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Friday, March 26, 2010

LESSONS FROM THE HOTEL INDUSTRY: The Evolution of Best Practices in Hospitality and Tourism, Part 1

Lessons from the Hotel Industry with Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA MHS

Recognizing that future success in hospitality and tourism will come from different practices if the industry is to continue to evolve and grow in the next generation.

The hospitality industry in many ways has become a mature industry, with innovations primarily in the technology side. Tourism, by contrast, can continue to evolve as the next generations embrace the traditional venues, while also seeking alternative locations and interests such as volunteer tourism, environmentally-related sites and humanitarian causes.
"As you climb the ladder of success, be sure it's leaning against the right building."
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I believe the five most important service management issues that will impact the hospitality and tourism industry over the next decade are the following:
  1. Addressing the declining profit margins of the traditional product-based hospitality industry through service management.

  2. Linking service delivery as a management tool to overcome the commoditization of the mature hospitality industry.

  3. Recognizing that global competition will continue to intensify, requiring the executives of the major international brands to focus specific efforts on cultural diversity of service and the guest experience.

  4. Developing an inherent service culture that truly engages all associates via ongoing communication and recognition that include associates’ perspectives and insights. This in turn increases their loyalty, efforts and professionalism.

  5. Employing specific service management tools and initiatives that cause a shift in guests’ perception of their experience from one of neutral satisfaction to an attitude of loyalty, preference and passion for the total experience. These inspired guests will be measurably more inclined to return to a hotel or restaurant than those are just satisfied with the experience. The opportunity for positive word of mouth recommendations will be significantly higher. Business growth will be an outcome.

I have been involved with delivering customer service, as a hotelier with international brands, an educator working with a range of stakeholders, and as a consultant assisting clients to improve their processes and results. Using my expertise and interests, I offer the following as major areas of research and execution to address those issues in global trends and competitors.


Identify those organizations that are address or ignore service management as part of business strategy, including best practices.
  • Best in class (20%) — Service management practices identified as the best today and significantly superior to industry norms. These might include hotel companies like Taj Hotels, Four Seasons and Hampton Inns. Tourism centers would include Disney and Dubai. Restaurant companies such as Kimpton Restaurant group and ARAMARK would be defined by level of service.

  • Industry norm (60%) — Service management practices that characterize the average or norm.

  • Dawdlers (20%) — Service management practices that are appreciably behind the industry norm.


Service management as a business strategy necessitates a new set of performance metrics that better reflect the total guest experience.

Companies with a tactical approach that focus on internal performance metrics miss capturing the “whole guest experience.” Best-in-Class executives balance internal with guest-focused metrics like guest history, one-time problem resolution, reservation guarantees and guest intent to return.


Identify and discuss the challenging issues facing the industry in order to prosper long-term.

Whether a hospitality and tourism business is trying to move from “Dawdler” to “Industry Average,” or “Average” to “Best-in-class,” they should consider the following potential building blocks in taking service management to the next level:

  • Measure service profitability, customer retention and per guest revenue regularly.

  • Conduct systematic planning, forecasting, and alignment of service resources.

Industry Norm
  • Appoint a senior executive to lead the organization’s service commitment.

  • Expand associate training to include all levels as fully committed to service management.

  • Adjust business processes to better anticipate guest needs and expectations.

Best in Class
  • Intensify preventative maintenance.

  • Expand associate training and mentoring.

  • Leverage successful service delivery to grow revenues.

  • Tie associate compensation to financial, operational and customer retention goals through balanced scorecards.

Part 2 of this series will offer practical hands-on recommendations for relevant service management for mid-career hospitality and tourism professionals in their continuing development.

What are you doing at your hospitality business today?

Feel free to share an idea for a column at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, and speaking engagements.

And remember, we all need a regular dose of common sense.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES are available from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE, and other industry sources.

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

John Hogan, a career hotelier and educator, is a frequent speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is a successful senior executive with a record of accomplishment leading organizations at multiple levels. His professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development, consulting, management, including service as Senior Vice President of Operations.

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Expertise and Research Interest
  • Sales Management and training
  • Turn-around and revenue management
  • Professional Development & Customer Service
  • Hospitality Leadership and Executive Education
  • Making Cultural Diversity Real
  • Accreditation & Developing Academic Hospitality programs
If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.

As the principal in an independent training & consulting group, John Hogan has served associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness. He has managed hotels with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independents, and created and launched a blended learning system for the world’s largest hotel chain in his tenure at Best Western International. He has conducted more than an estimated 3,200 workshops and classes in his career, including service as an adjunct faculty member for 20 years at three different institutions.

Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in operations, service, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis, including service as Senior Vice President of Operations in a specialty medically oriented hotel brand for eight years.

He holds a number of industry certifications (CHA, CHE, MHS, ACI) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands. He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his long-term involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

Service to the Industry and Hospitality Education includes working with the Educational Institute Certification Commission of the AH&LA, the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, the Commission for Accreditation on Hospitality Management Programs, the AH&LA and AAHOA Education and Training Committees, the Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Educators (CHRIE), the International Hotel Show and the Certified Hotel Owner program for the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association.

For more information, please visit John's TNNW Bio.


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