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Lessons from the Field
A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry
By Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, April 1,2009

A Different Appraisal of Our Biggest Challenges in 2009


By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS 
April 1, 2009 

The current economic dilemma facing many hotels globally is attributable to many factors. The lack of credit availability, uncertainty on employment and general caution by consumers and companies alike are eroding occupancies and revenues in many lodging establishments.

This fiscal crisis is hardly new to the hospitality and tourism industries.  In my business career, I can identify at least six major economic downturns that have included energy shortages, high rates of inflation, insolvent financial institutions that lent too much with no or little equity, and negative general global cycles.

Without a doubt, the concern about credit, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the business roller coaster rides in the global stock markets are very real.  By that same analysis, hotel owners and managers cannot immediately affect those stock variations or political decisions but they can make the difference in strengthening the core of their individual businesses. 

For many hotels, that means a change in operational practice – it means embracing the spirit and results of empowerment.  What does that word really mean? 

Empowerment – if one looks in a typical thesaurus, the word does not show any similarities or results.   Does this mean that empowerment is going to provide more work or more results? 

The online Encarta Dictionary shows some verbs alluding to “giving authority to somebody” or to give somebody power or authority.  This definition indicates it is often a passive action.

A second definition is “to make more confident or assertive” or to give somebody a greater sense of confidence or self-esteem.     By contrast, this second definition appears to be more action oriented but the reality is that is still means extending that sense of trust and belief in others.

“Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment
is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company
can drive in order to lure and keep customers.”
John Tschoh, founder and president of Service Quality Institute

Empowerment in the world of hospitality means that staff members at the front line (and hopefully everywhere) have been trained to more clearly understand the reality of the business, and the value of each customer.  

With that training, the staff then can accept and want more authority, which helps everyone to help achieve the hotel’s goals.  Owners and senior managers now share those goals with more than the executive team. Everyone can be enthusiastic about the hotel’s reputation, profitability and the staff is more motivated to take the initiative to deliver that one extra step.

Both personally and as an educator, I have come to recognize we all learn in different ways.  With that in mind, I am recommending two short books as suggested reading for managers who are looking to expand the quality and service delivery of their hotels.

The first is a sequel by Ken Blanchard, John Carlos, and Alan Randolph.  

Blanchard (of the One Minute Manager series fame) excels at focused, short scenarios that are easy to follow with detailed, hands-on answers to real-world questions about how to can navigate the journey to empowerment. The book promotional verbiage explains n how the process requires ongoing effort, awareness, and commitment to transforming the hierarchy.   This is written in a Q&A format and expands on the previous book “Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute”

The second book is an amusing one that is easy to read quickly but it does require some thought and reflection.   Written in the fable type scenario of "Who Moved My Cheese?”, it focuses on illustrating rather than telling how managers can develop their leadership skills in a matter of hours, rather than months. 

I borrowed this book from my library, but then went to for additional insights and ordering info.  There I found an excellent review of the book by John Chancellor of New Orleans that I feel is worth sharing:

“Squawk gives you three simple and easy to implement steps to becoming a more effective manager. The book presents these steps in a very engaging story form.  But first let's review some of the reasons you need to take Squawk seriously. 

  • Thirty-two percent of employees spend at lest twenty hours per month complaining about their bosses. (Probably a lot of those twenty hours are on company time). 
  • More than 66% of employees are actively considering leaving their current job. 
  • Employers suffer in excess of $360 billion in annual losses due to employee dissatisfaction. 
  • Most managers believe their focus should be in bringing in the numbers ... but most get fired  because of poor people skills. 
Travis Bradberry uses the seagull as a symbol for today's manager. All too often today's manager swoops in, fails to get complete details of what is happening, squawks up a storm, deposits/dumps on the workers and leaves a mess for others to clean up.  The seagull manager is showing up more and more in today's workplace. 

Bradberry gives three simple but effective techniques to shift the way you manage. 

  1. Set full-fledged expectations - make sure the employee's efforts are spent doing the right things the right way. Let them know what is expected and how they will be evaluated in the future. Be sure to get agreement and commitment to work toward established goals. 
  2. Communication that clicks. Too often managers do not communicate enough and only communicate when things go wrong. Observe what employees say, do, and speak openly with them about their work. Communication clicks when it is frequent and in a language everyone understands. 
  3. Paws on Performance - pay attention to each employee's performance - offer praise as often as constructive feedback. Keep your paws on performance.”
This article is titled A different appraisal of our biggest challenges in 2009.   
  • Are your challenges mainly in the global markets or has the delivery of service become tedious and dull to your guests and staff?
  • When was the last time you sat down and assessed the level of training and empowerment given to your front line?
  • How satisfied are your guests and staff?

Please share an idea for a column or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops or speaking engagements at anytime.   

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE and other industry sources. 

