Independent innovators

A recent article in the New York Times spoke about hotels introducing innovative technologies at a faster pace, skipping test studies in order to get them directly into the hands of guests. It got me thinking about the advantages independent hotels and resorts have over chains when it comes to being creative and original.

One benefit of being independent is the ability to make quick decisions and implement new practices. We don’t have the layers of bureaucracy larger brands have to go through before getting approval for an idea. For example, I wanted to introduce wine lists on iPads at one of our restaurants to see how guests would like using them, and it was as simple as asking the F&B director to order them. Independent hotels are not restricted to the standard protocols, and that can be a good thing.

 Independents are unique experiences in and of themselves, and our ability to innovate and implement quickly allows us to give guests more of the unique experiences they crave at the resort and in the surrounding area. In the New York Times article, Jeff Semenchuk, Hyatt Hotels’ chief of innovation, said Hyatt Hotels would never talk to employees about the possibility of failure, but now they tell managers to “fail fast, fail cheap and learn from it.” I applaud that decision. That’s how we stay on the leading edge.

Independents need to be the chief innovation officer for each of their hotels, learning fast and cheap. Our management teams are close to the customer, allowing them to listen, try out new ideas and give guests more of what they want, and what they don’t yet know they want.