Hotel operator

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Difference Between a Plan and Playbook

The Difference Between a Plan and a Playbook

by Doug Radkey

An AI-generated image of a business plan on one side, versus a playbook on the other side

Sometimes AI comes up with impressive images. This is one of them.

You’ve likely heard that 80 percent of hospitality businesses fail within the first five years.

When you ask those in the industry the question of why there is such a high rate of failure, they reply with a fairly predictable list of factors. These tend to be location, concept or brand confusion, lack of service standards, toxic workplace culture, sub-par marketing efforts, and mismanaged funds.

Many operators who fail try to quickly blame external factors, such as the economy.

When you ask the next questionwhat are the other 20 percent of operators doing differently to surpass five years in businessyou get one simple answer. The difference between those who drive a sustainable profit of 12, 15 or 20 percent (or more) and those who don’t boils down to one thing and one thing only: they have strategic clarity.

It’s not that the successful 20 percent did not battle challenges or the same tough economy or labor struggles. What they had was clarity, and a playbook detailing how to overcome a multitude of challenges.

So how do you achieve strategic clarity? Well, it’s much more than just writingor filling out a template fora business plan.

What is Strategic Clarity?

Strategic clarity is the comprehensive understanding and alignment within your hospitality business regarding its identity, direction, purpose, and the means to achieve its goals.

It involves clear communication and consensus on key aspects of the business, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objectives. Below, the key components that define strategic clarity.

1. Understanding Who We Are

  • Core Identity: This includes the mission, vision, and core values of your business. It defines what the business stands for, and its fundamental purpose.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses: Recognizing the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) aids in identifying the core competencies and areas for improvement.
  • Culture: The shared beliefs and practices that characterize the business’ internal environment, and how it interacts with both staff and guest perceptions.

2. Knowing Where We are Going

  • Vision: A clear and compelling picture of what the business aspires to become in the future. It serves as a guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
  • Long-term Goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that outline the desired outcomes over an extended period.
  • Milestones: Intermediate targets that mark progress towards the long-term goals.

3. Understanding Why We are Doing This

  • Purpose: The fundamental reason for the business’ existence beyond making a profit. It encompasses the broader impact the business aims to have on its community.
  • Motivation: The driving force behind the business’ actions and strategies. This includes the values and principles that guide decision-making, as well as behavior.
  • Stakeholder Alignment: Ensuring that the goals and activities of the business align with the interests and needs of its stakeholders: guests, employees, investors, and the community.

4. How We are Going to Get There

  • Strategy: The overarching plan that outlines how the business will achieve its vision and long-term goals. It includes the allocation of resources and the selection of strategic initiatives.
  • Tactics: The specific actions and steps that will be taken to implement the strategy. This involves detailed planning, delegation, resources, and execution.
  • Performance Metrics: The criteria and tools used to measure progress and success. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics help track the effectiveness of strategies and tactics.
  • Continuous Improvement: The process of regularly reviewing and refining strategies and tactics based on performance data and changing circumstances.

Strategic clarity is essential for the cohesive and effective functionality of your bar, restaurant, or hotel business. This leadership approach ensures that all members understand and are aligned with the business’ identity, direction, purpose, and methods.

By achieving strategic clarity, organizations can navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and build upon sustainable long-term success. What we have found over the years that attributes to long-term clarity and success is a series of playbooks.

Understanding Plans and Playbooks

Let’s first dive into the critical distinction between a plan and a playbook, and why this matters for your bar, restaurant, or hotel. Understanding and utilizing both can significantly impact your business’ ability to start strong, stabilize effectively, and ultimately position you to scale successfully.

A traditional business plan, as you may know it, is a document that outlines your goals, and the steps you will take to achieve them. It’s often the number one consideration to secure funding and to set strategic direction.

However, it is, more often than not, missing plenty of crucial information, strategies, and guidance that end up planting a false sense of security.

A playbook, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive guide filled with detailed processes, best practices, and adaptable strategies tailored to your specific operations. Within this dynamic industry, you need more than a standard business plan if you want to be successful.

In fact, you should have eight different playbooks in place to position yourself within the top echelon of this industry.

The Power of Playbooks in Hospitality

While plans are often static or rigid (and often forgotten about shortly after they’re written), playbooks are designed to be flexible and adaptable.

Playbooks provide a step-by-step guide, ensure consistency and efficiency, and offer adaptable strategies and best practices to start, manage, and grow effectively.

Playbooks go into more granular details, and provide actionable steps. In this way, they’re notably different from a singular business plan.

The Eight Playbooks

No matter if you are operating a coffee shop, bar, restaurant or hotel (or any other concept within the hospitality industry), the following eight playbooks should be looked at as non-negotiables.

