A Note From The President

Hope IS a Strategy

Thom Geshay

January 22, 2021

Thom Geshay Headshot

Thom Geshay

There was a popular business book written and published in 2001 by author Rick Page that was titled “Hope is NOT a Strategy.” Rick is not an expert on general business, but rather he’s a recognized authority on the subject of complex sales. The subtitle of the book was, “6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale.” Using a straightforward, no-nonsense approach, Page walks the reader through very strategic and practical concepts that lead to better sales. He demonstrates how understanding the client’s needs are at the heart of a successful sale process. Once you understand their needs and qualify them as a prospect, you can then show them how you (or your product) can create value for them, differentiate your product in the marketplace, define the prospect’s decision-making process, then develop a communication strategy that links your organization to theirs to become an invaluable partner. While that sales process can be complex, his message was simple; the only way to be consistently successful in selling is to have a very prescriptive strategy that leaves no room for chance and thus HOPE is not necessary, rather it’s all about the plan.

This book quickly caught fire and ended up on the NY Times Best Selling list. Rick Page became one of the most sought-after speakers and sales trainers in the world. He delivered his 6-step method to thousands of professionals in hundreds of companies across more than 50 countries around the globe. The phrase “hope is not a strategy” became the buzz-phrase in every sales office, bull-pen and boardroom around the world, essentially giving the concept of HOPE a bad rap in the workplace.

Fast forward to today. With RevPAR down 47.5% for US Hotels, 2020 was empirically the worst year ever recorded for hoteliers, according to STR. A global pandemic is still very active with cases still rising in some regions. Many hotels have been closed for almost a year and cannot yet plan to reopen. And the leisure and hospitality business ended 2020 down 4 million jobs. Let me ask you something; When COVID-19 hit last March, what would have been the perfectly prescriptive strategy that left no margin for chance and didn’t include HOPE?

Well, Rick Page is considered an authority in business, and I’m just a simple hotel guy, but I’m going to challenge his concept that HOPE doesn’t have a place in the working world. Now, I love a well thought out strategic plan more than I can articulate here, but what I’m suggesting is that adding HOPE to every strategic plan, is good for creating positive momentum, getting us through difficult times and perpetuating a positive corporate culture.

Let me illustrate my point:

  • When it was announced that the US and other countries were shutting down in March of 2020, we immediately began to work on our relaunch plans, and we HOPED the pandemic would not be as severe as its ultimately become. That HOPE got us through the early days and weeks.
  • When we started to see cases rise, we HOPED that nobody we knew would contract COVID-19. We took all the precautions to be safe, but that HOPE got us through some anxious times.
  • When we presented our relaunch plans to our owners and asset managers, despite all the thought, effort and detail that went into them, we HOPED that our owners would understand and appreciate the circumstances. That HOPE gave us motivation to get through some very difficult meetings.
  • When we started taking guests again at our hotels after putting into place new, well thought-out SOPs, safety and cleanliness protocols and maniacally using PPE, we HOPED our guests would appreciate the effort and feel safe in our hotels. That HOPE validated all the work.
  • And forgetting COVID impact; at any point in time in our business, when a sales team prepares a thoughtful contract to secure a new piece of business, or the Business Development team makes a sophisticated pitch for an exciting new deal, or the F&B team opens a new concept restaurant after months of careful planning, or a hotel executes a creative activation to delight guests…once all the work, thought and planning has been done…and its time to execute…don’t we all have an exciting feeling of anticipation? Maybe some butterflies in our stomach, where our eyebrows raise and the corners of our mouth slowly turn upward as we eagerly anticipate the decision/reaction/response/praise of that target audience? That feeling, my friends, is HOPE. HOPE that all the hard work, strategic thinking, planning, long hours and risk taking will pay off with a win!

So, I applaud the success of Rick Page, who went on to write another best-selling book, “Make Winning a Habit”. But respectfully, I now think the concept of his first book was not entirely on track. I’d like to suggest the following; HOPE alone is not a strategy. But adding HOPE to every strategy, helps get us through the anxious moments and times, when we need a little push and affirmation that all the strategic effort will ultimately pay off. HOPE, my Davidson family, is a good thing.