Covid-19 has seen hospitality diversify their offerings to include meal boxes, takeaway services and safe workspaces.  With the need to quickly think differently, teams have come up with innovative new offerings and smarter way of doing things that may last well beyond the pandemic and disrupt the industry.

When innovation is done as a result of a crisis such as Covid-19, 9/11 or the financial crisis, the process to market needs to be short; limited data is available, funds are reallocated and ideas are tested in market, adapted and launched.  Those organisations that already had a culture of innovation may well find it easier than others and, if you haven’t already, looking at how creative ideas are shared in your company or hotel is worth considering.

As a marketer, you are already a creative and an original thinker so what can you do to encourage innovation as a competency in your hotel?

In ‘normal’ times, innovation needs to be given the time and space within an organisation to grow.  It means having it on meeting agendas, looking beyond the here and now and taking time to consider the potential opportunities that the market is providing.  This should not be a once a year review of your market forces during planning season!

As a leader it is about creating space when people can share ideas and building excitement in others to innovate.  Great ideas will come from having a diverse range of people involved.  This collaborative approach can be hard if you are a strong problem solver, so it is worth thinking about your role as a leader and developing your own competency for cultivating innovation, a core competency for a leader. As Steve Lowy said in his HMA article Leading through Covidleading in a way that allowed them [his team] to be free to innovate and develop ideas’.

Getting Creative

Innovation does not have to result in a major new product, service or technology, consider how updating your processes may have a dramatic change to your bottom line.

  • Question how things have been done before.
  • When setting goals and targets, give your team the autonomy to be creative as to how they can be delivered.
  • Look at the skills within your team
  • Who is good at researching trends, market analysis and charting processes?
  • Do you have an influencer that bring others on board to new ideas?
  • Who will be responsible for execution? Ideas are great however they need to be tested, re-developed, communicated and launched.
  • Who will ensure you are on budget and on time?
  • Do you have a cheerleader? Many projects lose momentum so consider who has the skill of motivating the team.

Whether it is a yes or a no to the above, consider your team dynamics as it relates to encouraging ‘outside the box’ thinking.

  • Consider putting together a cross functional project team to solve large challenges you may have and to take advantage of the opportunities the market presents.
  • Ensure it has a clear project lead that keeps the team focussed. And understand that may not be you!
  • Ensure you have diversity within the group and your target market (or future customer) has a voice.
  • Don’t make the team too big however, this tends to slow progress.
  • Facilitate brainstorm sessions with your customers, suppliers and partners. They see your organisation in a very different way to you and will bring great insight on your products and services of the future.
  • With new hires, add innovation as a competency on your job specification and/or questioning for interviews.
  • Be prepared to fail. Being prepared to get it wrong is another competency that is good to develop especially when thinking about groundbreaking approaches.  So much has been written on this (light bulbs etc) and the bottom line is that you learn from the missteps.  Of course, look to reduce your risk through thorough analysis and testing of any new idea or concept and agree with the team when it’s time to pull the plug, if necessary.  The important question to ask is what did we learn that can move us forward?
  • Consider the environment. It needs to be on your agenda.

To cultivate your own skills around innovation, consider how you can take the lead in developing a culture of innovation within your organisation or hotel.

Andrea McKay, Coaching Confidential, is an Executive Coach for hospitality professionals and worked as a hotel marketer for over 25 years.  She is a member of the HMA committee.



Copyright Andrea McKay 2021.  All rights reserved.