What does a hospitality leader look like in 2020?

As the hospitality industry evolves and changes, the ability to have a committed, focused and engaged team is becoming more and more critical – for sustained business success.

In fact, the competitive landscape continues to “turn on a dime” and technology keeps surprising us and can affect how engaged your staff members might be. This is where hospitality leadership steps in.

The challenge though is, what does leadership in hospitality look like in 2020? Perhaps the qualities of leaders that we admired earlier on in our lives have changed, or are they still relevant? What are the leaders in hospitality doing today that is enabling them to make a difference – both to their staff members and the businesses they lead?

Recently, OMC Group had the opportunity of contributing to the judging process of the AHA National Awards for 2019 – the Individual Award winners. As part of this process, we interviewed over 45 hospitality leaders from all around Australia and from all types of hospitality venues to discover the components and tactics to adopt if you want to tackle and achieve your biggest goals in 2020.

If you expect a commitment to Customer Service to be a key characteristic of successful hospitality leaders, well, you’re right! What became apparent when talking to the National Award winners though was that customers truly were the center of their thinking when they thought about their venue. Yes, they could understand the importance of customer service in the basic hospitality interactions, but they also had the ability to articulate how important the customer experience was and the multiple touch points throughout the venue. Whether it is how the customers moved through the venue or how the venue is fitted out.

To put it simply, hospitality leaders think about the customer first, then they think about how they can align and amend their venue in line with their customers. They also recognize that Customer Service is not about the transaction, it is about the end-to-end experience.

Another component we explored with the National Award nominees is, professionalism and how they bring it to life within their venues. Again, the components of professionalism look different according to each venue, but true hospitality leaders are clear about the strategy that drives their business, the customer value proposition (CVP), the brand and what they need to bring it to life – every day, consistently. For instance, if their brand is relaxed and friendly, then this is brought to life consistently through the venue.

Supporting the industry 
 What we noticed is that today’s hospitality leaders have a deep commitment to the industry and they bring this to life in a variety of ways. They talk at external events, they hire apprentices and trainees, they represent their roles and venues in industry forums. When not working, they often seek out other venues to ensure they are across trends and new concepts and, they look to support other venues so that the hospitality industry grows.

Keeping up with trends
The hospitality industry is being impacted and influenced by our external environment. What emerged in 2019 as we spoke to hospitality leaders was, that those who are exceeding in hospitality have a heightened awareness of their external environment. Not only are they aware of external trends, they actively go out and identify those trends that are most relevant to their role and venue, then create positive and unique relationships to bring those trends into the venue to enhance their offering and create a greater connection with their customers.

Depending on your role, these trends include embracing the “paddock to plate” concept, implementing and incorporating technology into service delivery, leveraging the environment to create a point of difference and positively locating their venue as a key component of their community.

From a leadership perspective, hospitality leaders understand that in order to maximize the contribution of all team members, a multi-faceted and flexible approach is required with a heavy emphasis on building relationships at an individual level. Hospitality leaders do demonstrate strong leadership when it is required, however they have the ability to flex and vary their approach depending on the situation they are in. Ultimately, they understand that for their team members to contribute at the optimum level, they need to build a meaningful connection between the venue’s goals and the individual’s values – and they create and reinforce that connection with all team members.

But, what makes all the difference? Passion, of course. What comes through when we talked with the National Award nominees is the absolute love and commitment for what they do. In all of the questions we ask, it’s the enthusiasm, enjoyment and optimism that flows through that is so compelling. That then is probably what makes and exceptional hospitality leader – Passion!

Damien O’Malley is a facilitator, consultant and executive coach specialising in leadership development, transformational change, culture development & people and strategy capability enhancement. He has delivered leadership development programs to over 500 hospitality leaders and consults with hospitality business to enhance people performance.alert-info

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