Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Draws to a Close

Well, the kids are going back to school, which, for all intents and purposes, spells the end of the summer, or certainly as determined by most Hoteliers.
Once the kiddies go back to school, the likelihood of “summer vacationers” is no longer anything but a memory, and a time to take stock of how the season has gone.
What’s the verdict?
Not good.
At the beginning of the year, as has been in case in far too many years, the Hoteliers in Canada were all wondering about, and secretly hoping and praying for the same thing.  Please oh please, let the leisure business return this year.
Were their prayers answers?  Their hopes fulfilled? 
I’ve spent the last several days talking with most of the Hoteliers in this city, and the verdict is in.  The leisure business did NOT return this year, as was hoped.
I can’t say that I was surprised to hear what I did.  I’m in and out of many of the downtown Hotels every week, and what I can usually immediately sense on my own, is further validated when I talk to the front line employees, the guest agents, bellmen and doormen.  They are only too willing to confirm how much slower their Hotels have been than in past summers.
Sure, there are more city-wide conventions this year, and corporate travel is rebounding, to a degree.  Airline crews can be seen in many of the Hotel lobbies checking in or checking out on a regular basis, but none of this replaces what has traditionally been the bread and butter in the Hotel business – the summer leisure traveller.
Ah, the summer leisure traveller.  They pay higher rates, they spend more and they traditionally have a longer average length of stay – just some of the reasons that we love them, and miss them so much.
There are a lot of things that need to happen, to create the “perfect storm”, for leisure travel to return to where it used to be, and I, for one, am not sure that we will see the perfect storm come together for the major Canadian cities for at least the next several years, if ever again.
The problem is, Hoteliers are slow to react, and this has not served them well in the past.
Hoteliers need to realize that the business model has changed FOREVER, and the sooner they understand that, the sooner they may be willing to take a new approach.  To really think out of the box, (and yes, I know how over-used that expression is).
The whole situation can be boiled down to that old expression; “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.”
I have an expression of my own, and I know that it has annoyed some of my co-workers at times, when they have been facing challenges, but, it’s true. 
“If it was easy, anyone could do it.”
And being a leader isn’t easy.
It’s time to do something different, and create something new as a result.

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