Strategic Map: How to Develop a Strategic Map for Your Hotel Business (Part 2)

Enda Larkin, author of How to Run a Great Hotel, continues his Five-Part journey into strategic planning for hoteliers. This week, he reveals how to develop a strategic map. 

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Demystifying Strategic Planning
(Part 2)

Creating a strategic map, as we saw in Part One, requires reflection, analysis, action and evaluation guided by four core questions: 

(Click to enlarge flowchart)

Where are we now? – Current Position

The first important stage in building your strategic map is to review where you are now as a business, which means reflecting upon a series of interrelated sub-questions such as:

Areas To Focus On

Sample Questions to Consider


Try to identify the current strengths and weaknesses of your hotel:

  • How is the hotel performing financially?
  • How does that compare to other similar hotels?
  • Who are your customers? Can you divide them into different key segments?
  • What are your customers’ needs? Are you meeting and more importantly exceeding them? How do you know?
  • How does your service offering compare with that of your competitors? Where are the current gaps in what you offer?
  • Are your employees competent, committed and motivated?


Try to get a better feel for the dynamics of the markets you operate (or could operate) in:

  • Do you have a lot of competitors, or only a few?
  • Are you operating in a mass market, or do you offer a specialist or niche experience?
  • Is overall demand growing, or subsiding in your region?
  • What drives the market(s) that you are in? Price, quality or both? Are you increasing market share or losing it in your key markets?
  • How does the market operate? Do customers buy directly, online or through intermediaries, or all three?
  • How is technology affecting the market dynamics?


Try to get a feel for the trends in the industry relevant to your hotel and what supports are available to you:

  • What are the key trends in the industry? For example, are independent hotels being squeezed out by the major brands?
  • What are the overall projections for the industry in your country/region?
  • What supports are available for hotels such as yours?
  • Who are the main hotel associations? Do you have a relationship with them?


Think about general economic and social trends:

  • What is the general economic outlook like for the short and medium term where you are? What is it like in the places where your customers come from?
  • How are consumers’ habits/needs changing?
  • Are there any regulations on the horizon which might have implications for the operation of your hotel?
  • What are the future technology developments which will impact on hotels generally?
  • What are the environmental issues that you need to respond to?

Preparing a SWOT Analysis

The answers you find to the above, and additional, questions must then be interpreted. A well known tool for facilitating this analysis is the SWOT matrix which, as you are likely aware, involves summarising: 

  • The current internal strengths and weaknesses of your hotel – which in essence helps you to answer: where are we now?
  • The opportunities and threats you face in the external business environment which will later influence how you answer: where do we want to be?

SWOT analysis is a widely used, but frequently misused tool. Often, managers sit around the table and everybody chips in what they believe are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the business. Then, by discussion and agreement the SWOT is finalised. Unfortunately, compiling a SWOT based solely on opinions, or ‘group-think’ is of little value; facts are required. Do your research first and then prepare the SWOT based on hard evidence. 

NEXT: Read Part 3 Now … Exploring how to develop and use Vision and Mission Statements and, more importantly, how to translate them into measurable goals.
INDEX: view all articles in this Five Part series

About Enda Larkin: Enda Larkin has over 25 years experience in the hotel industry having held a number of senior management positions in Ireland, UK and the US. In 1994 he founded HTC Consulting, a Geneva based firm, which specialises in working with enterprises in hospitality and tourism. Since that time, he has led numerous consulting projects for public and private sector clients throughout Europe and the Middle East.
He is author of Ready to Lead (Pearson/Prentice Hall 2007), How to Run a Great Hotel (How to Books 2009) which expands on the themes highlighted in this article, Quick Win Leadership (Oak Tree Press 2010) and The Impostor Leaders which is due to be published in 2011. He may be contacted via or at

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