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Hospitality industry does more with less

The recent economic downturn prompted many hospitality businesses to adopt a "do more with less" strategy during the last 18 months, hoping that this would help them cope with the economic fluctuations that were occurring. This has created challenges for management throughout this industry, highlighting the importance of new and creative approaches to business challenges.

First, understanding what is "more" and what is "less" means that companies need to review their business plans to make sure they realistically explain what’s now expected from all employees, so they will be able to respond accordingly. Strategic planning, effective communications and inspired leadership are all needed if this is to be mastered. If staff or hours are cut, the organization must adjust so that the customer experience is not impacted negatively; and the company must manage the impact this may have on tip earners (especially if their base hours and wages were also reduced). Management needs to understand and master the process of changing how organizations manage their people, satisfy their customers and meet organizational goals.

Second, the recent layoffs have created a very different applicant pool. Highly qualified (and in some cases over-qualified) people are applying for jobs that they previously may have ignored. Hiring managers will need to be better prepared to spot the best talent from among those who apply, and then manage a different kind of person than they’re used to having on their team. Former managers may be applying for subordinate positions and the impact this has on teamwork and productivity must be carefully managed. Companies need to make sure that hiring managers have the required skills to hire and manage effectively in this new environment.

Third, communications today is more critical than ever. Hospitality companies are all about the customer experience and the employees that provide that need to understand their role and provide inspired service. Managers need to be optimistic, and let their teams know the positive aspects of their efforts. Business levels are starting to return, and customer expectations about value and quality can never be ignored. Management needs to focus on developing effective communication, retention and reward strategies that will make employees feel better about themselves, their jobs and the levels of commitment they’ve been asked to make.

And lastly, the worry about increased union activity spawned by the national debate over the Employee Free Choice Act has heightened concerns that disaffected employees may be more susceptible to organizing activity than at any time in the recent past. Management needs to recognize that the challenge won’t be from unions so much as from the disaffection fostered by potentially unwise employee relations’ policies and practices. They need to listen to customers and employees, find ways to work smarter, make sure everyone is working together, and build teamwork.

These are challenging times; the companies that survive this downturn successfully will be those that address these issues appropriately. Hospitality companies today must be sensitive to these issues, realistic in their business planning, creative in their approach to business development, open with their communications and optimistic about the future. The hospitality industry in San Diego is all about promoting our region and the economic rebound that is coming soon. There is no lack of enthusiasm among these professionals.

Written by Arte Nathan with Strategic Development Worldwide.

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