Running Dry on Good Hotel Ideas? It's not What You Know - It's Who You Know - By Neil Salerno

Last weekend, I had a visit from a thirty-year friend, mentor, my wedding's 'best man', former boss, and former peer. All this wrapped up in one man, Howard Feiertag.

HTrends It's always great to see someone who has been so significant in your life, but it also made me reflect on how many times Howard has steered me through the bumpy maze of highs and lows of the hotel business.

I am truly blessed that there have been, and still are, several experienced hotel people, like Howard, who have shared their ideas and encouragement with me through the last thirty years. They all made me look smarter than I really am; and for that, I am truly grateful.

Thinking Outside-the-Box

Is there a better way to think outside the corporate or hotel box than to consult with someone who resides outside it? If you don't have a group of hotel friends and/or associates who can and will give you an educated and objective viewpoint, set out right now to develop them. There are no new ideas; only old ideas which were implemented successfully. To repeat them is not bad; to ignore them is.

We have all sat in what felt like fruitless meetings to uncover and discuss ideas to promote and/or better operate our hotels. The various paradigms developed from being deeply involved in a hotel are sometimes serious handicaps to clear and independent thinking. Handicaps are developed by self-imposed boundaries based on habit and policies. If you are seeking new ideas, be prepared to open your mind; you might not get the answers you expected.

Successful people are those who can find an answer or that different perspective they need in order to gain an edge in the marketplace. Often an exchange of ideas from someone outside the line of fire is free from the nemesis of insider influence; not affected, or worse, infected by politics or 'company policy'.

Developing Your Personal Advisory Board

Former work associates are usually a great source of candidates for your advisory board. People you worked with or former associates who worked for you in the past, will often feel free to offer that perspective they never would have shared before; someone you trusted and respected. They can provide the added bonus of being familiar with you and your operation.

Become a voracious reader. Oh, I know you don't have time to read articles, but busy people find the time to do the things which will make them successful. Reading various perspectives on the industry stimulates your thinking and can reveal different paradigms or viewpoints.

Many of the authors of those articles would be happy to hear your questions. In a sense, simply reading a different viewpoint is the first step in developing a mentor relationship. It doesn't matter whether or not you agree with some else's viewpoint; learn from every idea. My favorite saying is 'Be who you are and say what you feel; for those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind'.

Develop Some Synergy

It's always a good idea to identify the hotel super stars in your area. Once identified, set out to create some new friendships. It doesn't matter if they are part of your competition, you can learn from them and they will also learn from you. You cannot discuss rate issues; that's against anti-trust, but operational and sales issues are still on the table.

Synergy is defined as 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts'. In plain talk, it's the fact that your ideas, combined with another's ideas, create a third and greater sum of ideas.

No one has all the answers to this crazy business of ours; our industry is changing and evolving rapidly. You don't have to operate in a vacuum or within the overall structure of your company or franchise. Get advice and counseling from outside-the-box which was created by your organization; it can benefit you and your company.

Neil Salerno, C.H.M.E., C.H.A.
The Hotel Marketing Coach

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