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Throughout the duration of the semester, I have learned many valuable pieces of information that will assist me in my future professional endeavors, such as how to become the most effective leader that I am capable of by utilizing my strongest traits, as well as being open to constructive feedback from leaders and teammates. I have also learned that every employee or worker will have different needs or requests from their leaders that will greatly differ from person to person, which is why leaders should always try their best to ask their team members what would be the most effective method of assisting them in reaching their goals. I have also learned many new and informative lessons from each of the case studies that we have reviewed over the course of the semester.
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For the McDonald’s case study, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I had not given much thought to how the fast food chain has been able to remain so successful since the 1950’s until learning that they have used various strategies over the years. Instead, I simply believed the restaurant was able to experience success because they provided consumers fast meals at low prices (which, to an extent, has been a large component of their success). Instead, McDonald’s has been successful due to the fact that they have consistently been innovative and resilient. There are different product offerings that are available for consumers (i.e., healthy alternatives, nutrition information on menus, etc.), as well as charitable efforts such as the Ronald McDonald House Charity for local communities.
In regards to the Yum! Brands case study, I was able to learn about multi-branding, internalization, and divestiture, as these were strategies that I was previously unfamiliar with. Multi-branding involves marketing two or more brands that are similar but are competing with one another under the same firm. Internalization involves a multi-national corporation that is able to provide goods and services when other competing companies are unable to so, while divestiture is a strategy that removes part of a group’s assets from its current business portfolio. I believe that these three strategies are important to know, as they can assist companies, businesses, and corporations in finding a competitive advantage by offering differentiated services and products.
With the Orchid Hotel case study, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the overall focus/mission of the brand is to be as eco-friendly as possible, and educating guests on how to be environmentally-conscious as well. I was also surprised to learn that Orchid Hotels were able to use recycled materials to create tissue boxes, coat hangers, etc. that are in the guest rooms, as I did not believe the items would be durable enough for such purposes. For the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), I thought it was amazing how the brand was one of the first in the hospitality industry to provide guests with various technological capabilities such as accessing their rooms via credit cards, Bluetooth-enabled guest check-ins, self-serve kiosks, and other capabilities. I also thought that it was amazing how IHG created and implemented a virtual concierge system called “eHost” to provide guests with information regarding local dining establishments, local attractions, etc. because I believe that will provide guests with more customized and tailored experiences that they will personally find interesting.
Regarding safety/security and September 11th, I was aware that security measurements had increased in order to keep civilians safe, but I was not aware of the SARS protocols that were established after the health scare/epidemic. I also thought it was ingenious how the hoteliers used the lower levels of occupancy to their advantages by completing renovations, cross-training, and creating new marketing campaigns with special offers that would attract guests after the pandemics passed. With the Darden Restaurants case study, I was surprised to learn that the company owns and operates 100% of their restaurants, which makes them much more sensitive to their earnings and sale levels. I also thought that it was resourceful how Darden remained relevant with all of the casual dining trends within the industry by conducting consumer research, building strong core competencies, and having relevant training programs.
When I reviewed the Accor in Asia case study, it was interesting to learn about their Resinter Central Reservation Service, which is a global central reservation system that the company utilizes. I also thought it was a smart move for the brand to build various hotel properties in areas that are popular for commercial purposes as well as leisure travel, as this will help appeal to different groups of guests, travelers, and consumers (i.e., families, business people, etc.). It was also interesting to learn that Accor was able to prosper in the Asian market due to the various partnership agreements that were made with large local corporations (many of which were joint-ventures), as well as working alongside prominent tourism companies and marketing teams to help promote travel through frequent flyer programs and other campaigns. I believe these tactics are ones that many leaders can utilize, as it involves the observation of what consumers are interested in, and providing services or accommodations accordingly.
Regarding loyalty programs, I believe that they are a “necessary evil” that are both a competitive advantage and a critical success factor. I have learned about loyalty programs during my Guest Services Management class a few semesters prior, and am still a little surprised by how beneficial the strong/well-established loyalty programs can help businesses, regardless if they are within the hospitality field or not. For example, successful loyalty programs are able to help companies gain competitive advantages over those that do not have established programs; can help encourage increased guest spending (i.e., every dollar spent is a point earned that can be redeemed at a later date); and can increase the rates of referral via word-of-mouth, all of which are a few of the many benefits of having an established loyalty program. Additionally, it would be to a company’s benefit to have a program with loyal customers, as it can reduce expenses from three to five times the normal cost of trying to attract new consumers to a specific brand, product, etc.
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Before reading the textbook and being better informed about boutique hotels, I was not very familiar with the concept of these properties, or how they could fit into the hospitality or travel industries. However, after reading the case study regarding boutique hotels, it was interesting to see how they differ from “traditional” hotel properties by offering guests and travelers uniquely designed properties with intriguing architecture and themed guest rooms in a 150-room (or less) property, as well as food and beverage experiences, art and literature forays, and highly customized/personalized services for individuals who are seeking adventure, travel, and one-of-a-kind experiences. I believe that the concept of having such unique properties and experiences is a credible idea to emulate, but the main concern would include finding a way to ensure that each guest’s experience was customized and tailored to their interests, which is not always an easy feat in a large property that has 300+ guest rooms.
The last case study we reviewed for the semester included the different leadership styles of Ms. Barry Sternlicht and Mr. Howard Schultz. Mr. Sternlicht is most prominently known for expanding the Starwood Hotels & Resorts into global and national brands during his 10-year tenure, as well as his abilities to recognize the value of properties, the financial aspects of real estate, as well as being able to make instantaneous investments. Traits that best described Mr. Sternlicht have included hardworking, aggressive, smart, and bright. In contrast to Mr. Sternlicht, Mr. Schultz (of Starbucks fame) was someone who focused on building relationships, equity, and connections not only with customers who visited the coffee shops, but with his employees and local communities as well. Much of Mr. Schultz’s success has also been a result from being able to raise capital, planning accordingly for expansions, and communicating/sharing his visions with others.
Having had the opportunity to review all of the case studies this past semester, as well as hearing my fellow classmates present on these topics, I believe that I have gained a better understanding regarding the various aspects of being a “successful” leader within the hospitality industry. Since no two days are ever the same within this particular field of work, leaders must always “expect the unexpected,” and have contingency plans in the case of inclement weather, security issues, the widespread of pandemics, low seasonality, and other unforeseen circumstances. I have also learned how different strategies and tactics can help businesses and organizations succeed, such as offering loyalty programs that are easy for guests to understand, utilize, and redeem benefits with, in order to feel as if they are truly receiving value for their purchases, and as if they are important to a specific company instead of simply being another consumer.
It is also of vital importance for leaders to gain feedback and insight from their team members and consumers, as that is usually the best method of learning what practices and policies are performing well in an organization, and which can be improved for the future. As an aspiring leader within the hospitality industry, my current action plan includes attending graduate school to obtain my master’s degree in Hospitality, for which I have initiated the application process for the upcoming spring semester. I also hope to begin the “Shadow Me” program alongside my Spa Director, Lindsay Neeley, and Assistant Spa Director, Lisa Grande, to gain a better understanding of the daily responsibilities associated with such roles within a luxury resort setting. Additionally, I hope to work on strengthening my “leadership weaknesses” such as being firm yet courteous with guests or team members that are less than pleasant or are making requests that cannot be accommodated, as well as being more self-confident and believing in my knowledge and capabilities.
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