I was greatly inspired by this article on servant leadership twelve years ago. Written by the National Vice Cheif of the Order of the Arrow, I happened upon it again today and it resonated as deeply now as it did years ago. I'm sharing this inspirational article in full in hopes that others may find it as meaningful as I do.
TTHOUGHTS ON SERVANT LEADERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS
By David Dowty, 2004 National Vice Chief
The vast forests, fields, oceans, and mountains of the United States have become our most vital resources in the Boy Scouts of America and the Order of the Arrow; they are, for us the staging grounds to learn life's most precious lessons for every scout and scouter. As an Arrowman, one of our central obligations is to be mindful of our duty to the outdoors, to not only preserve them but also to interpret the deeper messages that nature leaves behind.
We are charged to be servant leaders and as such must strive toward leaving an everlasting legacy of cheerful service. In doing so, each of us defines what our own dreams are and with every breath drawn and every mile tread come closer to the ultimate pinnacle. The domain of our leadership though, is the future. It begins as a single spark within and becomes a roaring flame so intense that all around are enveloped by it. However, we must keep in mind that as we dream and look toward the future, a fire must be built in steps.
There is a natural progression of life around us, soaring through the air, rushing through the rivers and rising from the earth. Every great achievement by our natural surroundings has taken time to develop and grow from its own modest beginnings to an awe inspiring presence. The giant redwoods of Sequoia National Park, the deep gorges of the Grand Canyon, the breadth and power of the Mississippi River and the eloquent beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains took millions of years to become some of the most beloved natural treasurers within our nation's borders. Each built upon past successes and accomplishments because the natural world we live in knows that great undertakings take time. It is from this simple observation, that we can learn a valuable lesson.
Leaders are meant to be authors of great ideas and wild dreams, taking a simple problem and applying a unique form of creativity to imagine the possibilities. As the dream takes shape, a leader must also determine and define for themselves and for their group how success will be measured. If we only defined success as achieved after we had reached and perfected our dreams, no one would ever feel that deep sense of accomplishment. Never knowing the taste of victory can demoralize and dishearten those you serve. Within little goals and aspirations can a group find the will and energy to continue serving their ultimate purpose; it is through those "baby steps" that Mother Nature perfected the natural world and that we will come closer to reaching our own summits.
As a leader, celebrate victories often. Always seek out and learn to identify the building blocks that become the foundation of a truly great achievement and with every block placed, have a party. Observe the world around you and see that even the largest tree in a forest was once a sapling, the deepest canyon, a shallow hole, the widest river, a trickling stream and the oldest mountains, a modest hill. A servant leader can look beyond the horizon of tomorrow and believe that although what they do today may seem small and insignificant, they too will someday realize their ultimate dream.
As I've discussed many times before, I'm confident that innovation is the key to sustained success in business. It cannot be simple coincidence that the top companies in the world are also the most innovative companies in the world. As a leader, you must create a culture of restless renewal that drives innovation and change in your organization.
Why do I say innovation and change? Because innovation – the creative process of re-evaluating ideas – is not enough to deliver success. If leaders don't take the next step and test opportunities to evolve, then innovation is meaningless.
The pages of corporate failures are littered with stories of innovation that didn't deliver change.
For example, did you know that now defunct KODAK invented the digital camera… in 1975? In fact, nearly every digital camera and smartphone in existence today relies on some form of KODAK's patent for digital cameras. But rather than pursue a ground-breaking innovation, KODAK management passed on a segment-shattering change and stuck to film. While the company was innovative, the leadership lacked the vision to embrace change.
How Nick Saban's process would change your business
A nice look behind the scenes at how Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban's drive to lead innovation for his team helped build a the most elite organization in college football today (But still… #GoNoles!)
Chick-fil-A is making an unprecedented move to hook millennial moms
Chick-fil-A's commitment to innovation extends to every guest touchpoint, even the drive-thru
This Is How The Patriots Dynasty Was Built
A great example of how innovation – and restless renewal – drove the Patriots to become a modern NFL dynasty
What an exceptional story of genuine care from the Ladies & Gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.
A student in my special education class recently shared his dream of working as a massage therapist at the Ritz-Carlton on SBSK.
A day later the The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island invited my friend to join them for a full day of work and learning as a massage therapist.
This week, TripAdvisor released their annual list of top travel trends for 2016 (PDF). Hidden in the results are a few very interesting details that not only apply to 2016, but hint at travel trends that may have a longer tail for both hotels, airlines, and OTAs.
Top Travel Trends for 2016
Trend #1 – Seeking new experiences
Globally, 69% of travelers plan to try something new in 2016, including cruises (20%) and adventure travel (15%). A key travel trend in the data is that 17% will try solo travel for the first time in 2016. It will be key for hoteliers to anticipate the unique needs of solo travelers and catering to this emerging trend.
Trend #2 – Spending more because it’s “worth it”
One in three travelers plan to spend more in 2016 than they did in 2015, with nearly half (49%) of respondents doing so “because I or my family deserve it.” To capture these increased revenues, hotels must differentiate themselves with travel packages that focus on unique experiences, such as the "romantic kidnapping" and picnic at Namale Resort.