  1. Feasibility Study/Playbook: The foundational guide for assessing the viability of your hospitality business idea. It involves a comprehensive analysis of the market, competitive landscape, financial projections, and operational requirements. This playbook helps you determine whether your concept is realistic and profitable before committing significant resources.
  2. Concept Playbook: Focuses on refining your hospitality business idea into a clear and compelling concept. This playbook guides you through creating a unique value proposition, defining your target market, and outlining the core elements of your business, including service style, interior design, and internal programming.
  3. Prototype Playbook: A step-by-step guide to developing a tangible representation of your hospitality concept. This playbook helps you create a prototype that can be tested and refined before a full-scale launch. This playbook covers design specifications, operational workflows, fixtures/furniture/equipment, and detailed budgets.
  4. Brand Strategy & Identity Playbook: Defines the strategic approach to building and maintaining a strong brand. This playbook covers the creation of your brand identity, messaging, and positioning to ensure consistent and impactful brand communication. It involves color psychology, core values, mission statements, brand experiences, and more.
  5. Marketing Playbook: Outlines the strategies and tactics to attract, build, and retain your target guests. This playbook provides a roadmap for creating and executing effective marketing campaigns across various channels. It provides a step-by-step guide on content, social media management, database building, email marketing, partnerships, and community activations, along with detailed guest journey maps.
  6. Tech-stack Playbook: Provides guidance on selecting and implementing the correct technology solutions to enhance your hospitality operations. This playbook ensures that your technology infrastructure supports your business goals and improves efficiency. This playbook identifies technology gaps, software solutions, hardware requirements, and integration plans, plus training and support on technology.
  7. Financial Playbook: A comprehensive guide to manage your hospitality business’ finances. This playbook covers budgeting, financial forecasting, accounting practices, and financial performance analysis. It should highlight financial contingency plans, mock labor schedules, daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal traffic reports that align with the business, and financial objectives.
  8. Operational Playbook (a.k.a. Business Plan): Outlines the day-to-day operations in great detail, along with long-term strategies. This playbook ensures that all aspects of your operations are well-coordinated and aligned with your overall business goals, and the other seven playbooks. It should highlight standard operating procedures, labor plans, supply chain management, guest services, and measurable operational metrics.

You’ll notice there are seven other playbooks written before the business plan. Far too often, this is where people start. Without the other seven playbooks, it will be nearly impossible to craft a winning playbook for your day-to-day operations.

When Should You Use Playbooks

  • To Start: These eight playbooks are crucial to craft your success story right from the beginning. Build the foundations before signing a lease or purchasing a property.
  • To Stabilize: If you’re currently underperforming (profit margins under 12 percent for bars and restaurants, and under 15 percent for hotels), use playbooks to generate impactful results.
  • To Scale: These playbooks will help ensure that both your first locationand the next locationare prepared for consistent operations without diminishing your brand equity.

Strategic planning within detailed playbooks is essential for your hospitality business’ success.

Regardless of your current position, evaluate your use of business plans, and consider developing comprehensive playbooks instead. Make the time and commitment to achieving true clarity in your business, and position yourself to be on the correct side of this industry’s statistics.

AI image generator: DALL-E

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Entrepreneurship with Purpose

Entrepreneurship with Purpose: Your Why, How & What

by David Klemt

Black-and-gray, AI-generated image of a ram's skull covered partially by a shroud, with the word "death" underneath it

Don’t freak out! This is subtext, and a nod to the Death & Co. brand and their Big Horn Sheep cocktail mug.

Not every operator can transform their vision for owning a bar into building a hotel, so when someone who does just that wants to talk, it’s wise to listen.

I can’t be sure if the Death & Co. team knew they were building an empire when they opened their first cocktail bar. After listening to David Kaplan’s keynote at the 2024 Flyover Conference, I do believe the team laid the foundation to ensure their success before ever greeting their first guests.

Further, I like to think that opening in NYC on NYE and ushering in 2007 with a brand-new concept embodies the Death & Co. ethos. Literally, the bar and its first patrons marked the passage of time from one year to the next. Figuratively, death symbolizes change, and Death & Co. as a brand is certainly a metaphor for revolution and metamorphosis.

As a bar, Death & Co. is noteworthy for the significant contributions it made to the modern Cocktail Revival. Among the craft cocktail bar’s New York scene peers were Pegu Club, Milk & Honey, and Employees Only.

According to Kaplan, six years went by before the team even considered taking on a new location. In 2018, Death & Co. Denver opened inside The Ramble Hotel. A year later came Death & Co. Los Angeles. Four years after opening in LA, in 2023, the craft cocktail brand entered the Washington, DC, market. Announced a couple of weeks ago, there will be a fifth outpost in Seattle.

And those are just the Death & Co. locations.

