We all know that it is easy to get locked into focusing on just what is in front of us. Our planners and lists drive the progress of each day as we move from tackling one task to the next. Fortunately, we sometimes get an opportunity to look up and see a broader picture, which is what I experienced participating in the Visit Florida Digital Information Forum. This event included 13 start up hospitality companies, each of whom made a “Shark Tank” style pitch to a panel and the audience. Though the focus was on start up companies, I gained some insights that I believe apply more broadly to the hospitality industry.
You’re not alone and you’re probably not as behind as you think you are. I believe we often don’t give ourselves and our teams enough credit for how much we accomplish. As I mentioned previously, we tend to focus on the “what’s next” and rarely take time to consider what we have already done. Listening to the other start ups, I realized that in some ways we are ahead of the curve in the life of a start up, and we should appreciate that accomplishment. Value your team and they will value meeting the goals.
Exploit your collective personal knowledge. Promoting a start up often relies on convincing customers to invest in something that has no proven track record. So what can you use? Use the experience and knowledge of your team to reinforce the validity of your product. Explain how those experienced individuals came to understand that your start up is meeting a previously unmet need. The experience and knowledge of your team could be the factor that tips new business in your favor.
Some prospects just will not understand. When you work in a relatively new area, such as online review response, you have to educate your prospective clients on why your service is essential. That educational process can be far more lengthy – and repetitive – than expected. Invest in providing many opportunities to tell your story to prospective clients, understanding that each prospect will come to the possible understanding and purchase decision at different times. Recognize when a prospect should come off the list – you only have so much sales power and you need to use it wisely.
Meet your prospects where they are. During the challenge, I noticed that many of the presenters used high-impact images and infographics to tell their stories. I have become a fan of the infographic, but I had not really incorporated that into our presentation. As I watched the presentations unfold, I realized that we could customize our presentations more specifically to our audience. We needed to be more aware of our audience and adapt as needed. Think about who you call on and consider how that individual might best receive your information – younger prospects likely will appreciate high-impact graphics, and older prospects likely will appreciate more details and data.
Connect for success. In all industries, who you know influences success, and in the hospitality industry, this is even more true. We tend to see the same people move from hotel to hotel, from company to company, and we know that the relationships we form will remain with us. Those start ups with deeper hospitality roots seemed to be poised to succeed. Like we all should be doing, these companies were using their connections as resources to improve existing products and services and to help them create the next great ideas.
Rose Mentrie, Chief Innovation Officer, with iResponze speaking during the Visit Florida Digital Information Forum.
My final insight: look up from the desktop and get out of the office. While I am not eager to put myself on stage, I did welcome the opportunity to make new connections and to gain new insights that might apply to our organization and to our clients. I’m not quite ready to take on my next Shark Tank presentation, but I would welcome the opportunity to connect more regularly with my hospitality colleagues. Any one up for lunch next week?
Check out all the Digital Innovation Forum presentations here.
Rose Mentrie, Chief Innovation Officer, at iResponze, helps hotel management companies create successful strategies for responding to online reviews. As someone who has worked with hotels and hotel brands for three decades, Rose understands that guests ultimately determine success at hotels. iResponze® partners with hotels by responding to online reviews on their behalf. This collaboration allows staff to focus on what they do best – delivering exceptional guest experiences.