight of 2016; two major examples include Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood and Accor’s purchase of FRHI Hotels & Resorts. Scalability is the backbone of these acquisitions. It will require significant resources to see how teams are to collaborate in this new structure, and to share best practices company-wide, adopting new values & standards to work in unity.

Overwhelmed? Indeed, such changes taking place can be overwhelming, and get you thinking: how do I stay up to date with everything? And how do I help implement new things smoothly within our organization? Change management strategies are an effective toolbox to look into when facing this accelerated growth rate we are experiencing in hospitality.

Here are our 5 fundamental pillars to get you going!

Pillar 1: Innovation-driven company culture

The heart of your company: your corporate culture. This is the foundation that your team stands on. To successfully embrace change together, there must be a foundation that’s stable, and that everyone can use as a “cushion”. The values that you hold unanimously and the roots of your business is what keeps your people standing strong, collaboratively, moving in the same direction. Bringing in an innovation-driven mindset within your culture and thereby setting the stage for any future change-related projects is what helps your company grow and is the first step to successful change management.

Pillar 2: Empowerment philosophy

Your company is only as strong as your team of people that run it; from junior to executive level. If a corporate-wide change is taking place, it is highly important to get the buy-in from all layers within your organization. Your frontline employees are an essential puzzle piece and can also provide highly relevant first-hand input for day-to-day operations-related projects. Because change is often feared, turn it around and help your people want to create the change themselves, without forcing it upon them. Empower your team, explain the reasons for change to gain their understanding, get their feedback & ideas, and have their valued input be actionable. Whatever change needs to be implemented, it needs to start and be lead successfully by the main stakeholders, “walking the talk”. Engagement and commitment is key!

Pillar 3: Simple & ongoing communication

Enough said. Effective communication is the backbone that supports the essence of Pillar 1 & 2. Bringing change-adoption into your culture makes it a necessity to talk about it often; make change a concept as familiar as possible for all new and existing team members. Having simple, honest and direct communication eases understanding and can facilitate acceptance as well as decision-making organization wide. And don’t forget to throw emotion in there! People can relate to it even better than just hard facts & logical reasoning. A clear scope, the expected impact, and understanding of the main stakeholders involved in the change process is essential.

Pillar 4: Results assessment & improvement

As with every project or implementation of something new, measuring results is of utmost importance. Not only does it give you something to work towards to achieve certain results, but helps you and your team notice areas of improvement to action in due time. Within this process, empower your team to make the change happen as smoothly as possible and to the best of their personal abilities. Provide training where necessary to strengthen weak areas. Communicating any successes along the way, small or big, gives increased stability within the change project itself and confidence to your team to continue.

Pillar 5: Anticipated resistance handling

If you know upfront that this certain change will bring up some challenges, come up with a robust plan to address any anticipated issues. Be your own devil’s advocate and counter the arguments to make sure you have sound points to deliver to your team, instilling confidence in the decision to implement this change or innovation.

What’s important to remember during this entire process is the following:

  • We are generating an ever-increasing amount of data in our industry; the more we can turn this data into actionable insights, the more we develop a sound data-driven business strategy.
  • Pace things that require multiple adjustments; it is already not easy accepting change in the first place, and it is harder to accept more than one change at once. In other words: let’s make change easily digestible :) 
  • Moreover, make the change as sustainable as it needs to be by ongoing communication and ensuring the right skills are prominent within your team; provide them with the right tools & training to make this possible.

The following quote sums up the essence of survival quite simply, and is also applicable to all of us in our industry (its science!):

“Survival does not belong to the strongest, but rather to those that adapt more easily to change”

– Charles Darwin (Scientist; theory of evolution)

Fostering innovation and growth within your business will keep you driving this industry forward, with you behind the wheel!

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