Dost thou desirest a more profitable hotel? Interpreting Shakespeare’s view on the hotel business

Dost thou desirest a more profitable hotel? Interpreting Shakespeare’s view on the hotel business

Every great hotel needs to tell a story. Let’s begin with one of the most famous story tellers of all times, Shakespeare, and see how his work can enlighten us today.  
Some of Shakespeare’s most memorable words were, “To be or not to be. That is the question.” Please note the question was not, “To do or not to do.”
When passionate about creating optimum performing organizations, let’s assume the distinction between being and doing is an important one. (The most obvious distinction is that we are human “beings” and not human “doings.”) 

Even Frank Sinatra spoke to this when he sang “Do Be Do Be Do”:  

  • Do focus on your culture.  
  • Be mindful of the impact you have on hundreds or thousands of people a day and use that to a great end.
  • Do include everyone (and I mean everyone) in your organization in the “great hotel experiment.”
  • Be ready for extraordinary results.
Look at the culture many hotels have (or a haphazard one by default, by not establishing a true culture). On any given day, we discuss what to do about this and what to do about that. There is always something to do, fix, get in front of, get behind, get beyond, et cetera. Doing things are critical to the functioning of the system, but just “doing” without a clear definition of “why we do what we do” will yield less than optimized results. 
For just a moment, consider what “being” has to do with anything. I submit that in this game of life, who we are being has the bearing on what we do, and not vice versa. (We have often been told that if we do this, then we can be that, but it is really who we are to begin with that gives us what we do and the consequential results in our lives.) The best athletes don’t just practice until they win. In their minds they are already the “best,” and it is that declaration that gives them what they “do” (their practice).  
Consider a hiatus from business as usual for two or three days. Roughly, you might go through these stages:
  • Create the end result first — the experience you want for all constituents. 
  • Determine what culture would support that and design it.  
  • Determine what positioning and identity would separate you from all other hotels in your competitive sets (and your new identity might just have you stealing share from comp sets you are not currently in).
  • Design how you will deliver the experience in every moment of truth (guest and associate interaction, marketing, et cetera).  
  • You may consider bringing in someone to help guide you on this journey, primarily to assist in new thinking. 
Once you declare your hotel or brand to be “X,” build a story around that. This is different from most mission statements. One of the global brands I worked for made it clear that all associates had to “memorize” the mission statement. I couldn’t get them to do it. I even hung it on the back of the bathroom stalls, figuring that was good downtime to absorb our mission. It turned out that a mission without a strong culture to back it up is just empty jargon to the associates. It is important to get into who the associate is (being) to get to what the stakeholders want. You probably want to design your organization so that every associate works like an owner. It will enhance desired revenues, productivity and profits and make a difference for local and global communities. 
To the guest or outsider, one can’t tell being from doing — that’s an inside job — but the distinction the observer will respond to is associates being “amazing” and engaged in something that really feels like service in a world-class hotel, and not mere process fulfillment. This is true regardless of your hotel type and current market position. 

Voila! Hospitality reinvented — something will be truly different about your hotel, brand or organization. I can’t answer the chicken-and-the-egg conundrum, but successful hotels know that a clear story of who they are comes before what they do every time.