Trend #3 – Choosing destinations based on culture, special offers
Travel trends continue to point to the importance of targeted online marketing to focus buyers on your destination, with 21% choosing a destination because a hotel had a special offer or package. One in five global travelers have picked a destination because they saw it featured on television. In 2016, turn your marketing and social media team loose to create visibility for those key items that make your market a "must see."
Trend #4 – Staying cool and connected
While free wi-fi continues to be a critical buy factor for most travelers (46%), many travelers relate that they require "super-fast" wireless internet access (26%); 11% are willing to pay a premium to get the speed they need to stream movies and connect in high-definition.
Trend #5 – Rising room rates (and optimism)
Industry analysts and hoteliers are confident that 2016 will bring higher rates, with 47% of global hoteliers initiating rate increases. This travel trend should lead to capital improvements and enhancements for many in the industry. Despite these reinvestments, 65% of hoteliers expect profits to increase next year, as 2016 should give the industry a new baseline for both ADR and profitability.
Trend #6 – Managing reputations online
Given that TripAdvisor initiated the survey, it's not surprising to see reviews carrying a focus in 2016. I was surprised, however, to see only 59% of hoteliers planning to invest more in online reputation management in 2016. I anticipated this number to be much higher and see this as a travel trend that will go higher in future years. There is simply too much at stake for service providers to not actively manage these channels.
Here's what I'm reading this week to stay aware of emerging trends and opportunities:
Travel Weekly Consumer Trends 2014: Explosion in Mobile Bookings
With the launch of the new iPhone 6 by Apple this week, larger phones and "phablets" will continue to gain mobile share. The larger interface is a great canvas for hospitality sites and apps, which rely on rich media and large photos. Phablets have just 6% of the market share but 11% of the app usage, meaning owners of these devices are heavily device dependent and actively engaged.
Measuring Acquisition Cost alongside RevPAR
As focus shifts from gross revenue to net profit, acquisition cost per room night has come under more scrutiny. Is it acceptable to measure total RevPAR, or should hoteliers focus more closely on net RevPAR and ProPAR (Profit per available room)? This is a very intriguing topic and one conversation that most revenue managers are not fully prepared to have with their ownership.
A detailed discussion of new benchmarks for hoteliers, including ProPAR, ProPOR (profit per occupied room), Net RevPAR, Net RevPOR, and COA (cost of acquisition). This article, along with the previous piece, represent a strategic shift in revenue management. Great read.
For years, Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity have been entrenched OTA players in a static hospitality landscape. With back-end connectivity to the GDS, these OTA giants represented a simple, at-home entry point for many travelers. Over time, aggressive marketing and rate parity have established OTAs as a reliable retail outlet for hotels, airlines, and rental cars.
But in the past 18 months, a seismic shift has begun to change the landscape for the online travel agencies. Foreshadowed by Google's 2010 acquisition of ITA Software, the rise of "big-data" represents the greatest challenge to OTAs in more than a decade and is beginning to change the landscape for many of the largest online travel agencies.
Armed with data on preferences, interests and even search histories, big-data providers like Facebook and Google have built platforms by which hoteliers can offer highly targeted packages and promotions to small groups of retail travelers. The result looks to net higher conversions at a lower cost of sale for hoteliers, all while delivering a more satisfying retail experience for guests.
This shifting landscape could bring the eventual downfall of the parity-based model for OTAs. Just this week, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi confirmed to CNBC's "Squawk Box" show that Expedia is looking for ways to shift its offering to hoteliers away from parity towards a guest-targeting model. (Note: Khosrowshahi's comments about Expedia's future model begin at 2:20 into the video.)
I believe that the pressure to build a more profitable, guest-targeted model may drive OTA consolidation. It's also quite possible that we will see the larger OTAs pursue big-data through acquisition of social media properties such as Pinterest or Gogobot.
Does this mean that Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz are about to fold up shop? Not at all. Although consolidation within OTAs is possible, the likely path for OTAs will be less emphasis on non-targeted results through the GDS and more focus on generating guest-targeted offerings at a higher margin.
Here are three short, compelling reads regarding luxury sales and marketing in the hospitality segment. I found each of these very poignant for guest service and hotel sales in our industry:
Twenty percent of Virtuoso's customers drive 71% percent of sales
This statistic speaks to the old adage of how important it is to take care of your best customers, especially in the luxury hospitality segment.
Biggest risk to luxury brand dilution? Partner Offers
A new study finds that luxury brand cross-marketing is a dangerous tightrope, bringing in new customers when done well but risking market share for both brands when poorly executed.
Four Seasons Hotels are active on 393 social media channels
Is there an effective limit to the "be where your customers are" mantra that has driven CMO and social marketing? Also, is there a limit to the effectiveness of "be where your customers are" in the luxury segment?
Interested in seeing more about luxury hospitality sales and marketing? Follow me on Twitter