Industry Update
Opinion Article12 August 2020

It’s Time for the Hospitality Industry to Build Back Better

By Brendan Griffith, Senior Vice President and Milwaukee General Manager, Reputation Partners

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Over the last several months, the hospitality industry has experienced the ongoing, negative impact of COVID-19. It has often felt as if someone pushed 'pause' on our day-to-day lives and businesses. Yet amidst the turbulence, there has never been a more unique time to hit the 'reset' button as a company and an industry.

As we begin to recover, every leader in hospitality has a tremendous opportunity - even a responsibility - to explore all areas where they can build back their organization in a better way. Whether it be making positive changes for your people, the environment or within your respective communities, being able to demonstrate and communicate concrete, tangible actions with your key audiences will undoubtedly redefine and differentiate your brand.

The first step is to reflect and ask yourself the following:

  1. What is our mission as a company? Are our values and priorities aligned with this mission?
  2. Are we practicing mindful recruiting of prospective employees that is in line with our company's existing values and future goals?
  3. If our people (employees) are our most important asset, how are we supporting them to our fullest ability? How are they feeling during this time? What are their priorities, and how can we ensure in the long-term that their needs are achieved? Have we provided effective communication and feedback outlets?
  4. More and more every year, the hospitality industry is making dramatic changes to become more sustainable. If you have not already, what are some sustainability measures that can both support your bottom-line and the environment?
  5. How are our customers feeling at this time? Is there a way that we can provide a better experience for them with our services?

Even as you are asking these questions and reflecting on the answers, communications best practices come into play. This may be the opportune time to survey employees or customers about their opinions and values - showing that company leaders value this insight and will take the necessary steps to use these insights as directives for action. Or, consider writing a letter to employees and stakeholders communicating that leadership and the organization is undergoing this important work. Remember that transparency is a key rule of successful communication.

As you gather responses and determine next steps, it will be equally important to maintain ongoing communication with key audiences to your business - employees, shareholders, customers, vendors and the communities in which your businesses serve. Organizations will make varying decisions depending on the resulting operational changes. Options could include:

  • Videos from senior leadership discussing the values of the organization and any resulting change
  • Thought leadership campaign where senior leaders speak with community or industry organizations, media, etc. to bring awareness or action to changes made
  • Ongoing stakeholder letters providing clarity and transparency
  • Regular town hall meetings with employees to communicate changes and continue to hear feedback
  • Social media campaign to engage customers and the community in any resulting decisions
  • Community impact reporting outlining the positive changes and efforts made by your business throughout these difficult times

It is the opportune time to be the company that successfully adopts a 'build back better' mindset. Do not let these important decisions and actions go unnoticed, though. By effectively communicating with key audiences, you can work to build trust and a sense of togetherness - two values that are held with the highest regard in the hospitality industry, and also two that we certainly need more of in these times.

Brendan Griffith

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