Strategic Direction Part 1: Strategic Planning — Why Bother?


For many hotels, July is the beginning of business plan and budget season and the one time of year to step back and assess where you have been and where you are going. But aside from the challenges of leaders being away from customers and the day-to-day issues of running a hotel for two (and sometimes more) months every year, we should ask: why is it important to develop, define, and refine a direction that might wind up proving to be useless given the volatility of today’s marketplace?

"If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there."
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Taking time to assess what went right and what could have gone better is very important in making sure the successes are repeated and the not-so-great decisions and actions are avoided. This process also considers external factors such as new competitors and geopolitical and economic forecasts that may impact the hotel. While it is impossible to predict natural disasters and dramatic stock market swings, assessing all available data, market knowledge, and product enhancements provides an overall guide for everyone in the hotel to follow. (More on how to create a strategy next month.)

Having a clear strategic plan is not only a sound business practice; it helps leaders to make smaller decisions, even in the day-to-day operation of the hotel. The strategic plan becomes the compass for decisions for the following year or, possibly, future years.

Employees want a clear strategy too!

You might find it surprising to hear that today’s employee wants to have a feeling of belonging. Two key ways to give them that is to communicate company developments and to assign work that is important to the organization; for example, work that is part of the hotel direction.

Hotel sales managers certainly want to know the plan. 89% of them listed a clear hotel strategy as the sales tool most important for them to be successful, even above having more advanced technology and attending additional sales training. Individual sales contributors need to understand the hotel direction and where to target their efforts, so they aren’t wasted.

Strategies vs. Tactics

One of the factors in creating a good strategic plan is knowing the difference between strategy and tactics. Leaders often get the two confused. The easiest way to explain the difference is: strategy is the ‘what’ you want to accomplish, and tactics are the ‘how’ to get it done. They comprise all of the actions that will be taken in order to achieve the big-picture strategy. Examples of strategy statements are:

  • Be the #1 RevPAR leader in the market by leading in ADR.
  • Increase the group business mix to 65% over the next 3 years.

I recommend a maximum of three to five strategies and keeping them easy to understand. This means they can be remembered by all managers, especially when a decision needs to be made. Be sure to include market segments or business units that are vital to the hotel’s overall success. If they aren’t successful, the hotel will not achieve budget or beat the competitors and will, overall, underperform.

Once the big-picture, must-do strategies are determined for the hotel as a whole, each market segment and/or business unit should have its own three to five core strategies.

Stay tuned for next month’s "Strategy Hospitality Report," where we will discuss how to develop a strategy.


This year, develop a strategic direction that answers the question "What do you want to accomplish in 2020?" and becomes the compass for the entire hotel. Be malleable and flexible so that if a crisis arises, the team can right the ship and get back on track to achieving success.


"Hope is not a strategy."
Vince Lombardi

Take the Next Step Now

Dramatically improve your hotel revenue by hiring Jo-Anne to:

  • Uncover the Hotel’s Strategic Direction for 2020.
  • Identify the Hotel’s Positioning Statement.
  • Optimize the Sales and Marketing Organization.
  • Get Behind Barriers that Impede Employee Productivity.
  • Create Structure out of Chaos.
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction.
  • Develop a Healthy Organizational Culture.
  • Improve Employee Engagement.
  • Provide Leadership Training.
  • Conduct Leadership Executive Coaching.

If you would like to hear more, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected]

About Jo-Anne Hill

Founded by industry expert Jo-Anne Hill, JH Hospitality Consulting dramatically improves revenue and profitability in creative ways at hotels around the world. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, Dorchester Collection and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

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