Running a hotel is a non-stop operation. With no down time there is very little opportunity to take a step back to look at how things are working and to look for ways to improve and to innovate.

So when a global pandemic hits leaving hotels empty, isn’t that the perfect time to think about innovation?

Here are five reasons why innovation is important and how you can achieve it even when times are hard.


Innovation is not a destination

It’s important to remember that innovation is an ongoing process that should never end. It does not have a finish line and you should always be looking for the next way to improve your business.

The word ‘innovation’ comes from the Latin ‘novus’ which means ‘new’. But innovation doesn’t necessarily mean new to the market, it can mean simply ‘new to you’. So check out what others are doing in different countries and/or markets and ask yourself, ‘How could that work for me?’


Map the guest journey

Any business is nothing without clients and it’s not good enough just to be customer-focused, we have to be customer-centric by putting the customer at the centre of everything we do.

So you should look at all the interactions your guests have with your business, both digital and physical. Why do they happen? Do your customers have to repeat themselves? What would the ideal process look like for your guests? How can you make the interactions better for THEM?



Identify the benefits

There is a relationship triangle between your customers, your employees and the business. Each of these will be affected by any innovation, and the benefits and changes for each should be identified. It may help you to draw some triangles, label each of the corners accordingly and simply put marks within the triangle where you think the innovation lives. If you are planning several innovations, this may help you prioritise the right ones.

Whatever you do, you must involve your employees and your clients in the process. If you empower your staff and your guests, they will thank you for it with more productivity and increased spend respectively.


Expand existing systems

Most technology solutions employed by a business tend to live in isolation with little sharing of information between them. So look at what you already have, and improve it. 

Could information from one system make another one better? Could information from the PMS help improve the guest experience? Could you use the RFID keycards to pay for drinks? Or to sign in to breakfast? If you amalgamate your data, could it create business intelligence and real insights?

And don’t just think technology is the only way to innovate. Sometimes the best innovation might be a change to the physical layout, or a new way to greet guests.



The innovation culture

We have seen that innovation is an ongoing process, and although it is not possible to know exactly what changes you will want to make in the future, there are ways to make them easier to implement.

Take the opportunity to talk to as many suppliers as you can. Find out what they do and what drives them to do it.

Involve your whole team as the best ideas can often come from unexpected places; if your staff are part of the process, they will be more likely to embrace and react positively to the changes it brings.

In short, be prepared to challenge and question the way you and your business actually does business – that is the way to an innovative culture.

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