How fast are your horses?

With 2021 coming up on the rails, are you ready to look at your hotel business differently?

Are you stuck in the past or are you ready to embrace the future?



“If I had asked what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This is one of my favourite quotes and it comes from Henry Ford. Can you imagine if pioneers like him did not dream and have the crazy ideas what our world would be like? He was a true Innovator!


Innovation and continuous improvement are fundamental to our very existence as human beings. We are blessed with the ability to challenge convention and consider newer and better ways to do things however, very often “we do what we have always done” and it’s not until someone, or something challenges us that we start to think differently.


COVID-19 is challenging the Hospitality business like it has never been challenged before. Thousands of dedicated and highly skilled people have lost their livelihood and some businesses may never re-open. What we regarded previously as “normal” may have disappeared forever and we need to plan for the “new normal”, but what does that mean?


To consider this we need to place ourselves in Henry Ford’s mindset; do we want to continue doing what we have always done and just produce faster horses, or do we need to re-consider how we operate our hospitality businesses to sustain us in the post COVID-19 world?


For example, the increased focus today on cleanliness when we travel, stay in a hotel, or eat out is probably not going away but can your business sustain that cost indefinitely? Will there be a change in demand for our F&B services in hotels? Will guests feel safe and comfortable eating in the restaurant and bar, or will we need to provide an enhanced room service product? Are our menus optimised to provide the best selection of quality food to the customer without requiring an excessive list of ingredients and a large team of chefs to produce the dishes? Should bedrooms be serviced every day or every 2/3 days? Can we consolidate roles and contract types to improve flexibility and efficiency in the workforce?


Of course, driving revenues and lowering costs will continue to be a priority but how has this changed with COVID-19? Will your regular customers return to you when you re-open or has that nice new hotel up the street offered them a better product for a lower cost? This works both ways of course, can you now win business that you did not attract in the past and steal it from a competitor?


This is also a perfect opportunity to review your suppliers, do you need to buy the same items from them that you have always used or is there a better, cheaper option with better terms? Can you join a purchasing group to consolidate your procurement and lower your costs?


COVID-19 has been a disaster for Hospitality however, it provides us with a unique opportunity to start over with a clean sheet of paper. Very often we have been running so fast to keep up with the demands of the business we have not had the opportunity pause and review our offering. COVID-19 has forced us to slow down, let us take the time to review, re-think, and re-energise our businesses for the demands of the “new normal”. For sure we will make mistakes on this journey and that is ok, at least that will give us a better idea of what does not work, and we will learn, adapt, and start again.


Henry Ford had an amazing idea, he showed enormous courage to develop his plan, he had the foresight to know that his motor car was not perfect, but it was a good start. Thankfully, Henrys successors have continually improved his original idea to this day, but I can’t help wondering how fast horses could run if we didn’t have cars…



About the Author:

Tom McDermott is the HCC Operational Excellence Expert. He helps hotels review their operational processes and adapt them for the changing hotel environment. Never before have his skills been so required in hospitality!


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