Why, How & What

The type of unrelenting success achieved by the Death & Co. team doesn’t happen overnight. It takes drive and clarity, and a ruthless dedication to understanding purpose, process, and outcome.

Expanding on the point of clarity, Death & Co. falls under the Gin & Luck umbrella, of which Kaplan is the CEO.

During his keynote, titled “Crafting Success: The Journey of Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurship,” he shared his personal and professional approaches to business. Along with being engaging and informative, Kaplan is also transparent.

For example, he shared his personal core values and those of the Death & Co. brand. Kaplan’s are the pursuit of excellence, meaningful work, relationships, challenges, and creativity. As a brand, Death & Co. core values are curiosity, pursuit of excellence, Always Be Knowing (ABK), contagious joy, and connection.

But, I get ahead of myself. To start his keynote, Kaplan explained a few key terms and how they relate to one another. A person’s why, personal or professional, is their purpose for doing something. On a grander scale, their why can be the purpose that drives their entire life.

How is process, the systems and procedures that will move one forward. What, in this context, is outcome, or the result that a person is working to achieve.

As Kaplan explained, when one comes to understand their purpose, that leads them down the path of understanding and developing their process. Ultimately, understanding the why and how leads to an understanding of their what.

Do the Work

Among the excellent points made by Kaplan was this: None of us are born with an understanding of entrepreneurship (including those who make being an entrepreneur look so easy).

Rather, in Kaplan’s opinion, we’re all faking it until we make it. This goes for business partners and investors, as well. Basically, people who are faking it until they make it are walking into rooms with people who are doing the same, or have done so to get into a particular room themselves.

That doesn’t mean that every new business owner is being disingenuous. Nor does it mean that every partner is being deceitful about what they bring to the table.

In my interpretation of what Kaplan shared during his keynote, every entrepreneuruntil they’ve achieved their desired outcomeis an unknown quantity. They need to develop the confidence to share their vision clearly to their future leadership team, front- and back-of-house teams, partners, investors, and guests.

So, how does an entrepreneur develop an optimistic view of the challenges they’re about to face? And how do they gain the confidence to inspire others to buy into their ideas?

There are a number of exercises that will help a person understand their identity, path, and another “why.” Another way to state this is that one can find their true calling, take psychological ownership of their journey, and develop the entrepreneurial passion to make their dream a reality.

However, to gain this understanding, people need to put in the work.

Effective Exercises

If one works hard now, they can develop the psychological capital necessary to take on difficult challenges in the future.

In the context of Kaplan’s keynote, this means if a person works toward self-awareness today, they’ll put themselves in a better position to be a successful operator before they open their doors for the first time.

There are all manner of self-defining activities and questions that can help a person understand who they are. As importantly, they can give a person an idea of their true aspirations. A few examples are completing the University of Pennsylvania’s Values in Action Strength Test, practicing mindfulness (being present in the moment), journaling, and meditation.

As far as self-defining questions, here are a few examples:

  • What are my dreams and goals?
  • What’s my biggest strength?
  • What’s my biggest weakness?
  • Am I the type of person who makes decisions based on intuition or logic?

Again, that’s barely a handful of the questions one can ask themselves to gain self-awareness.

Another important exercise is to identify personal and professional core values. Kaplan recommends people do this in a setting outside of their normal routine. So, not at home, their current workplace, a cafe one frequents regularly, etc.

Core Values

When a client signs on with KRG Hospitality, part of the process includes identifying core values, as well as creating a mission statement. This important exercise is known as Napkinomics.

Questions and prompts include:

  • How important is growth to you, professionally and personally?
  • Where do you want to see the brand within the next five years?
  • Describe a similar brand, and why you’re drawn to it.

Helpfully, Kaplan shared his approach to identifying core values during his Flyover keynote.

First, he considers peak experiences. Then, crucially, he flips that on its head and recalls negative experiences. Another key step is considering important aspects to experiencing fulfillment. Ask yourself what feels essential, adding context to each answer. At the end of this exercise, one should have a list of personal core values. (As a reminder, Kaplan’s and Death & Co.’s core values are shared at the top of this article.)

There is, however, another step that Kaplan shared during his presentation: Revisiting core values.

As he said, a person canand I’ll add absolutely shouldrevisit their personal core values. They’ll likely change throughout the years. So, a person should update them from time to time.

Also, Kaplan advises people to give themselves grace; one should realize that they may not live their core values every day of the week. That’s perfectly acceptable. However, if someone finds that they’re routinely not living their core values, it’s time to revisit and update them.

The Mission

During his keynote Kaplan explained that a mission statement should encompass several key components. These are one’s skills and abilities, personality traits (a.k.a. how they operate), values, dreams, and passions.

A mission statement is a declaration of purpose, which is why it’s such a powerful tool. Again, we walk KRG Hospitality clients through this process utilizing Napkinomics.

