Let your creativity take flight


Consistent innovation is the key to evolution


If you want your hotel(s) to lead in market share, you need to leverage the creativity that surrounds you. While there are countless solutions in the marketplace, innovation is the key business strategy that will set you apart from your competitors.

Do your standard operating procedures (SOPs) remain the same year after year? If so, you’re at a standstill – or worse, a backward slide. Unfortunately, the human brain can easily fall into predictable ruts when considering possibilities. Tasks unquestioned obscure invention.

To put his into practical terms, unless you’re a monk or a luddite, internet connectivity is an unavoidable necessity of life, right? This, in turn, has created the notion that monetizing internet access is a vital component of a company’s revenue stream. However, the controller’s delight over the ancillary Wi-Fi profit line each month is fool’s gold. From a hotelier’s perspective, contrast that $15 trickle to the ever-more-profitable lost room nights from potential guests who refuse to be nickel-and-dimed over what the deli across the street offers for free. The delta in lost profit is astronomical.

Uncapping creativity is the key to greater market share, an engaged workforce, and social media kingmaking. Typically, managers and leaders relegate “creativity” to outside agencies and marketing people. However, they have predictable thought patterns as well and many will feed you the same ideas they feed everyone else.

Authentic thinking – as opposed to mimicking “best practices” – requires a disciplined focus. Consider cultivating creativity as a company practice in which ideas flow to improve every metric. Start an idea factory and staff it with people at every level of the organization.


  • Bring together a roundtable of seven to nine staff members from every level in the organization to hold the vision of a breakdown-free customer-centric culture.
  • Authority and intimidation go hand in hand. Create an environment in which you acknowledge every idea as valuable.
  • Set a ground rule that each participant generates a minimum number of ideas in every session. That ensures people won’t “edit” themselves from presenting groundbreaking ideas that sound “dumb” or impossible. Personal music systems – aka the Walkman – sounded like a dumb idea to the Sony Board of Directors when the president presented the idea.
  • Begin each meeting with breakdowns that happened since the last meeting and turn each breakdown into a breakthrough. Every problem is ground zero for an imaginative solution. Revise SOPs accordingly to reflect the process.
  • Don’t stop the process unless the ideas check off the boxes of extraordinary, distinctive, and original.
  • Prioritize each idea based on merit and profitability before considering cost or execution.
  • Invite ideas from your entire population.
  • If you send out a brief after every idea factory meeting to every associate, you’re sure to build a culture of innovation, inclusion, and invested stakeholders.

Being recognized as a creative leader communicates you’re unsatisfied with the status quo. Leaders who maintain the status quo will find themselves in a congested market with price cuts as the only way out.

Jumpstart the first idea factory session with these three questions:

  1. What might “extreme hospitality” look like?
  2. What will make us a customer magnet?
  3. What will we do differently so the best talent wants to work with us?

Then trust the people you hire to fill your coffers through an enthusiastic and entrepreneurial spirit.

How do owners spell relief? Greater market share! Dare to be exceptional.

Author, consultant, and hotelier Nanci Sherman brought more than 15 hotels to No. 1 in their comp set, some even out of bankruptcy. Conde Nast voted Windstar Cruises the No. 1 small luxury cruise line the year after she consulted with them. www.daretobeexceptional.com.



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