Keys to Success Hospitality Tip: Focus on engaging the “high-touch” side of our business by instilling passion in our people #1

How often have we heard the expression that “Life is a journey.”?

Global authors and writers have noted that that travel is one of humankind’s most enduring symbols of freedom and ability to enjoy life.  The concept of travel is inbred into the human experience, and we as hoteliers need to be proactive in how we deliver that experience to each one of our guests.

In these times of continuing uncertainty in the cycles of the slow rebuilding of global economies, oil spills, seemingly illogical stock market responses to speculative stories and more, we as hoteliers and the travel industry need to maintain the uniqueness of our services, regardless of our style or location of hotel.

Travel and tourism is the number one industry of many countries of the world and considered the largest service sector export for the United States.  It is one of the largest employers, developing workers at all levels and areas of expertise.  We have all heard the statistics on the millions of jobs, the billions in payroll income and the substantial contributions to governments everywhere as communities of all sizes benefit as well with significant tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments.

Today’s every day reality is one that interacts with so many people, always seemingly in a hurry to get somewhere else.  Time becomes even more precious, yet we run the risk of becoming a commodity or every day common product if care is not exercised.

I became fascinated with the hospitality industry at the age of 15 at what was then a tired Vermont resort, but the appeal of the industry was magnetic because of the very special personal interaction between guest and host (innkeeper, general manager, owner or whatever the title).  Even though the hotel was “a bit worn” and travel trends were changing, there remained an excitement about actually providing a unique experience.

This is the initial article in a series that will focus in short segments about how to deliver that experience today, whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated.  One of the clients I served was interested in this topic and for those programs I reached out for some additional insight to someone I knew from the 17 years I proudly spent as a Tennessee hotelier. Johnny Walker of Nashville has been involved in the hospitality industry his entire career. Johnny Walker Tours is probably Nashville‘s most experienced tour operator, dealing with various  riverboat and music festival packages, guide services, reunions, group business and much more.  He also has a number of hotels and brands and served at one time as the CHOICE Hotel Owners Council President.  Johnny and I are long time associates in the years we overlapped, as we served together on a number of industry councils, commissions and hotel association boards.  When asked, Johnny shared three goals with me that he felt were important for the program I was preparing:

  1. the message that “every room rental/stay must be viewed as an experience”
  2. to explore practical ways to motivate the staff that delivers hotel services
  3. we must all recognize that while we are in an electronic age at the ownership and management level, the front line staff delivering the services may not be or the guests may prefer the personal touch

The program content evolved into four objectives:

  1. To understand and define the Experience Economy
  2. To encourage hotel general managers and their staffs to think about the “guest experience” and how it needs to be built into the mindset of every hotel associate for every guest.
  3. To recognize the danger of  becoming a “Commodity”, and ways to avoid becoming  ordinary
  4. To provide attendees with the opportunity to interact with each other on ways to immediately address challenges at their hotels.

The program featured attendees sharing specific examples of products that are commonplace today that avoided becoming commodities and contrasting them with others that have fallen into disfavor because of a lack of delivery of quality experience.

These attendee-inspired sessions moved quickly into the hospitality/lodging world and identified the “guest experience” of today’s guest in three areas:

  1. breakfast
  2. sleeping and
  3. staff responsiveness

Discussion on clear differences between products and services were held and recognition of what we are really trying to do was the outcome.   In the next blog, I will share specific examples and insights on how we might engage our associates on the “high touch “ side of hospitality.

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS  7.29.10                                      ,

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 mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry.   Services are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip : Focus on Innkeepers and the Guest Experience

I regularly write on the need to balance “high tech” with “high touch” and recall some of my best learning experiences from mentors who were the “hosts”, with examples shared in  “A Bakers Dozen” of   Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers [1]

Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inns almost 60 years ago, used the term  “Innkeeper”  for the person responsible to operate the hotels that were part of the system.

The organization that was named after a movie has certainly evolved and changed over the years, but the fundamental message about “innkeeping” remains the same for those of us who are passionate about our guests, our staff and the experience of staying at our hotels.

At a time when too much of the industry seems to be assuming that technology is the “automatic answer”, I do still see and find it refreshing to see certain professionals who continue to groom their staff people how to match clients’ needs with hotels’ value, features and benefits.

Kemmons Wilson :  20 Steps for Success

14. Opportunity knocks often.
It knocks as often as you have an ear trained to hear it, an eye trained to see it, a hand trained to grasp it and a head trained to use it.

Wilson had formulas for success I noted were posted at the University of Memphis Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management[2] and Museum.  Please send me a request to if you’d like a full set of these quotes in a power point presentation.



Key to Success Hospitality Tip to Hotel Owners – Focus on Hotel Profitability

This week is Step 2 of  next year’s capital budget plan, with preliminary plans submitted to owner or management group. The final approval should be in roughly 6 weeks, after the marketing plans and operating budgets are completed for next year.

Check with for the latest in best practices and ideas to improve service and profitability

Focus on Hotel Service – and the Guest Experience

The Hotel Guest Experience today is as meaningful as any other factor in guest satisfaction and loyalty. Hotel Housekeeping and engineering teams can contribute in significant ways, including guest contact and interaction. Take the time for group sharing of successes.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip : Focus on Hotel Marketing

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip :   Focus on Hotel Marketing

Review and update your hotel web site THIS WEEK, whether you are branded or independent. You must keep your information, photographs and other details fresh and current!  Schedule this essential task for review every other week on a calendar and assign someone responsible to monitor it.

A week of operational and promotional ideas for hoteliers

A week of operational and promotional ideas for hoteliers

11  Cheer up the Lonely Day

World Population Day

Hold daily pre-shift meetings in housekeeping and engineering to improve communications

Walk the hotel and view it from a guest perspective.


Heavy clean at least 10% of all guest rooms this month

Step 2 of  next year’s capital budget plan, with preliminary plan submitted to owner or mgt group.

13  Embrace Your Geekness Day

Test fire alarm  & check all fire extinguishers– document.

Check the condition of all ice machines and water filters.

14   Bastille Day

Hold a special class on customer service this week for representatives of different depts..

15  Tapioca Pudding Day

Call at least 5 clients this week

Provide awareness training of Blood borne Pathogens to all housekeeping staff.

16 Phone your hotel & make a reservation to see how your guests are treated AND to see how effective staff training is. Recognize the champions 17 Change oil and document safety check of hotel vehicles – at least every 60 days or as needed

Hospitality Tip of the Week: Focus on Service

Hospitality Tip of the Week:

Use actual examples and case studies of both successful and poor examples of service to guests in training classes. Have different staff share their examples for a genuine impact on real world scenarios