British Athletics – What we can Learn from the British Athletics Team?
Lester Pyatt, our new hotel marketing columnist from Omark Strategic Hospitality Solutions, considers what business lessons hoteliers can learn from the British Athletics Team.
OK, I admit it: I’m patriotic about anything sport-related in Great Britain – I’d probably stay up half the night to watch team GB win a bronze medal at the world tiddlywinks contest!
So when the European athletics championships came around I was excited to see how our new breed of athletes would fair with London 2012 only just around the corner. Well, it was good viewing as they ended up with a record haul of 19 medals. Just before the final curtain, I noticed there was an interview with Seb Coe. More of the Coe 2012 stereotypical answers: “progress is good. Were happy with the way it’s looking?”
No! Instead, he was praising Charles Van Commenee, head coach of the British athletics team with the following comments: “Commenee has changed the culture of British athletics.” BBC presenter John Inverdale then turned to the camera and said, “Well here is the coach himself,” and conducted an interview – the essence of which was:
- Athletes had to be accountable for what they do
- Failure had to be accepted and learnt from
- Athletes shouldn’t feel depressed – we want to see a happy team
- Keep it simple – it doesn’t need to be complicated
- All athletes need to be benchmarked for progress
- Have good structures in place
Inverdale asked, “You must be over the moon with the record haul of medals?”
“Yes, it’s very encouraging, but we have to work on our weaknesses,” replied Van Commenee. In essence, they were:
- Why did certain athletes not make the games?
- Why are we poor in field events, especially woman?
- Our woman’s sprint events need improving
As I reflected on the interview it occurred to me that the points made in relation to the athletes could also be considered in a business context – specifically the problems faced by hotel operators. So what can we learn from the British Athletics team?
1. A change of culture is needed, especially in new marketing techniques
- Added value: eg, dining occasions
- Giving presents: eg, fun bags for children
- Making connections with the customer before, during and after their stay
2. Some independent outlet owners need to be honest and accountable
- Self analysing time management sheets: can you work more efficiently and smarter?
- Compile a marketing plan and budget and commit to it
- Don’t sweep issues under the carpet
3. We cannot work in fear; past failures need to be addressed and outlets need to see this as valuable information on how to get it right next time. This can be eradicated by:
- Periodic staff training
- Testing and measuring your marketing
- Quality control procedures: eg, cellar maintenance and hygiene
4. If you or your team look depressed and unhappy in their work, it will convey to your customer base and could jeopardise repeat visits. Get to the bottom of the problem by:
- Implementing customer service charters for all your staff
- Reviewing meetings: allow staff to air their views and frustrations.
5. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Marketing can be a minefield of jargon but can be broken down into easy-to-use methods to make sure the business moves forward in the right direction.
- Do a mini strengths, weakness opportunities and threats analysis (SWOT)
- Have a simple mission statement
6. If you don’t benchmark your customer service and operation how do you know how you have progressed and improved?
- This will Identify your strengths and allow you to work on your weaknesses
- Make sure you include all the customer “points of contact” in your audit
7. Once you have a starting benchmark, establish good procedures and structures to maintain a high level of performance and promote good customer referrals.
- Hygiene procedures
- Staff hospitality
- Well presented interiors
If you can work in a structured and efficient manner and avoid complicating the operational procedures, be accountable and honest with yourself, work on our weaknesses, support depressed staff and eradicate your failures through benchmarking … you might just have a successful business.
Anyone for tiddlywinks?