Just about the beginning of November the vast majority of us start thinking of Christmas presents for our loved ones and friends. We are thinking ‘Inside the Christmas box’, imagining the present boxed and wrapped up under the tree, waiting to be opened by the lucky recipient on Christmas day.

However, my question to you all as we prepare to celebrate this year is, how many of us stay ‘in the box’ throughout the year? How many of us are happy to sit there and live with the status quo in our professional lives?

How many of us represent the ‘old firm attitude’, where an opportunity is a problem, and how many of us are the new, hungry firms where a problem is an opportunity?

It is the hungry firms who will survive and thrive in the new world that is so competitive and cutthroat. No matter how large the box you are in, no matter how high the sides to climb or the lid to be opened, you have to carry on trying. How many entrepreneurs made it big after failing in so many ventures first? The solution is out there, but if you do not go searching you will never find it, and the first thing is to GET OUT OF YOUR BOX!

Think about a guy that gets out of jail after a ten year incarceration. As he gets used to being back in circulation he sees so many new things, experiences things he could not dream about while in his cell. He eats them all up hungrily, eager to understand the new world.

The same is true for the hospitality industry. Independent operators need to step out and question every aspect of their ‘status quo’, the operation of their property. Every department must be reviewed, every financial result scrutinized for a way to do better, to save more money or increase revenues. Food and beverage, housekeeping, maintenance, marketing and sales, the front desk, all must come under the magnifying glass.

Is food production over the top, are procurements being bought at best prices and seasonally used, are the shifts efficient and corresponding to high traffic peaks, is food stored properly and a myriad more questions to be answered.

What makes up your ADR? Which segments are performing best in profitability, and are there better markets to be tapped? How do I lower dependency on the OTA’s, and what is the best plan to do that?

Is my property well maintained and clean? Can I gain better consistency by better preventive maintenance, save money and increase guest satisfaction?

Is the service I give my guests the best we can do and how can we improve?

Is my budget realistic, and how can I get all my team and employees all pulling their weight and doing their best to reach targets?

The hotel guests of today are looking for value and meaning to their stay. They do not necessarily look automatically for the huge, generic brands to stay at. They are looking for a place that cares about them cares about the community and offers them a friendly, clean, well maintained property.

So my advice to all independent operators and owners is to climb out of that restricting box, take an honest look at your property and see if you offer this to your guests.

If you do not, then what are you going to do about it next year, after all the Christmas presents have escaped their boxes?