Understanding the Resistance to Change Within the Hospitality Industry

By Sheetal Singh Alliance Partner, HVS Executive Search | March 24, 2019

This article was co-authored by Court Williams

Co-authored by Court Williams, CEO, HVS Executive Search

Frustrating, painful, draining, scary, exciting, unsettling, and exhausting are some of the words people, who are on the receiving side of change, use to describe their experience. It is a highly personal and emotional experience for most of us. Now imagine needing to serve guests cheerfully in a hospitality setting while you are experiencing these negative emotions. As a result, the toll change takes on hospitality professionals is greater than for most other industries.

It is, therefore, critical that we understand the resistance to change as well as, have a plan to convert the "resistance" to "commitment" towards change.

Hospitality is one of the oldest industries and yet, not much has changed with regards to how we serve our guests since the time of inn-keeping. Yet, we all acknowledge the need to innovate, evolve and respond to the changing guest tastes. Prolific brands, constantly changing technology, shifting guest service culture and evolving customer expectations, all require that we build a workforce that is accustomed to a culture of constant change and innovation.

David Garvin and Amy Edmondson would call such an organization, a learning organization. However, building such an organization requires that we build commitment to change into our DNA. This requires a deeper understanding of why people resist change.

The resistance to change may sometimes be passive, where individuals do not actively support change by procrastinating. As a result, slowing the change process and hoping the change effort fails. Active resistance on the other involves individuals being more vocal against change, as well as, involves individuals engaging in behaviors that are meant to derail the change process. Whether active or passive, according to Rick Maurer(the resistance to change usually stems from three top reasons-they don't get it, they don't like it or they don't like you)

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.