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It's the Size of Your Idea, Not the Size of Your Budget

by Dr. John Hogan, May 7, 2010

Each year, I focus on creating new and updated learning experiences, whether it is in my columns, an academic or business classroom setting, an online seminar or a consulting assignment.  The title of this column also represents a new 2010 workshop as well, and it addresses a fundamental approach to achieving success.

I have discovered in my career that too many people often create hotel-operating budgets to spend the amount of money available.  Rather than focusing attention on ways to accomplish the desired outcome or goal, they create a document and a plan they hope or expect will win the approval of the owner or Management Company.

Why do people so often take this approach?   I suspect it is due to a fear of failure, of not wanting to be too creative or to simply go with the easiest approach.  Zero-based budgeting did not find acceptance when proposed on the federal government level in the late 1970s in the US, because too many people had multiple levels of comfort zones and did not want to think differently.  The approach does not work in many business environments for some of the same reasons, or because some people honestly do not know the real cost of doing business and so continue to build on last year’s numbers.

Why do people fail or fear failure?  There are half a dozen potential reasons, including:

1.   A lack of persistence
A large number of people fail, not because they lack knowledge or talent but because they quit.  A major secret of success lies in the word persistence.  It means doing what needs to be done and recognizing at the same time to remain focused

Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President in a very strong economic period, is often quoted with the following 

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

When problems seem overwhelming, giving up seems to be the easiest way out.

Winners stumble, but they do not stay down.  Conrad Hilton, Kemmons Wilson, Howard Johnson, Ellsworth Statler, Donald Trump, Cecil Day,  Lord Charles Forte, Curt Carlson, Sol Kernzer, Ernest Henderson, the Marriotts and many others have all had serious financial business setbacks in life. Failing does not mean we are failures, but rather that we recognize the need to keep our focus when we hit the inevitable rough spot.  
2. Lack of Conviction
People who lack conviction take the middle of the road; and guess what happens in the middle of the road?  You are run over.
They conform in order to gain acceptance, even when they know that path is the wrong one. They behave like part of a herd.  We should remember the lesson of the North American bison that were regularly run to their demise, thinking they would have safety in numbers.
3. Rationalization
Winners regularly analyze,  but they seldom rationalize. Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inns, often said one could work half a day and be successful.  He would follow the comment, saying it could be the first or second twelve hours of the day – it didn’t matter.
Two of the saddest words in the English language are part of rationalization : “If only”
  • “If only” I were ten years older (or younger), I could have gotten that loan
  • “If only” I had been able to go that hotel school
  • “If only” my family had been in the industry
  • “If only” I had not done this or that
  • “If only” I had done this or that
  • “If only” I had more contacts on the East Coast (or West Coast)
  • “If only”  I had the opportunity to…………….
4. Not Learning from Past Mistakes
Someone can be in the hospitality industry for 25 or 45 years.  If they are the kind of people who live and learn, they will prosper.  If they do the same things for those 25 or 45 years, they will only survive.   It is not easy to accept making mistakes, but perceptive people will learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes.
Failure is a by-pass or detour, not a dead end.  It is a delay, but not a defeat. Experience is the name we give to our mistakes
5. Lack of Discipline
The word discipline is often misunderstood.  It evolved from the word “disciple”, meaning believer. Anyone who has accomplished anything worthwhile has never done so without discipline.  Zig Ziglar, a speaker I have heard several times , is one of the best-known sales professionals and authors in any industry and he used to say,  “ It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us to action, but it was discipline that enabled us to follow through.”  
Discipline requires self-control, sacrifice, avoiding distractions and staying focused. Niagara Falls would not generate power unless it was harnessed.

6.  A lack of positive self-esteem  or defeatist approach
Negative self-esteem is a lack of self-respect and self-worth, and has likely affected most of us at one point in our lives.   It can lead to neglect of our talent or to making excuses.   A defeatist approach prevents people from accepting responsibility for their situation or to a false sense of entitlement in life.
Fundamental Keys to Success in  Hospitality
I have found that there are four fundamentals in successfully operating hotels. They are intertwined and dependent on each other.  Specifically, the first three properly delivered result in the fourth:
  1. Hotel Marketing
  2. Hotel Operations
  3. Hotel Service and
  4. Hotel Profitability
Delivering effective marketing, efficient operations and exceptional service will lead to extraordinary profitability over an extended period. 
Considering numerous ways to encourage hotel staff to think "inside and outside of the box" will lead to implementing ways to improve both financial results and delivery of quality service.

The value of the “Size of the Idea” has been proven in a wide range of successful groups, including the Opryland Hotel (now Gaylord), Kimpton (Boutique) Hotels, Taj Hotels, Four Seasons, Loews Hotels, Disney Hotels and hospitality groups, Sonesta Hotels, the rebirth of Ritz-Carlton (and then to West Paces group), the former Trust House Forte group, AAHOA and many others.
Few of these ”ideas” had big “budgets” in the early years, but they focused on the goal to achieve those successes.

Workshop Key Agenda Points and Learning Results
  • Recognizing the Economy is a Temporary Environment in Hospitality
  • Why We Fail and What To Do About It – Hospitality Industry Insights, as well as thoughts  from Forbes to Gandhi
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do”
What is the size of your IDEA  today?

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:

  Use on-job-training actual examples and case studies in training classes of both successful and poor examples of service to guests.   Have different staff share these examples.

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my new 2010 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings will focus on a wide variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles and HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS. My segments Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success will be featured at appropriate times in the year as well.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements …………. 

And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES are available 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 is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE

Also See: How to Keep the PASSION in Your Career / Dr John Hogan / April 2010

When Your Hotel Becomes the News! Effectively Interacting with the Media / Dr John Hogan / April 2010

An Open Letter to Hospitality Students in their Junior Year / John Hogan / April 2010

Where Is Your Desk? - In the Lobby… Where it's Been Since 1991 / John Hogan & Richard Harris / March 2010

Keys to Success - A Fresh Look at the 4 Ps of Marketing or An Unlikely Salute to Collin Raye / Dr John Hogan / March 2010

Hospitality Conversations: Property Improvement Plans or PIPS / Dr John Hogan / March 2010

Managing the Intricate Challenge of Today's Hospitality Leadership / Dr John Hogan / March 2010

Hospitality Conversations: Selling Your Hotel In a Sluggish Economy / Dr. John Hogan / February 2010

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