18. March 2024

Navigating Change Management in Hospitality

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Navigating Change Management in Hospitality

What is change management in hospitality? 

Simply put, it’s the way your business approaches and manages change. 

Change is the key to business survival - and that’s particularly true in the hospitality industry. A pandemic, an economic crisis, soaring turnover rates, the rise of AI, concerns over ESG …the last few years have been a lot for the industry, and the people who work in it, to deal with. 

That doesn’t make change any less difficult. Over 50% of organisational changes are unsuccessful, with anything from reluctant staff to poor execution (or something else entirely!) being the culprit. 

At Sweeply, we know a thing or two about making changes. We’ve driven digital transformation for hundreds of hospitality clients (like Íslandshótel or Hotel Vitar, to name two) worldwide.

We asked Brynja Þrastardóttir, our Customer Success Manager for her thoughts: 

“Managing change can be challenging, as it needs people to step out of their comfort zone and adapt to new situations. It’s common for people to resist change because of fear of the unknown - leaders should always keep this in mind, and approach with empathy, when implementing changes.”

Our top tip for positive change? It all starts with a stellar change management strategy. Let’s dive in: 

Plan

Whatever change you’re implementing - whether it’s a new organisational structure, a new task management technology, or new process for handling disappointed guests - start with planning. Think about the following questions: 

    Why does change need to happen? 

    How will your proposed solution get you there? 

    Which stakeholders will be involved? 

    How will you implement the change, and how long will it take? 

    What results do you want to see, and how will you measure them? 

Think about what, or who, else the change might impact, too. Holding a pre-mortem with your key stakeholders can be a great way of planning for everything that might go wrong, or right, with the project. 

Prepare 

Our number 1 tip for managing change successfully? It comes from the top. Make sure your leadership team communicates why the change is being made, and why it’s a good thing. 

Think about how it’s being communicated, too. Presenting change as an opportunity to make everyone’s lives easier is likely to get better results than presenting it as a painful process everyone has to get through. 

Brynja says: 

“It’s essential to communicate the reason for the change and the benefits it’ll bring. Address concerns and involve staff at all levels. Treat your people as part of the plan, and they’ll be more receptive.” 

And for those that are more resistant? Make sure to find out why, address their concerns and work together to find a solution. 

Implement 

It’s time to make the change! Give your team the training they need, so they feel confident with the new way of doing things (bonus: giving development opportunities boosts engagement and retention rates 😉). 

On training, Brynja thinks that hands-on is best. “Interactive workshops and clear instructions are the way to go. It’s also essential to provide ongoing support and feedback.” 

Build a culture of mutual support, so those most involved have someone to turn to if something goes wrong or something needs changing. Take a look at our collaboration and communication tips if you need some more guidance. Having an internal support team ready to help if necessary can be a great way of making nervous employees feel confident.

Review your progress - and iterate 

Look back at your goals and KPIs set at the beginning of the process. Have you hit them? Do any need adjusting? Have you fallen short in any areas? 

People are at the heart of hospitality, so make sure to include qualitative feedback in your analysis. Speak to stakeholders in the project and other staff, and keep an eye on guest feedback. 

This should indicate the areas you’re doing well - and a few areas you can iterate in. Rinse and repeat ✅

Want to learn more about common challenges in the hospitality industry, and how to overcome them? Just head over to the Sweeply blog.

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