During his keynote, Kaplan shared the following fill-in-the blanks-style sentence. It should provide someone with an idea of how to identify a personal or brand mission statement.

“I will [action] for [audience] by [skills] to [desired result].”

From there, one can polish and restructure the sentence to craft a non-negotiable declaration of purpose that fits them or their brand. For example, Kaplan shared Death & Co.’s mission statement:

“Creating experiences and connecting people through cocktail-anchored hospitality.”

Providing context, Kaplan shared a long-form version of the above: “We create experiences to foster and allow for deeper human connection through cocktail anchored hospitality.”

With the mission statement in place, Kaplan, his partners, and the Death & Co. team have been able to identify and work toward a key goal:

“To become the most established cocktail-anchored hospitality company in the world by December 31, 2028.” For the eagle-eyed, that’s a deadline of 20 years after the NYC bar’s grand opening.

Now, “most established” can be seen as somewhat nebulous. So, the Death & Co. team has identified metrics to ensure their lofty goal is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound):

  • A great place to work.
  • The thought leader in the space (being part of the overall hospitality conversation, and helping lead others).
  • A healthy, profitable business.
  • Regionally and globally recognized.

Tie it Together

Considering the symbolism of death as change, you and your team are undergoing a metamorphosis.

Taking the steps to pull your concept out of your imagination and bring it to life involves change. Changing your personal relationships, your position within the hospitality industry, your relationship with risk… Changing your life, and significantly so.

Furtherno pressureyou’re also transforming the lives of everyone who buys into your dream and decides to work with you. You’re asking people to bet on you as a leader, and buy into your vision. Whoever accepts that challenge is risking a lot, and this cannot be overstated.

Keeping your business alive and moving forward also requires change. It will have to evolve with the times and guest expectations. And should you scale your business you’ll once again face significant changes.

Becoming an entrepreneur requires the “death” of your previous life. In the infancy of this process, you’re going to feel discomfort. You may feel fear, and you’ll feel uncertainty. A deep understanding of why, how, and what are crucial to navigate the process and work through those feelings.

After all, if you don’t know what you’re working toward, why would you endure this challenge? How will you achieve your “what” if you haven’t developed the process to get there? And without a “why,” no entrepreneur’s vision becomes reality.

There’s no reason to fear the death of your life prior to the beginning of your journey as an entrepreneur and operator. The only things to fear are never taking the first step, and not starting off in the strongest position possible.

Sit down today to identify your why, your how, and your what. If you need help, we’re here for you.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

Interested in checking out the Death & Co. Big Horn Sheep cocktail mug? Click here.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

New Review Platform Rejects Negativity

It’s Good: New Review Platform Rejects Negativity

by David Klemt

"Just be nice" sign on wall with graffiti

Combine equal parts incredible team of founders, love for food and travel, and respect for an expression that we should all adhere to more closely, and you get a new review platform.

The expression from which this team derives their platform’s ethos?

“If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say it at all.” But how can a review platform embody that age-old expression?

Well, it turns out that answer is rather simple: by refusing to allow negative reviews. That’s the foundation of how It’s Good plans to operate.

That is, of course, quite the departure from Yelp, Google Reviews, Tripadvisor, and other review platforms. In my experience, Yelp draws the ire of most operators. Obviously, it doesn’t help Yelp’s reputation among operators that people can review bomb a venue rather easily, among other issues.

On It’s Good, there’s no “star” ratings system. Negative comments? The platform is “not even built for” those, according to co-founder John Legend.

“Either you recommend [a place or experience] or you don’t,” says Legend, elaborating further on It’s Good.

The team of founders also includes Kevin Auerbach (who comes from Apple), Meghan Raab (from Snap), and director and photographer Mike Rosenthal.

With Auerbach and Raab guiding what is likely a top-notch engineering team, It’s Good should be simple and fun to use.

The User Experience

At the moment, It’s Good is an invite-only platform. According to articles online, Legend and Rosenthal have been working on the app for four years.

So, the initial idea is to lay the user foundation ahead of its public launch. Logical, since it would be challenging to sift through recommendations without a core user group populating the app first.

“Our mission is to be your go-to place for saving & sharing your most favorite places to eat and drink. Trustworthy recommendations for you, by you – from the people you know or admire, all in one beautiful space,” reads the waitlist confirmation email I received from Shirene Niksadat, It’s Good head of community.

Interestingly, one of the motivating factors behind this platform is Legend himself. Apparently, he’s a go-to source for recommendations amongst his friends.

“My friends always reach out to me for ‘my list’ of restaurants in the cities I’ve visited,” Legend is quoted as saying on the It’s Good website.

From what I can gather, the platform will allow people to find new restaurants, bars, and experiences via location-based and themed lists. I’m sure there’s more functionality, but the main takeaways are:

  • organized recommendations;
  • personalized recommendations from trusted sources and friends; and
  • recommendations that answer a simple question: Is this place or experience good?

