While hospitality and travel have been hit the hardest by Covid-19, there’s an underlying feeling of hope that these industries will recover. This is a time for re-invention, brand distinction and exceptional customer service. But re-winning the trust of employees and customers is never easy. So what do hospitality leaders of the future need to do to make sustainable change?

In a recent webinar hosted by the Cornell School of Hotel Administration titled ‘Innovating for a Post Pandemic Future: Challenges and Opportunities in the Hospitality Industry’ panelists Ian Schrager (founder of The Ian Schrager Company), Pasquale DeMaio (GM of Amazon Connect), and Bill Patterson (EVP of Salesforce) identified three key traits critical for the next generation of hospitality professionals. Empathy, curiosity and a drive for innovation.

“Don’t hope that someone else will solve the problems of today. It’s going to be the leaders that lean in, act, and don’t have a fear of failure that become the action-driven organizations who don’t just survive, they thrive”.
[ Bill Patterson, Salesforce ]

We discuss the importance of these three traits below.

EMPATHY

At its core, hospitality is about taking care of people. It’s about understanding people’s needs and wants, and creating a memorable customer experience for each individual. To be truly empathetic, leaders must recognize human behavior and understand people. 

For the hospitality industry, customer engagement and real time feedback is critical for understanding customers at scale. But exceptional customer experience doesn’t exist without a human foundation. So while we dive deeper into a digital existence, we must remember that empathy and the human touch is more important than ever. This lies at the heart of customer loyalty and trust. 

CURIOSITY

The impact of Covid-19 shone a spotlight on travel and hospitality as an industry built on outdated technology and legacy systems. Adapting to cloud based technologies, contactless engagement solutions and working from home requirements proved challenging for many.

Our leaders of tomorrow should possess the skill of curiosity. They should ask ‘why?’ and ‘what if?’. Rather than focusing on the past and simply accepting the status quo, they should look to the future, learn from other industries, seek inspiration from observation and not be afraid of change. 

DRIVE FOR INNOVATION

Coupled with curiosity, future hospitality leaders must also be passionate about innovation and they must not be afraid of failure. They must possess a willingness to learn from others and try new things. 

Up until today, innovative leaders may have battled to get past the ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ mentality. But this stumbling block has come crashing down thanks to the global pandemic. The future is wide open for innovation and technology in the hospitality industry, and if leaders can complement it with empathy and a human touch, they’ll be delivering a customer experience that’s hard to beat.

While 2020 will see many hotels, travel and hospitality businesses close, many others will survive. In fact, they have a unique opportunity to truly thrive. As Bill Patterson said “Don’t hope that someone else will solve the problems of today. It’s going to be the leaders that lean in, act, and don’t have a fear of failure that become the action-driven organizations who don’t just survive, they thrive”.

To watch the full version of Innovating for a Post-Pandemic Future: Challenges and Opportunities in the Hospitality Industry, click here

To learn more about Local Measure's work in the Hotel & Hospitality industries, click here.