Embracing Unlearning: The Key to Real Innovation and Optimisation

Many people say that you should never stop learning new things, but what about never stopping to unlearn outdated knowledge?

Take a minute to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How often do you take apart your business practices to evaluate what is necessary and what is obsolete?
  • When was the last time you looked at your business holistically and questioned why you do things the way you do?
  • Do you regularly share ideas with your team and allow them to share their ideas with you or research online to see if there are better ways of doing things?

This is where unlearning becomes essential, letting go of outdated practices and the ‘we’ve always done it this way, so we’ll always do it that way’ mindset. This paves the way for innovative approaches and strategies. In the context of hospitality and revenue management, where adaptability and innovation are paramount, the concept of unlearning takes on special significance. In today’s blog, hospitality expert Robert Holland FIH takes us on a journey into the fascinating world of unlearning.

Unlearning in Hospitality: Breaking Free from Traditional Structures

Hospitality has traditionally been an industry rooted in established practices, from hierarchical organisational structures to time-honoured customer service methods. However, with the evolution of technology, changing consumer expectations and the introduction of new business models, unlearning is essential for sustainable success. When it comes to revenue management in particular, unlearning plays a key role in maintaining a competitive edge. Traditional revenue management strategies can become redundant in the face of changing market dynamics or new technologies. The ability to unlearn established pricing models and adopt dynamic, data-driven approaches is critical to optimising revenue streams.

For example, a hotel accustomed to a rigid, top-down management approach may find that it stifles creativity and agility. Unlearning this hierarchical mindset can foster a more collaborative culture, empowering employees at all levels to contribute ideas and respond quickly to changing guest preferences. But how do you unlearn?

Facilitating Unlearning in Hospitality

To effectively embrace unlearning, hoteliers can take many proactive measures. Here are six that can help your team and yourself to unlearn:

  1. Promote a growth mindset: Encourage your employees to view challenges and change as opportunities for growth. Emphasize the value of innovation, fostering a culture that embraces change.
  2. Reflect on Assumptions: Reflect regularly on your own assumptions and beliefs about the industry – the industry is in a state of rapid change. Identify any biases or preconceived notions that may be holding you back.
  3. Embracing a “Failure Culture”: Leaders can facilitate unlearning by creating an environment that supports experimentation and risk-taking. Employees should feel empowered to challenge conventional thinking and propose innovative solutions without fear of retribution.
  4. Investing in training and development: Implement targeted training programs that challenge outdated assumptions and encourage employees to explore new ways of approaching problems. Provide resources for continuous learning to keep teams updated on industry trends.
  5. Open dialogue and knowledge sharing: Establish forums for open dialogue and knowledge sharing within the organization. This enables employees to challenge established norms, share fresh perspectives, and collectively contribute to the evolution of the business.
  6. