Industry Update
Opinion Article16 October 2015

Why The Hospitality And Travel Industry Has Finally Warmed To Short-term / Interim Management Too

By Petra Deuter, Executive Director, Iconic Luxury Hotels- International & Head of Talent Development, L+R Hotels

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The last few years have seen a significant change of outlook within the hospitality, travel and tourism industry. Theres a new solution attracting enthusiastic support from businesses looking to progress: outsourcing to short-term, interim management.

We may wonder why hospitality and travel companies have only recently turned to a practice widely adopted by other industries for decades. It could be the belief that no one knows our business like we do. This has been disproved emphatically by companies that have embraced the concept of interim management, and realized its benefits i.e. flexible employment, immediate a vailability of seasoned and progressive experts, etc.

When a market undergoes rapid and fundamental change, as weve seen in hospitality and travel, the companies that survive and thrive are those that change with it. Their ability to adapt depends on the competency of their management team. However, they may be lacking people with the skills, vision and experience required to deal with new circumstances. In these instances, it makes sense to bring in a suitably talented interim manager to instigate and champion the transformation.

Can you trust an interim manager?
An increasing number of highly successful and respected hospitality and travel executives are now making the career move to become interim managers. They relish the opportunity to prove their abilities and create a reputation that directly reflects what they achieve for their clients. Being continually involved in new challenges means they are always abreast of new customer and industry trends and technology developments. And as independents, they bring an unbiased perspective free of preconceptions, allowing them to make realistic assessments and propose achievable targets.

An interim manager may be hired when a company is in crisis, and their objective approach is invaluable for turning the business around. They may be brought in for more prosaic reasons, such as bridging a temporary skills gap or management capacity shortage. Yet often an interim manager is most valuable when tasked with implementing a major initiative: a product or property launch, relocation, branding or rebranding, complete change in direction.

Making a business fit for the future
My own recent assignments include new brand creation, sales and marketing strategy setting, and leading the operational implementation as well as the opening of extensive new hospitality facilities at an Italian wine estate; leading change management by rebranding, repositioning, restructuring and refurbishing and hence enhancing revenue streams at a large integrated golf resort in Spain; and assisting with market entry analysis and business development of a European river cruise firm in the Americas, enlarging their feeder markets and ensuring competitive advantage.

In these instances, as an interim manager I was able to complement the skills of the existing owners and management team with my specialist hospitality experience and reach. By leaving their managers free to focus on their daily tasks, I could achieve the start-ups and change objectives with the minimum of disruption to the business. Then, through team coaching and a structured management handover, I left the business equipped to sustain its newfound success.

Its outcomes such as these that have seen industries in nearly all market sectors embrace the concept of the experienced interim manager, valuing and relying on their independence, knowledge and interpersonal skills. Now the most progressive businesses in the hospitality and travel market are showing that they appreciate the advantages too.

Petra Deuter

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