“We believe a restaurant rec from 1 trusted friend is more valuable than recs from 10,000 strangers,” says the It’s Good site, right at the top.

That should give us all an idea of how this platform will operate, and what to expect when it goes live for the general public.

Obviously, I can’t provide a review of this review platform. But I can say that I’m looking forward to my opportunity to take it for a spin.

To get your name on the waitlist, click here.

Image: A A on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hospitality Mindset: Hotel Edition

Hospitality Mindset: Hotel Edition

by Jennifer Radkey

Red neon "hotel" sign in Copenhagen

Mindset can dictate one’s level of happiness but what some people don’t realize is that it also impacts their business and everyone in it.

Moods like happiness or hostility. Growth or fixed worldviews. Positivity versus negativity. For operators and leadership team members, mindset doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, one’s attitude affects and influences staff, guests, and others.

So what is mindset exactly?

Simply stated, mindset is an individual’s usual attitude or mental state. It reflects someone’s way of thinking and motivates their actions. So, why is it important to be aware of your mindset?

Well, if your mindset dictates how you show up in your life each and every day, it will influence all parts of your life.

Your thoughts about yourself, others, your business, your opportunities and your challenges… All influenced by your mindset. Your mindset can either hinder or promote your overall well-being and success in life.

The interesting thing about mindset is that it has the ability to changeif you want. It can also be influenced by your environment and those around you. These facts led me to question if the different sectors of the hospitality industry face unique mindset challenges.

To find answers and gain further insight I decided to turn to our team at KRG Hospitality for their thoughts. In turn, I’ve written a series of hospitality mindset articles. To read the first entry in this series, the Bar Edition, please click here.

In this article I’ll explore the hotel industry, with thoughts from hospitality consultant Kim Richardson. Follow the series as I explore mindset in restaurants, hotels, bars, and start-up operations.

Let’s dive in!

The Hotel Industry

The hotel industry is vast and can be segmented into different sectors. These sectors include: lodging and accommodation, food and beverage, travel and tourism, entertainment and recreation, and timeshare and meetings.

Not only is the industry vast in its sectors, there are an array of categories. There are motels, inns and resorts, and independent, boutique and global brands. Budget, midscale, and luxury properties, and everything in between.

Different types of hotels will vary slightly in their management styles and success challenges, but most will share common mindset themes.

Successful Operators

Operating a successful hotel takes a certain mindset. You need to be organized, open-minded to growth strategies, mindful of your sectors and how they interact with each other, and responsive to the needs of your teams.

Curious about what makes one hotel stand above another, I asked Kim what contributes to a successful operator. She responded with the perspective of a general manager of a large hotel, and then from the perspective of an owner of a small boutique hotel.

“One thing that really sets the hotel world aside from the rest of the hospitality industry is the multiple facets of the different departments,” says Kim. “You’re essentially running several businesses inside of one business. All of these different departments’ successes and failures impact the other departments. I think it’s important for operators and general managers to truly have a pulse on what’s going on throughout the building and, more importantly, when a department has a success or failure, how the other departments contributed to that.”

When it comes to smaller boutique hotels or inns, Kim believes that “the ability to wear many hats and jump in as needed” is a crucial success skill for owners as they often work with a much smaller team and may need to be more hands on. Hand in hand with the ability to multi-task and wear many hats is having excellent time management skills.

Whether you are the GM of a large hotel or an owner of a small boutique hotel, it is essential to constantly “have a pulse on the business coming in the door.”

Operator Challenges

Operators need a positive, strategic, growth mindset to be successful in the hotel industry. This is a mindset that needs to be consistently cultivated, as there are challenges that will affect your daily thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

When asked what specific challenges hotel operators face that may affect their mindset, Kim shared her thoughts, again from the perspectives of a large hotel GM and that of a smaller boutique hotel owner.


Being responsible for and held accountable to all levels of positions in your establishment can be exhausting, stressful, and frustrating.

“A general manager of a hotel has a lot of people to answer to. They have people above them in corporate making demands of them on a daily basis (budgets, goals, etc.). They have staff that they employ and need to keep happy. They have guests they need to keep happy,” Kim says. “With this many responsibilities, time management alone can be stressful. Finding a happy medium is close to impossible. Not every decision you make is going to please all three parties. This position can suffer from burnout just as much as the rest of their team.”


Operators of boutique hotels and inns fall into danger of taking on too much themselves while feeling the success of their venue lies entirely on their shoulders.

Burnout, fear, and exhaustion are all possibilities in this situation.

