Find your passion

Working in a business you don’t enjoy, especially when it’s your own can be soul destroying enough in its own right, but it’s bound to impact on your customers too. If you’ve no passion for your hospitality or leisure business and share no common interests with your customers isn’t it time to do something about it?

Whenever anything went wrong or when confronted with something that was unpleasant my mother always used to say “life’s too short”. Unfortunately in her case it was, and she died at the age of 65. My dad outlived her by nearly 17 years, but sadly died at last year aged 81.

But both of them thankfully spent their latter years doing things that they had a real passion for. Whilst I was at university Mum also went back to school, to train as a psychiatric nurse. She later went on to work in young people’s psychiatric unit and used to come home with stories of playing football with teenage boys, dealing with anorexic girls and other troubled youngsters in the hope of giving them a better chance in adult life. My dad, having initially trained as an architect and then working as an interior designer had always had a passion for vintage cars and for the last 30 years pursued his hobby of restoring his own and others’ cars and frequently worked long into the night in his workshop. And at his funeral people came from far and wide with their cars that he’d worked on over years.

So what have I learnt from my parents about running a business?

Nearly every book on marketing, whether for hotel, hospitality, or restaurant businesses, or any other type of business, will remind you that you need to identify your target market and offer something that meets their needs. But what if when you analyse this you identify a group of people or a product or service which leaves you cold? Would you want these people at your funeral? I know my dad would have been delighted to see so many of his happy customers turn out in his honour.

Working with your perfect guest or customer and the services and products you offer should really excite you. If it doesn’t, it’s bound to have a knock-on effect on the perception of customer service and certainly impact your bottom line. But if it doesn’t excite you why would you want to be doing it anyway?

So in an ideal world you want to be dealing with people with whom you share interests, values or enthusiasm. So how do we find the ideal customers?

Start by listing what you enjoy, what you’re passionate about, what’s important to you. Can these be incorporated into your hotel or hospitality business? If your business reflects your interests the likelihood is you’ll attract other people who share them. You’re more likely to be able to build rapport with them, and you can be more targeted (and successful) with your marketing, both externally and on-site.

Create your values around what is important to you. If it’s important to you to sustainable resources, or care for the environment, or to use fresh, local ingredients when available, create your values around these principles.

If like my dad you have a passion or particular hobby, is this something that you can incorporate into the business in some way. In Dad’s case it was vintage cars, but it could be anything that you’re interested in – be that golf or gardening, shopping or skydiving, woodwork or walking. Your passion should really influence what you offer; whether you focus on just one of your passions or a number passions, it’s a combination of these that add up to make your hotel or hospitality business different. You’ll find it easier to share detail of your real passions, which will not only make your hotel or hospitality business stand out, but attract like-minded guests.

One way of really capitalising on your interests and capture the interest of your guests or customers is to become an expert in something that they and you are interested in. In addition to attracting the type of guests or customers with whom you can build a good rapport and a better prospect of repeat business, it also gives you a great opportunity to get noticed. By writing articles, blog posts, guidebooks or maybe even organising clubs or seminars around your interests or topic, you’ll be on the radar of people who share your interests, which in turn enables you to build your prospect list. It also provides a great opportunity for PR.

Focusing on a specific interest could also involve promoting or writing about events, or organising your own events, and opens up opportunities for joint ventures or partnerships with other businesses, clubs or organisations who share your target audience. What better way to get yourself noticed?

Any of these ways of tying in your interests into your business not only enables you to enjoy what you do and who you work with, but is a great way of being unique and really standing out from your competition. If you have a very niche interest it will translate into a very niche target market.

It’s never too late to start focusing on what you love and where your passions lie. Life’s too short not to.

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