History is bound to repeat itself.
More and more, I see teenagers walking around in AC/DC, Nirvana, and Rolling Stones t-shirts. Mom jeans are back in style. My son knows more 70’s and 80’s classic rock songs than I do. Eggs were good for us, then they were bad for us, then it was just egg whites that were good for us, and now eggs are back in vogue. Muscle cars are more popular now than ever before, and automakers seem to be designing cars to look like the originals.
Who thought at the beginning of the year that Gen 1 Residence Inns would be the preferred hotel of choice due to their apartment-like accommodations, the lack of communal space, the ability to walk directly to your room from your car, and the ability to cook in a space that has a full kitchen? Many trends in the hotel industry were changed due to something beyond our control and completely unexpected.
It is yet to be seen if this shift in the hospitality industry is a temporary blip or an actual paradigm shift, but we keep hearing things referred to as the “New Normal,” and I am betting on this being a paradigm shift in the hotel industry, much like 9-11 changed the way we look at flying. Call it dumb luck, call it karma for having leadership that cares, or say that we were just smarter than most, but our strategy of purchasing Gen. 1 Residence Inns and other older extended stay properties has put us in a position to prosper, rebound quicker, or change strategies when others in the hospitality industry are forced to close shop.
George Santayana, a Spanish philosopher, said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We are in the middle of a time that will almost certainly be immortalized in the history books and when we reflect back on this time, I am confident we will speak of this pandemic like we do of 9-11, the Great Depression, or any other impactful historical event. Like each of those events, we can learn from and improve the way we conduct business as a result.
Here are some take-aways that have already emerged—and that we should continue to emphasize—moving forward:
- Efficiency is key to our success. We can do more with less. Unfortunately, many positions were lost because of COVID-19, but it taught us that we can be creative in cutting costs without sacrificing service.
- Do not cut the sales effort! At one of our hotels we decided to bring back a sales manager 6 weeks before the brand recommended. It resulted in a hotel buyout and 350K in revenue with the hope of more. That is a pretty good return on 6K in salary for a month.
- Get creative. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. Suddenly, we had to think about business differently. Pieces of business that we may not have considered are now in play and everyone is trying to get that same piece of business. How are we going to stand out?
- Attention to details. We need to make both our associates and our guests feel safe. This means extra attention to cleanliness, guest interaction, and communication—all of which can either negatively or positively influence guest perceptions.
The only thing that remains constant is change. How we adapt to that change will determine our success. Even though these times are unprecedented, they are not isolated. We will certainly experience new pandemics, new terrorist impacts, and new financial crises. However, with each crisis comes opportunity, and how we adapt will determine our success and longevity.