Innovation is a buzzword today and has been so in the past few decades.

This post discusses why proper innovation management is extremely important for all hospitality industry businesses especially in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We believe that innovation management in the hospitality industry has hitherto remained the most difficult and under-explored topic.

What is innovation management?

Before we get on to innovation management, we need to know the definition of innovation? You hear it all the time. We describe new advancements in industries as being “innovative.”

But what exactly is innovation, why is it so important, and how can you be innovative?

In short, innovation in business terms is creating something new that has a market and can be monetised.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Innovation can thus be through a change in existing product or process or via a new product and process. It often refers to making something more efficient or effective than what the industry previously had. Across the board, it denotes something better than earlier versions.

A lot of innovative hospitality products have amazed us in the past and various excellent hospitality innovation are coming up with the great potential to delight customers and in the process, help hospitality businesses achieve competitive advantages.

It may mean that the business is more productive or performs better than its competitors. For hospitality businesses here is how we can describe innovation and its management:

  • Innovation is described as a new idea, a new process, a new method, or product. Innovation is the entire process it takes for us to come up with a product, and those ideas and processes that lead up to the product. Without innovation, this process would just be an invention.
  • Innovation management is when we manage these innovations. This involves a series of processes that focus on the product of innovation and organisation of innovation. There are a few things that it includes and makes it up. There are also different steps that are involved in the process.
  • In most cases, effective innovation management can open up a new market for customer needs with monetary benefits attached to itself.
  • Innovation management is presenting these new key ideas and thoughts, putting them to work and working in a positive way bringing to light a new product that consumers want and need.

When you’re capable of putting all these things together and coming up with new and creative ideas to help the company grow and expand, this is a form of innovation management.

You are allowing the company to move forward and presented with new consumer needs that can help a company continue to build profits.

However, even beyond the expansion of products and profits, it’s also making a positive impact towards and with the consumers.

The process of innovation management

There are a few different methods in which this can be achieved.

Catalysts of innovation and creativity and effective understanding of cycle help in the process of innovation management.

In one of these methods, we take what we already have and work on those which can lead to new and existing ideas to be taken even further through incremental innovation.

The other method involves finding of ‘customer needs’ not being met till now and using innovative techniques to offer them and proactively focus on the products to make the customers happier.

With so many competitors out there, it’s important that this is a cycle that is worked on and built upon to keep from being overtaken.

Managers have to learn how to cut back on the time it takes to deliver a product or service all without sacrificing the quality of the product and its outcome.

The company comes together with creativity, innovation and learns how to come up with new ideas and methods to do things and so forth.

When these things go hand in hand successfully, management is then capable of coming together and forming new ideas, working on products, and expand to work with other firms and corporations to get more projects and produce an economic stimulus.

A large part of innovation will also be the technology departments working together to further their knowledge and how to make things work more smoothly and better.

The why and how of managing innovation article in Harvard Business Review by Gary Hamel explores this academically and comprehensively.

How can we manage innovation in the hospitality industry?

Managing innovation is some work and some brainstorming. Maybe much more than that.

Here are some suggestions that can help in innovation management by hospitality businesses to stay ahead of the competition:

  1. Know your market’s current environment and look for needs or desires that are not being filled or not being filled adequately. This allows you to find areas that are in need of innovation.
  2. Develop a plan to respond to that need. Take a look at the current solutions or how a solution can be adapted to fit a new need.
  3. Think creatively. Some of the best and most influential ideas in the world were created by those who simply took time to step outside of the box and think differently. Don’t let your list of solutions be controlled by what the market already has or already does.
  4. Look for outside help. Sometimes, the person with the idea that will change the industry isn’t actually inside that industry. Seek advice not just from people inside your industry, but throughout the market. Hospitality Consultants would be of great help in providing out of the box solution.

A quick description of how to manage innovation can be found in the below image by GAEU which provides great insights on innovation processes.

The larger scope of innovation management in the hospitality

Innovation management does not simply mean that we have invented something new and we go with the process of maximum monetization of the same.

On the contrary, it often means that we have taken something old and adapted it so that it functions in a new way, whether that is faster, smarter, or less expensive.

So, for hospitality, the key innovation would still hover around providing exemplary service and facilities.

In the business world, innovations often mean better products and services, at lower prices. It indicates creativity, especially in problem-solving.

This is why innovation management is so important.

Hospitality Entrepreneurs should constantly be looking for ways to innovate, as it allows them to offer a better product or service, at a lower cost, to both the consumer and the businesses.

Innovation Management is the key to staying competitive, especially in a very competitive market like the hospitality and travel industry.

Finding the problems that consumers are currently having and looking for creative ways to solve those problems will make sure that you stay ahead of your competition.

Why is innovation important for your business?

Why is innovation important? Can’t businesses get along just fine without innovation? 

We have already tried to answer this earlier in our post regarding why your business needs innovation. The answers to these questions are not difficult on their own, but they do vary based on several variables, like location, industry and whatever competition a business may face.

Experts believe that in the current era, organisations are not run by men and machinery, but through creativity and innovation.

In the past, many companies were able to survive with a limited amount of innovation. What they would do normally is to focus on providing quality products and simply update them to a point that maintains their competitiveness in the market.

This method still applies to some products with long life-cycle and few opportunities for innovation. A good example of this would be PVC piping or steel rods or cement. You can always come up with different chemical blends or designs, but other than that it’s still just a form of a pipe or a rod or cement,  – there’s not much to do with that.

But, we are all obsessed with services now like the hospitality and travel industry.

Information technology seems to be the show stopper in almost all business. The internet world is changing almost every second. Think about innovations around us.

So if you are not building pipes, bricks, cement, bottles etc, you need to be breathing innovation. Not to be unfair to pipes, bricks and other commodities; even they now thrive on regular innovation.

The need of the hour is not only product-based innovation but the process-driven ones. Think about innovation in sales, marketing, positioning and design. Innovation brings excitement to team members, consumers and stakeholder. There are countless reasons to innovate with increased profit being a potent reason to give us all the drive to push for innovation.

Final words

Companies, universities and research focus groups, all contribute towards better and effective innovation management. This has helped in the formation of innovation clusters which act like role models to rest of the world.

We all know ‘Silicon valley’ as IT innovation hub while ‘Amsterdam’ is a hub for flowers of all varieties. ‘Cambridge innovation cluster’ is another innovation management agglomeration to enlighten innovation managers globally.

We have heard a lot about innovation in various forms. All firms are innovating regularly. Still, a few firms are better than their competitors.

Do they have some secret sauce while they cook their growth strategies? The key question is how to reap the benefits of innovation through effective innovation management.

Hope this post was useful for carrying out subtle improvements to your hospitality business and hope it helped you get a better understanding of innovation management.

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