People - Your Best Insurance

By Rob Rush CEO, LRA Worldwide | January 29, 2012

There was a time not so long ago when the DJIA was relentlessly climbing and every development deal was a good one, that a hotelier would have to engage in the old Cold War strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) to compete. Just as the US and USSR stockpiled nuclear weapons to ensure they could destroy one another 57 times over, so did the aggressive hotelier equip his property with the latest and greatest in design, FF&E and amenities to keep up with the Joneses (or the Schragers).

In a booming economy, one purchased customer retention insurance with a healthy line of credit, an iPod docking alarm clock and a hot design team. This form of customer retention insurance was very tangible, very costly and, ironically, very easy to match. Unlike the countless missile silos designed to blend into cornfields in Iowa and mountain ranges in Utah, these flourishes were put in place to attract attention and stick out. And if a competitor wanted to match 'em, they just had to take a look and pony up the dough.

With healthy lines of credit few and far between in the current economic climate, the customer retention insurance policy du jour has become a good deal less flamboyant but ultimately more difficult to duplicate. The currency required to purchase this insurance isn't dollars, euros or yen. It's flesh and blood.

Recession or bull market, boom or bust, people are always your best insurance policy against economic conditions, flat screen TVs or whatever other flavor of the month emerges designed to provide a short-term advantage. An investment in people pays off in ways that are imperceptible in a typical ROI calculation, imbuing your workforce with a sense of ownership and commitment that will make a difference when resources are scarce. (When's the last time a buckwheat pillow gave an extra effort?)

The underwriting process for this insurance policy doesn't involve an actuarial table or a medical exam, but a few key strategies for making your workforce your first line of defense against a receding customer base.

It's simple. Shower them with cash. (Joking...)

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.