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Principles of Success:

Fine tuning Your Hospitality Business Strategies for A Measurable Competitive Advantage - Part 1

by Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS
March 22, 2011

Last week, I addressed the need of evaluating your hospitality business strategies to outpace your competition.  This article was very well read and generated reader inquiries seeking specific action steps.

As I wrote in that earlier article, I regularly observe that many individuals and groups tend to look everywhere but at their own business practices when trying to gain market share.  They do not reassess their marketing or changes in their environment but either hope or expect that their brand or CVB will come to the rescue.

In my consulting and management assignments, I have consistently found that the  solutions in becoming and remaining a market leader means offering measurable competitive advantages over your competition yourself and not relying on others.

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

 John Wooden

 For example, I had a phone call from a general manager recently.  She did not want to identify herself or her property, but was reaching out for some ideas after reading a number of my columns over the years. I try to help when I get calls like this, as I could sense her incredible frustration.  This GM  explained her general geographic location, the size and general description of her independent hotel and her competition.

With a few additional questions, I was able to determine:
  • the owner of the hotel never shared any operational financial results with her.
  • the owner's other hotel in a nearby town (which was branded) operated at a lower occupancy than the caller's property, but this manager was consistently criticized for her results.  Now I do not know the details of this particular caller, but I do know from my 35 years in the industry that far too many managers are left in the dark.  I also have found that many owners that act this way wonder why things do not improve or why they have a high turnover in managers and staff.

Owners have the financial obligation for their hotel overall, but if they expect things to be able to improve that these owners must modify some of their practices if they want their hotel to move forward.

In every economy and location, there are market leaders and laggers.  Here are some action steps to assist in becoming a market leader:

1. Evaluate the financials in a dramatically different fashion than you do now.
  • Each month, the income statement should be compared to budget for last month. To many readers, this is done now but to many others it is not and should be.
  • After the comparisons are made in a formal meeting, variations should be noted and action steps noted in writing to continue the positive and correct the negative.  This written documentation builds a road map to improvement and  strengthens relationships.
  • After the monthly review, prepare an occupancy forecast for the next year for the month just completed.  You will remember the specifics of holidays, special events and other factors very clearly now and you can easily update this draft when creating the annual budget.
  • Quarterly, review the cumulative financial results and discuss them openly.  Look at the balance of the year's budget and ascertain how the numbers were created and how realistic they are.  Are they still reasonable?  Has the market shown tremendous growth or has a major client relocated?  Ignoring the facts do not mean they will be addressed.
2. Make your marketing plan a living document NOW.
  • Many branded and independent hotels create annual marketing plans and some of them are outstanding.  Many of them are "worked" the first month, or until the advertising orders are placed for the year.   The next time many of them are really looked at occurs when next year's plan needs to be submitted or if there is a change of sales staff. 
  • Living marketing plans need to be just that - ALIVE! As with the financials, there needs to be monthly and quarterly reviews and updates
  • These updates should include numbers of calls, booking pace, reviews of booking sources, social media results, review of all sales and marketing activities, results from brand affiliations and many more specific items that are part of the plan.
In part 2 of this topic, I will offer some specific ideas on ways to identify specific markets and provide a competitive advantage requires that meet the needs of those particular target audience with distinctly defined requirements.

In the meantime, what are you doing to be the BEST in your market?

Hospitality Tip of the Week®: 

“Every professional – doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors, etc – asks lots of questions. It is called the Socratic method of leading people to decisions.  When the client has answered their own questions, they are usually convinced of the merits of your offer and persuaded to  take action.”     Zig Ziglar

10 Hotel Mistakes to Avoid in Selling- Making Hospitality More Profitable 

Part of the 2011 Keys To Success Workshop Series

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my 2011 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS, Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success

Feel free to share an idea for a column at [email protected]  anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

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.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium ( of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today. is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. Individuals wishing to contribute materials may send them [email protected].   Special pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.


Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE
[email protected]

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Also See: Hotels Were More Interesting than Selling Insurance: An Unexpected Career; A Professional and Personal Tribute to Neil Salerno, CHME CHA / Dr. John Hogan and Howard Feiertag / March 2011

Principles of Success: Evaluate Your Hospitality Business Strategies to Create a Real and Measurable Competitive Advantage / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Sales Blitzes: A Look At the Benefits of Team Efforts / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Principles for Success: No Nonsense Benchmarking for Hotels and Hospitality Businesses / Dr. John Hogan / March 2011

Principles for Success: What we have here is a FAILURE to COMMUNICATE! / Dr. John Hogan / February 2011

Making This New Year's Hospitality Resolutions Last - Part 3; Real and Practical Action Steps #13-28 / Dr. John Hogan / February 2011

Making This New Year's Hospitality Resolutions: Real and Practical - Sales Action Steps #1-12 / Dr. John Hogan / January 2011

Making New Year's Hospitality Resolutions Real and Practical; A “Fresh Air- New Ideas” Perspective / Dr. John Hogan / January 2011

Keys to Success: Be Aware of and Work with the Law; Do Not be Afraid of it / Dr. John Hogan / December 2010

Keys to Success: Make Your Hotel More Profitable and Successful – 2011 is the critical time to invest in Your Talent and Your Team / Dr. John Hogan / December 2010

Keys to Success: A Common Sense Approach to Success in the Hospitality Industry; 13 Best Practices for Hospitality Training Managers & Directors / Dr. John Hogan / December 2010

Hospitality Conversations – Looking Ahead! / Dr. John Hogan / November 2010

Learning from The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century / Dr. John Hogan / November 2010

Five Considerations in Hiring a Hospitality Consultant; Understanding the Qualifications for Effective Hospitality Consultants / Dr. John Hogan / November 2010

5 Reasons Using A Qualified Consultant Could Make a Huge Difference in Your Hospitality Business / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Half Luck and Half Brains - Kemmons Wilson's 20 Steps for Success / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Ten Quotes Addressing the Topic of SERVICE / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Hospitality Conversations - Understanding the Developing Perspectives in Quality Assurance (Part 2 of 2) / Dr John Hogan / October 2010

Hospitality Conversations – Understanding the Developing Perspectives in Quality Assurance Part 1 of 2 / Dr John Hogan

Hospitality Conversations: Examining the Learning Options Available in the Hospitality Field / Dr John Hogan / July 2010
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