The view from Mount Lemming

The view from Mount Lemming

It occurs to me that one of the first words used to denote the hotel business is the word “inn,” which also happens to be the initial syllable in the word “innovate.”   

Remember the adage, innovate or die?  This announces itself as “truth” to me regardless of what business you are in.

Sometimes when I think of the speed in which the hotel business innovated, I laugh — something about a tortoise … I remember when I left my first big brand to dip my toe in the lifestyle and boutique world. I left because I felt there was so much more to our business model, and I wanted to go where I could make a difference — in profit, growth and development. People laughed at such a notion. I look back at those days and call them my Mount Lemming days. You remember the stories of lemmings. They were the rodent species living near the Arctic that supposedly followed one another off the cliff and committed mass suicide? If only one of them had taken a left or a right, they could have created something new and wonderful — if nothing else, the ability to sustain life.  

Personally, what I prefer to following the crowd (and an early demise) is to break new ground, go the road less traveled, invent something from nothing, lead the field, give people something to talk about. 

A simple case in point: At some point in time, a well-meaning hotelier (probably someone with an uncle in the chocolate business) decided that what guests needed was chocolates before bedtime. This rocked if you were two. Apparently though, the rumor of such an evening offering had the hotel world stand at attention, and other hotels quickly got into the game. Huge meetings ensued regarding which chocolate they could offer. Some of them even went so far as having their name on the chocolate. (Do you really want to spend money on marketing that ends up in a digestive tract or a garbage can?) Chocolate companies were in their heyday. (Let’s see … 2 chocolates x 1,000 guests per night @ $0.32 per chocolate … Yeah baby, pass the Clearasil!)

Anyway, one day, a lemming took a left. They saw milk and cookies. Another lemming said, “Halt. I am here to change the course of history. Let’s do a lavender sleep spray.” Another brave soul thought we needed a good night poem. Regardless, all these amenities were placed during something they called “turn down” service.  

Yes, I want a comfy bed, a liaison for all my needs, but who needs to be “turned down” just before bed? Perhaps we can innovate our language. Just a thought … you never know what could be produced.  

Be careful of getting too close to the cliff, lest you fall into anonymity. But do tread close to the edge if you are prepared to fly.