Don’t be a ‘slowtelier’

It has been my experience that the hotel industry isn’t exactly known for operating faster than a speeding bullet. Even in independent properties, there are many layers of management to funnel change and multiple operational departments that must be coordinated to make any transition effective. In other words (and to use a particularly cheesy portmanteau), when it comes to executing a strategic plan, many hoteliers might as well be known as “slowteliers.”

Don’t let this be you! With the current pace of new initiatives, hotel organizations (independent as well as chain) must learn to mimic the agility of a tech startup or an entrepreneurial company if they hope to adapt to forthcoming economic shifts. To use another portmanteau, what the hotel corporate culture needs are “intrapreneurs” — entrepreneurs that exist and operate within the shell of a larger organization.

Here are five proven actions you can take to realize the evolution from slowtelier to intrapreneur:

1. Take initiative.

This one is fairly straightforward. You aren’t going to get anywhere without effort, and no one is going to do the heavy lifting for you. Hours in equals results out! So with any bold new endeavor make sure you allocate sufficient man-hours to see it through to the end.

2. Ignore the daily minutia.

Part of what makes for the quintessential slowtelier is someone who lets himself or herself get bogged down by the endless quotidian metric sheets, analyzing and reassessing fluctuating short-term forecasts such as the weekly STR comp-set analysis. This is a fool’s errand. As a senior manager, you should be looking at the big picture — month-over-month and year-over-year statistics. This is the only way to see the future.

3. Committees be damned.

Sometimes committees (including the weekly planning committee!) by their very nature can stifle creativity and fast action. One of the biggest problems with committees — or any meeting, for that matter — is that they tie down individuals who don’t necessarily have to be there. If you need involvement or approval, approach your colleagues on a one-to-one basis so by the time the plan reaches the committee phase, it has already had eyes-on from most members and can thus circumnavigate the pitfalls of this process. Many people do their best work in isolation, so only meet when it’s absolutely needed.

4. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Whatever idea you are thinking of putting into action, you must first understand there are some aspects of the hospitality industry that are eternal. You simply cannot replace the human dynamic of many operations. Knowing where your true boundaries are will help you focus your thoughts on what is truly actionable on both a short-term and a long-term timeframe.

5. Real change is slow.

But wait, didn’t I just tell you not to be slow? Alas, life is never only black and white. You can preach sweeping changes to a brand’s makeup or revolutionary shifts in the corporate culture, but in order for any of these to be assimilated without any serious hiccups, you must plan them across a wide breadth of time. Being a slowtelier doesn’t mean moving sluggishly; it describes a failure to act on opportunities at the pace they require. Take an incremental approach — break large goals into smaller ones, and then divide those small objectives into tasks that can be readily completed within a day or a week, allowing you to act quickly and in stride with the long-term mission. This workflow subdivision should also give you a more accurate sense of how many weeks or months the overall goal will take to complete.

Keep these five mantras in the back of your mind, and you should be well on your way to escaping the doldrums of being a slowtelier. Plus, summer is nearly over, which means the lazy, hazy days of sun will soon be at an end. It’s the perfect time to put the pedal to the metal and act!