What is Agile Hospitality?
Agile Hospitality is the term we have given to the framework of thinking and approaches we see pioneering hospitality leaders, seasoned experts and maverick operators using to adapt, build resilience and navigate their people and business through these turbulent times.
We have identified this framework on the basis of our own experience, understanding the survey data and researching other organisations (including several in the hospitality sector). Every organisation we have studied, even those that are part of the same industry and impacted by many of the same forces, has its own unique way of working, and there is no single, correct approach.
This is not fluffy management theory. For decades, successful companies have transformed the way they organise themselves, treat their people and deliver a unique customer experience. Think; Patagonia, Apple, Zingerman’s, Union Square Hospitality, Honest Burger, Zappos, Southwest Airlines and the like.
Each embodies one or more of Agile Hospitality principles in how they work and lead their business.
The Need for Agile Hospitality
The survey data has helped to shine a light on several challenges embedded deep in many hospitality organisations. As the introduction to this report outlines, the hospitality sector has been met by multiple threats and challenges over recent years. Organisational cultures, rigid orthodox practises having evolved into the status quo which now risk inhibiting desperately needed change.
For example, many are still caught up in the industrial mindset of top-down and command and control leadership, of knee-jerk reactions to the red boxes on that week’s dashboard, of treating frontline employees like units of labour on the spreadsheet, or of seeing suppliers and customers as cogs in a machine. Whilst revenue, operational efficiencies and year on year growth are important metrics for a viable business; pursuing them at all costs, disconnected from purpose-led values has led to shortcuts in the wrong areas and allowed questionable business practices to take root in some organisations.
As well as the challenges in running operations, pressing and urgent shifts in changes in the external environment mean that new demands of the sector are emerging and picking up pace:
- Labour market challenges are not only creating staffing challenges, but exacerbating employer brand and culture issues across the sector
- Shifting policy agendas and public perception is pushing sustainability issues to the forefront, and growing expectations of ethical corporate behaviour
- Traditional hierarchical structures and role relationships, are no longer meeting the needs of disengaged front line managers and employees who rather than act empowered, wait for their bosses’ or Head Office approval. These do not help hospitality organisations adapt, innovate, and enact change quickly and effectively
- The growing importance of suppliers and 3rd party providers to the operations mean that a more fluid, flexible and partnership-driven approach to leadership and management and different skills and mindsets to the ones deployed by managers and leaders in conventional hospitality organisations
Agile Hospitality is a path to a stronger and more resilient business. Download the free report here: From Fragile to Agile; How to Navigate the New Era of Hospitality.