“In a small boutique hotel, the owner and operator wears many hats,” says Kim. “They are often having to jump in and run many departments. If you’re short staffed in one area, you’re going to have to jump in. This can create a situation where you’re spending so much time working in the business that you struggle to work on growing the business. The overall stress of the success of the business is much more when you own your own hotel. Competing against big hotels with larger marketing budgets and known names can be a challenge.” 

Employee Challenges

Your team also experiences their own unique set of challenges that can affect their well-being and mindset.

Being aware of these challenges is important if you hope to create a culture of respect, collaboration, and trust.

When asked what specific challenges hotel staff face, Kim had some insights.

On Demand

It’s no secret that the hotels operate in a 24-hour industry. No matter what time of day or night, a hotel never truly “sleeps.” This on-demand atmosphere can be stressful for your team.

“Since the building is open 24 hours, guests tend to think you are also available 24 hours,” Kim says. “There is always the possibility that you could get a call at any time when you’re not working. Not only does the guest perceive you as always available, some managers expect the same from you, too.”

Broken Telephone

Working in a 24-hour environment means that you may not always be working with the same people every shift. In establishments with several departments, you may never have direct interaction with a lot of your team.

This can all lead toward miscommunication, frustration, and blame.

“Communication can fall short,” explains Kim. “There can be people who work in other departments that you are never in the building with at the same time. There are typically many procedures in place to communicate between departments, but things still get missed.”

Harmful Beliefs in the Hotel Industry

How you feel about the people you work with and/or work for can have major impacts on your overall mindset.

If your daily thoughts regarding your team are negative, it suddenly becomes very challenging to create a successful hotel. Why would they be excited to come to work and proud of your hotel if their efforts are only ever met with negativity?

The hotel industry has a few specific, common harmful beliefs that are prevalent in many establishments. Being aware and knowing how to acknowledge and combat these beliefs is crucial to creating a more positive work environment.


When I asked Kim what one of the most prevalent harmful beliefs operators harbor about their teams, she discussed the assumptions that are often made.

“I think proprietors sometimes think that what they’re asking is easy and doable,” posits Kim. “When a business is not doing well they tend to look at the quality of their staff versus quality of the processes.”

Assumptions without clarity or reason can be extremely harmful to your workplace culture. Not only are operators holding assumptions about their team, but their team holds assumptions about leadership.

Staff often feel that operators and members of the leadership team are out of touch with the reality of their market, and that they place unrealistic expectations on them. There are assumptions made that leadership does not want them to succeed personally.

“Revenue goals are increased just because they want more money but haven’t put thought into whether or not it’s attainable to make the money,” says Kim. “Operators don’t want to see people get bonuses, so in turn they raise goals. Doing well one year will only hurt you in the next year because all goals will be raised. Staff feel overworked and underpaid, leading them to believe that ownership is cheap and always giving a two-person job to one person.”

Toxic Culture

The last thing that any hospitality business needs is a toxic culture. A toxic workplace culture encourages and breeds negative mindsets on all levels.

How can you be successful if your team dreads coming in for their daily shift?

I asked Kim what can create toxic culture in a hotel, and she shared her thoughts and experiences.

“One of the biggest challenges that I always felt in hotels is the divide amongst departments. It’s very similar to the front-of-house, back-of-house animosity that often exists in restaurants,” shares Kim. “One department always feels that another department was not mindful of how their decisions impact their department. What I came to realize is sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not.  There’s always going to be that person who decided to make the decision that was best for their day or made them look good in accomplishing their own job.”

“However, I don’t think that is the intention of most people,” continues Kim. “With so many different types of roles in a hotel, you will never understand all of the inner workings of another department. Each department has to make the decision that best accomplishes their goal for the guest and their department. When the communication breaks down between departments and there is no understanding of how they impact each other, animosity is created.”

Moving Forward

Understanding the challenges that operators and staff are currently facing and acknowledging the importance of a growth mindset and the need for change, what positive changes have been occurring in the industry as a whole?

“Some hotels have increased wages. Some have been more open to hybrid positions of remote and on-property work since the pandemic,” Kim says. “However, there are some that are now trying to do away with those. Also, there are only a few departments in the hotel that can benefit from this as many of them need to be on property to do their jobs.”

“Overall, I haven’t seen a ton of change. There are still so many people struggling with work-life balance in the hospitality industry,” Kim continues. “I just talked to a friend the other day who has told me for years that she’s a lifer in hotels and she’s never going anywhere. She is the last person I thought I’d hear this from, but she’s feeling burnout and is not sure how much longer she can last. This is someone who is excellent at their job. Really understands the business, is a hard worker, team player, willing to go the extra mile. How many people do we find like that, that we are throwing away by putting unachievable standards on?”

Room for Improvement

Although some operators are becoming more aware of the well-being of those working in this industry, there are still many changes that need to happen. Kim believes that there are three simple changes that need to happen.

