The Power of Common Sense

Posted on September 9, 2010

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Fifteen years ago when I just started my professional career with zero experience in the hotel industry, I had lunch with a veteran hotelier that was working for the group I had joined. I never forgot what he told me: “Fabrice, the hotel industry is very complex and takes on board numerous factors that you will need to mastermind, but at the end of the day, it is all about common sense“. It was a very wise advise that I always remembered.
Ever since I have always tried as much as I could to use my common sense rather than following blindly the predefined industry rules but challenged them at every step of the journey. It is not about challenging for the sake of it as most of the rules are valid and necessary, but more to make sure we have always considered all options.

The Peninsula model

I am a big fan of the Peninsula Hotels brand. Not really because it is ultra luxury, or one of the best at what they do, but because they systematically think about new possible options for the comfort of their guests, always pushing boundaries, setting very high goals for themselves AND constantly challenging their own rules.

Recently, I was informed about a new brand standard being implemented across their hotels. All their minibar will be placed at 1.40 meters high (4.6 feet) as opposed to being at floor level. This new standard has three objectives:
1/Increase guests comfort so that they can access the minibar without going on their knees or hurt their back .
2/ Increase minibar consumption through easier and faster access.
3/ Easier and faster for the housekeeping staff to do the re-fill.

We may all shout “great idea, why I didn’t think about it before??”. Because we are tempted to follow the norm instead of following our common sense and see the obvious.
Placing a minibar at 1.40 meter high doesn’t require extensive R&D or scientific analysis. Only common sense.

“Common sense is not so common” – Voltaire.

There are many rules in the hotel industry that we take for granted or that are just set in stone and, let’s admit it, keep us in a state of status quo. Unless we use our common sense to step back, re-think the guest experience at every step of its journey and innovate, we take the risk to deceive our customers. Customers, in any industry, are thrilled by innovation.

If you have witnessed break through innovationq, be it big or small, driven by common sense, please feel free to comment and share with everyone here.

Fabrice Burtin – September 2010

Related articles:

Innovation – why the hotel industry has missed the train
We should Not get Stuck with Best Practices

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