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.   The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication

John Hogan, a career hotelier and educator, is frequently invited to participate at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events.  He is a successful senior executive with a record of accomplishment in leading hospitality industry organizations at multiple levels, with demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor. He conducts mystery-shopping reviews of quality in operations and marketing, including repositioning of hotels.

He writes weekly columns for a number of global online services (hotel, eHotelier, 4 Hotels, Hotel Resource, etc) and has published more than 400 articles & columns on the hotel industry.  He co-authored (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from, ROOMS CHRONICLE  and other industry sources.  He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and expects to publish in 2009 his 2nd book based on his dissertation – The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

Hogan’s professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis, including service as Senior Vice President of Operations in a specialty hotel brand for six years.

He holds a number of industry certifications (CHA, CHE, MHS, ACI) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism, as well as operational and marketing awards from international brands.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor at three different colleges and universities over a 20-year period, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independent hotels.  He was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He joined Best Western International in spring of 2000, where over the next 8 years he created and developed a blended learning system as the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for the world’s largest hotel chain. 

He has served on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity and as brand liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his long-term involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.  He has conducted an estimated 3,200 workshops and classes in his career. 

Expertise and Research Interest
• Sales Management and training
• Turn-around and revenue management
• Professional Development & Customer Service 
• Hospitality Leadership and Executive Education
• Making Cultural Diversity Real
• Accreditation & Developing Academic Hospitality programs

Service to the Industry and Hospitality Education includes working with the Educational Institute Certification Commission of the AH&LA, the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration, the Commission for Accreditation on Hospitality Management Programs, the AH&LA and AAHOA Education and Training Committees, the Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Educators (CHRIE), the International Hotel Show and the Certified Hotel Owner program for the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE

Also See: Reflections: Mentors and Friends - Vermont Hoteliers Borden and Louise Avery and their Son Allen / Dr John Hogan / March 2009
Remember to Embrace the Essentials in Sales; Revenue and net profits can often depend on how one of the most fundamental practices in sales- how incoming phone calls are handled / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment; Working With Your Hotel Franchisor for Everyone’s Success / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment; Evaluating the franchise business model as a potential franchisee / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Getting the Most Out of Your Hotel Franchise Investment / Dr. John Hogan / Dr. John Hogan / March 2009
Four Steps: How to Make More Sales Calls than Any Other Way Or Trade Shows Can Be Invaluable If. . . / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
A Baker’s Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Chief Engineers / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
"A Baker's Dozen" of Strategies for Hotel  Banquet Managers / Dr. John Hogan / February 2009
Making New Year's Sales and Marketing Resolutions Real and Practical / Dr. John Hogan / January 2009
Planning in a Challenging Economy - Probing Hotel Expenses / Dr. John Hogan / December 2008
Planning in a Challenging Economy - Fundamentals of Hotel Sales Planning / Dr. John Hogan / December 2008
A Message for Hoteliers: Giving Thanks - and Not Just One Day Each Year! / Dr John Hogan / November 2008
Hoteliers Must Remember the Lessons of Reasonable Care! / John Hogan / November 2008
Enthusiastic and Sincere Attitudes Will Pay Off For Hotel Salespeople / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / November 2008
Unleash the Potential! Recognize the True Value of Your Front Line Sales People / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / November 2008
Defining Hospitality - Readers Respond with their Insights / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / October 2008
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Food and Beverage Directors / Hotel Common Sense / John Hoganv/ September 2008
My Definition of Hospitality. What’s Yours? / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
Principles for Success as a Hotel Manager: 6 Observations on Finding and Employing Problem Solvers / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Action Steps to Succeed in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / September 2008
10 Hotel Sales Mistakes to Avoid in Today’s Competitive Marketplace / Dr. John Hogan / August 2008
Ways to Identify and Build Repeat Guests / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Maintaining Relationships Throughout the Organization / Dr John Hogan / August 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part four: Communicating with Clarity and Candor / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part three: Using your management style effectively / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager - Part Two: Motivating the Team / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008
Principles for Success As a Hotel Manager Part One: Understanding the Organization / Dr. John Hogan / July 2008 
Updating Hotel Marketing and Sales Strategies Mid Year NOW Is Essential / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Don’t Underestimate the Impact of the Hotel Sales Office / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
Factors for Successful Interviewing Potential Hotel Sales Candidates / Dr. John Hogan / June 2008
The Importance of Meaningful Sales Team Job Descriptions / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
For Hotels with Limited Service, Fewer than 100 Rooms - How Do You Determine if You Need a Person Dedicated to Selling / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Extending Your Sales Team or Make Travel Agents A Regular Part of Your Sales Programs / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Finding Business Leads Can Be Easier Than You Think / Dr. John Hogan / May 2008
Understanding the Differences Between Marketing and Sales / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008
Identifying Your Customers / Lessons from the Field A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry / Dr. John Hogan / April 2008

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