7 things that make for effective Tourism & Hospitality team meetings.Oct 19, 2021
Throughout my career, when I think about it and go back over the diaries of 22 years, I have attended over 3,000 team meetings. These have varied in numbers present, structure, setting and length. As I reflect, I am asking myself which were the most effective meetings and why? I am compelled to say that I attended one weekly team meeting for a full 8 years, which was by far the most productive, and one that was built on ownership, responsibility, and accountability. However, it was made even better by its consistency – it took place at the same time each week, hail, rain or snow and still goes on to this day! I learned that true value of things like structure, strategy, focus and agility from this meeting.
I learned that the reason why certain people and businesses become hugely successful is because they will play the long game and put certain disciplines in place early in their journey that they uphold for the entire journey. They will do things like have a planning meeting, or a review, or put an emergency response team together even when they don’t want to, or when they don’t feel like it – why? They are disciplined and know that business is about being disciplined and consistent.
Team meetings can be motivational and engaging, but they take planning and structure so that participants can prepare for them and so that they can participate. Participants need to see value in a meeting, as a place where they can contribute and learn at the same time. As someone that has been involved in running hospitality business meetings, here are the things that I see as essential in making them more effective:
I have found that if the meeting is scheduled at a particular time, on a particular day of the week e.g., 2pm on a Monday, then that needs to remain constant so that people's patterns develop around the meeting. Zoom and the other tele conferencing platforms have made it possible (and acceptable) to run the meetings as hybrids where not everyone will be physically in the room but can still participate. More importantly, it has made it possible to schedule the meetings giving people the option of dialing in from any device or location.
I have learned that for hospitality business meetings to be effective, they need to have direction and leadership. Attendees are much more likely to stay focused when they know that the meeting will begin on time, have a structure and very importantly that it will finish on time. The responsibility of the facilitator or meeting leader (who may be the business owner, manager, or a head of department) is to provide that structure and time management. This gives the participants a sense of productivity and certainty that the meeting will be focused and worthwhile.
Over the years, I have used agendas to help people to prepare for meetings, which will deliver in terms of decisions that need to be made and items that need to be discussed. A typical agenda would include the weekly business performance and the year-to-date sales position versus the previous year. It would look at the reasons for changes in the sales pattern and would attribute sales surges to various types of activities and events so that everyone on the team becomes aware of the opportunities and threats. The agenda would include a vital section for planning ahead for the coming week and would also look at longer term strategies. Out of this will come the tasks assigned to the attendees. The agenda also needs an Any Other Business Section and if the time for the next meeting is not set, then it should be done at the very end.
The Key Performance Indicators are a critical element of an effective meeting. Looking at numbers such as comparable departmental sales, bed-nights, restaurant transaction numbers, average spend per head, online orders for collections and labour costs brings about a heightened awareness among the team and gives the meeting a tremendous focus on remedial activity. The KPI’s are also excellent for attributing growth to recent activity/events, providing a “test and measure” facility in the business. Team members can be acknowledged for their efforts which results in much better ownership of “the numbers”. Looking at the dashboard of the business using KPI’s consistently also builds a common language between the team and the management.
For a meeting to be successful, I believe that attendees need to have a chance to contribute and to table any queries that they may have. This empowers team members to play a role in decision-making, or to propose their ideas for operational changes, marketing strategies or maybe better efficiency. As business owners and managers, we must remember the personal and professional development journeys of our team, giving them the confidence to speak and share at the meeting can have a huge impact on their self-esteem and pride in their work – that is why I highly recommend active participation!
Actions and Tasks
To ensure follow-on, and progress, the setting out of tasks is a vital part of bringing a team meeting to a conclusion. From each KPI will come a piece of activity such as content creation for an upcoming event, a press release, a database mail out or maybe a seasonal promotion. When the tasks are agreed and assigned, it makes the attendees accountable and as well as that they leave them meeting charged up, full of direction! The action list should be documented as part of a meeting summary that can be used the following week to revisit the tasks and check the progress. Actions and tasks if fairly assigned can lead to much better teamwork and enables a manager, owner, or department head to develop the team members into reliable individuals worthy of more responsibility going forward.
For meeting attendees to have clarity, and if the meeting is not well established as a recurring weekly event as it is, I find that it is important to agree with everyone the next date and time. This puts a deadline on their task or action and will also guarantee better attendance. To ensure that agreed activities are processed in a timely fashion, knowing when they will be revisited puts that sense of urgency into their execution. If we leave a meeting without agreeing on a next date, it can be hard to reconvene, weeks and momentum may be lost!
Remember hospitality and tourism business team meetings can be fun, if they involve everyone concerned, and that they start and finish in a predictable time frame. To all mangers and team leaders, best of luck with your meetings and always read the room!!!
Jarlath is a business coach with an array of experience in customer service and marketing. Check out his course on how to run an effective in-house customer service training session here.
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