In most parts of the world hospitality businesses are about to clock up a year of being in crisis mode and every one of those 12 months has felt like a 3-minute round facing Mike Tyson. We have reached however the phase of recovery. With a vaccine roll-out well underway, the hospitality industry can now see a light at the end of the tunnel. Businesses are now faced with determining which combination of hooks and uppercuts will best lead them out of crisis. How will our business be relevant for the ‘new normal’? How do we future proof ourselves against future crises? How do we renew our company’s offering, our purpose? What have we learned, what good things have emerged from crisis? Who is still on board the bus, who needs to get off, who do we need to bring on?
One thing is certain – any hospitality business expecting to emerge from Covid-19 operating and behaving in exactly the same way as pre-crisis is doomed to failure. No matter how large the cash reserves a company may have, or how fantastic a product it has with a fully retained team, there are simply too many economic and marketplace variables for things to have remained the same. How businesses respond in the next eighteen months may determine their long-term relevance.
At HoCoSo we have identified five key areas that are top of mind for hospitality operators, owners and stakeholders as they look to position themselves for strong recovery. Chris Mumford, Head of Leadership services at HoCoSo uncovers the importance of Leadership and Organisation.
The leadership skills that got companies through the emergency and regression phases of the Covid crisis are not necessarily well-suited to the recovery phase. The micro-management, speed of reaction and obsessiveness that was needed to prevent the ship going down can be obstructive to getting the boat back up to full power. Similarly, leadership cannot afford to sit back and check out altogether but needs to remain giving clear direction and oversight from the helm.
Leaders face a new balancing act of trying to bring normalcy back to their businesses while maintaining the focus on renewal and the way forward. This takes energy and deep resilience. Leaders need to take care of themselves in order to take care of others. The risk of burnout and fatigue is high and leaders need to be driving a corporate culture that supports employee wellbeing as well as one that accounts for the new realities of remote working. While communication skills have always been a core component of good leadership the pressure on leaders today to engage their employees in a meaningful way, often through virtual means, is even greater.
Boards and leadership therefore need to be assessing their management teams and reviewing if they have the right people in the right places. Hospitality leaders today need to be able to demonstrate:
- an ability to handle uncertainty and change;
- a progressive mindset that pursues innovation;
- an understanding of how their business relates to, and can interact with, the community and neighbourhood;
- an ability to inspire and motivate, often from a distance, as well as to maintain positive relationships with multiple stakeholders;
- strong commercial acumen combined with a laser focus on customer experience and engagement.
The social component of ESG is also coming under sharper focus and companies will need to increasingly demonstrate how they are serving, not only their internal constituents, but also the broader community. What role does the company play in society at large? Does it have a purpose beyond corporate profits? How well is it promoting gender equality and progressing the diversity and inclusivity agenda?
Hospitality businesses will emerge from the pandemic leaner and more agile than pre-crisis. As recovery gets underway, some organisational headcount may be added back in, as companies staff back up in certain areas. Every hire, however, will be carefully considered and weighed up as companies question if there is an alternative, less traditional, way to get the same result. Our expectation is that we will not see a return to the former levels of employee overhead as businesses leverage the gig economy for outsourced contract workers, as well as increasingly implement tech-enabled efficiencies that allow for more streamlined operations.
Chris Mumford is Head of Leadership Services at HoCoSo
He heads HoCoSo’s Leadership Services practice providing bespoke talent solutions that support clients‘ strategic purpose and direction.
Chris goes by the principle that nothing impacts a company’s performance more than its people and his focus is on ensuring that businesses have the best leadership in the right roles. He is a promoter of hospitality as a career choice and an active advocate for greater diversity in the workplace. He is co-founder of the Hospitality Resilience Series and often writes about human capital issues and solutions for the hospitality industry.
The future for hospitality, after a year of darkness, is beginning to look more hopeful. However, in order to be able to stand with hands aloft in victory, once the bell sounds at the end of the twelfth round, businesses still have a hard road ahead. We would do well to heed Winston Churchill’s advice to “never waste a good crisis.” Consumer habits will dictate the rise of new concepts, products and experiences; investor sentiment will drive more purpose-led growth strategies; technology will enable and encourage greater productivity, consumer experience and profitability; operations will be run more efficiently and by a multi-skilled workforce; organisations will be leaner and fitter and will be led by leaders who demonstrate a more inclusive and empathetic leadership style combined with an ability to flex and shift at short notice. Those that ultimately emerge victorious will be those who put every part of their business under the microscope and look at how to best reinvent, innovate and improve themselves, in order to retain a meaningful customer proposition and competitive edge.
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HoCoSo are advisors with a difference.
We create tailor-made and innovative solutions for clients’ hospitality-led projects by bringing together the optimum team of sector specialists.
Jonathan Humphries, Chairman and Owner of HoCoSo, and his direct team specialize in the extended-stay, co-living, and hotel-alternatives hospitality market; luxury, lifestyle and boutique hotels; and resort developments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Our strengths lie in the following core services:
- Product & Concept Creation, for portfolio & individual asset developments.
- Strategic Development Projects with a focus on new-market / new-concept business expansion planning, operator selection, market and financial feasibility studies.
- Transformative Asset Management for brand re-positioning, asset re-evaluation and concept re-structuring.
- Hospitality Education for companies and academic institutions, with a focus on bespoke course development, training and teaching.
- Workshops, Keynotes and Conference Moderating for boards, leading international conferences and incubators.
During the covid19 crisis, HoCoSo launched HoCoSo CONNECT, an initiative aimed at bringing the industry together to brainstorm and collaborate; HoCoSo CONVERSATION, a podcast channel encouraging the discussion with thought leaders from around the globe, for the hospitality industry; and, in collaboration with Atlas Coaching and Cervus Leadership Consulting, we also launched the Hospitality Resilience Series , a combination of online events, insights and discussions aimed at helping build your personal resilience and inner immunity.