“We need to stop losing people that want to be lifers over things like burnout and lack of work-life balance. Genuine gratitude and respect from superiors goes a long way. Better communication and accountability are a must,” says Kim.

Final Thoughts

Hotels are a complex entity with many moving parts. It takes a strategic and positive mindset to ensure success and a happy work environment.

The reality is that there will always be challenges that will affect your thoughts and behaviors. You will have bad days but that is all they are: bad days.

It is the leader who can recognize these setbacks as temporary and use them to fuel their mindset towards making positive change who will come out on top.

I’ll leave you with a few last words of wisdom from KRG Hospitality hotel and restaurant consultant Kim Richardson.

“When guests come to stay at a hotel, it is their home for the duration they are there. They are there much longer than grabbing a cup of coffee or a night out to dinner. They can feel the demeanor of the staff,” says Kim. “Positive work environments exude happiness for the guests. When the employees are unhappy, the guests leave unhappy. Mindset can be contagious, and while the internal feelings trickle down to the guests, it starts way before that. If a positive energy is being given off from the leaders in the building, it can have a great impact on the staff, which then impacts the guests.

Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Marten Bjork on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Mindset Coaching, 2023 Icon

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our engaging and informative May book selections will take your front and back of house to the next level, and help develop your leadership skills.

To review the book recommendations from April 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Contagious You: Unlock Your Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want

This is one of three books KRG Hospitality’s Jennifer Radkey read in February. It’s the sequel to a book titled Contagious Culture, which we featured last month.

From Amazon: “For anyone who’s sought to create change, or felt sucked into the drama and chaos of a toxic work environment, this book will advance the notion that everyone at an organization is a leader—for good or for bad—and that leaders have tremendous power to influence those who follow their example. The quality of our leadership is based upon our intentions, energy, and presence. By emphasizing authorship, self-care, and response-ability (not responsibility) as leadership skills and therefore cultural amplifiers, Contagious You shows you how to walk the path of more effective leadership while navigating the road blocks in your way. Whether these road blocks are working with negative co-workers with secret agendas and unrealistic expectations, or just the general ‘busyness’ of life and its excessive demands, this book will take you on a journey to create more space, more courageous leadership, and stronger collaboration to influence others and create the impact you desire.”

Grab this book today: click here.

Chef’s PSA: Culinary Leadership Fundamentals

If Chef’s PSA sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s a series of four books. We included another book in the series, How Not to be the Biggest Idiot in the Kitchen, last December in our last book roundup of 2022.

Culinary Leadership Fundamentals is intended to prepare chefs to lead a brigade. It’s one thing to know how to prepare food; it’s another to know how to be the leader in the kitchen. Of course, this book is also full of valuable information for owners and operators. After all, they should know how their chef is approaching their role.

From Amazon: “When you become a Chef for the first time you may be put in a position where you know how to cook but not how to lead and manage. This book will teach you everything you need to know to become a Chef Leader in the kitchen. From how to manage costs, build a team, market yourself and overcome adversity. This is the book every Chef needs if they want a competitive edge in running a successful kitchen.”

Pick it up today!

Southern Cooking, Global Flavors

Chef Kenny Gilbert’s journey through the culinary world is epic. By the age of seven he had shown such an interest in the art of BBQ that his father bought him his first grill, a small Weber. After high school he moved from his hometown to Cleveland to attend the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. After graduation, Chef Gilbert entered into an apprenticeship at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, in Florida. By age 23, Chef Gilbert earned the role of Chef de Cuisine. He has also opened restaurants and led the culinary programs at restaurants and hotel properties not only throughout Florida but also Colorado, Georgia, throughout the Caribbean, France, Japan, and Spain. Oh, and there was Chef Gilbert’s Top Chef season seven appearance, plus the development of his own line of spices and rubs.

His newly released book features 100 recipes that put international spins on southern classics. Pick up Southern Cooking, Global Flavors today!

The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts

We’ve addressed the need to compliment your cocktail menu with a dedicated ice program. This book, available now for pre-order, is from world-renowned cocktail and spirits writer Camper English. Not only does it include easy-to-follow instructions for you and your bar team to elevate your cocktail program, from full-proof to zero-ABV drinks. The Ice Book, then, is aptly titled—it’s everything you need to introduce a memorable drinking experience.

From Amazon: “In The Ice Book, internationally renowned cocktail icepert Camper English details how to use directional freezing to make perfectly pure ice in a home freezer, carve it up into giant diamonds and other shapes, and embed it with garnishes, including edible orchids and olives. You’ll learn how to create a frozen bowl for Negroni punch, serve a Manhattan inside an ice sphere, and infuse cubes with colors and flavors to create cranberry cobblers, a color-changing Gin and Tonic, and other awesome drinks.”

The Book of Cocktail Ratios: The Surprising Simplicity of Classic Cocktails

Long-time subscribers to KRG Hospitality’s newsletters and readers of our articles know that I love a controversial take on cocktails. Take, for instance, the origin of the Margarita. Well, the opening sentence from the description for The Book of Cocktail Ratios certainly got my attention.

From Amazon: “Did you know that a Gimlet, a Daiquiri, and a Bee’s Knees are the same cocktail? As are a Cosmopolitan, a Margarita, and a Sidecar. When hosting a party wouldn’t you enjoy saying to your guests, ‘Would you care for a Boulevardier, perhaps, or a Negroni?’ These, too, are the same cocktail, substituting one ingredient for another. Or if you’d like to be able to shake up a batch of whiskey sours for a party of eight in fewer than two minutes, then read on.

As Michael Ruhlman explains, our most popular cocktails are really ratios—proportions of one ingredient relative to the others. Organized around five of our best-known, beloved, classic families of cocktails, each category follows a simple ratio from which myriad variations can be built: The Manhattan, The Gimlet, The Margarita, The Negroni, and the most debated cocktail ever, The Martini.”

This book should provide you and your bar team with a totally different perspective when it comes to drink ratios. Pre-order your copy today!

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality advanced bar education

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

Loneliness and the Entrepreneur

5 Steps Entrepreneurs can take to Combat Loneliness

by Jennifer Radkey

Empty road leading off to the horizon

Author John Donne may have penned the quote, “No man is an island,” in the 17th century but, like many truths of human nature, it’s still relevant today.

We’re all attached to each other in some way; our humanity is intertwined. It’s when we lose sight of this that we may start to feel lonely. We may also feel as though we’re in isolation from the world around us.

Entrepreneurs often walk a lonely road. The success of your business relies on the effort you put into it daily. With a drive to succeed and a passion for what you are doing, it can often be hard to separate life as an entrepreneur from anything else.

There can be a level of pride in the entrepreneur’s journey that makes it challenging to acknowledge that there’s genuine struggle. When society paints a rosy picture of the life of the entrepreneur—setting your own schedule, doing what you love, earning your own riches, etc.—it can feel as if you aren’t doing something “right” when you’re running a successful business yet feel stress, loneliness, and gloom.

Being an entrepreneur has its perks and many would tell you they can’t imagine doing anything other than running their own business. However, this doesn’t mean that the path is easy or without its risks of social isolation, anxiety, burnout, and depression.

It’s time that we acknowledge all aspects of being an entrepreneur—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to peel back the façade of perfection. We need to allow space for honesty, connection, and self-care.

Below are five steps entrepreneurs can take to combat loneliness as an entrepreneur.

1. Find like-minded individuals who can relate.

Often, entrepreneurs may feel as if no one else understands them, no matter how well-meaning or supportive friends and family may be.

Connect with people who you can be honest with and who will listen with little judgement. This can be through a social group that connects entrepreneurs not for the purpose of business growth and networking, but to build friendships and share stories.

If a group like this does not exist, consider starting one yourself.

2. Practice mindfulness with your external relationships.

 Share with loved ones when you’re feeling particularly disconnected or stressed. They may not understand life as an entrepreneur, but they have your best interest at heart and can help you find balance between your work life and personal life.

Finding time to spend with the people who care for you as a whole person is important. Doing so can remind you to acknowledge and respect all the different sides of who you are, not just the entrepreneur side.

3. Learn how to be in a healthy relationship with yourself.

Acknowledge when you need social time. Recognize when you’re not getting enough sleep. Take time to enjoy hobbies or participate in physical activity. Take time to appreciate your accomplishments and feel proud of what you achieve.

Try journaling or participating in the things you loved doing before you became an entrepreneur to create connections and feel less alone.

4. Share the burden.

As an entrepreneur you often quietly place a tremendous amount of responsibility onto your shoulders. This can lead to feeling entirely on your own—even if you have a team surrounding you.

Learn to place trust in your team and to release some of those responsibilities to others. If you are a solopreneur, perhaps look to other professionals to whom you can outsource some of your tasks ( virtual assistant, social marketer, etc.).

5. Seek professional help if needed.

If you feel alone in the process and don’t have anyone you feel you can speak to, consider seeking a professional to help.

Consider hiring a professional life coach If you’re looking to create stronger social connections; need help with work/life balance or stress management; or wish to manage external relationships better.

If you suspect a mental illness, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, reach out to a registered therapist. There’s no shame in asking for help if it means living a well-rounded life that’s successful not only professionally but personally.

Entrepreneurs are masters of paving the way for their visions to come to life. However, the road they pave doesn’t need to be a lonely one. Applying the same drive to your personal well-being as to the success of your business will only have positive outcomes!

Cheers to your personal and professional growth!

Image: Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash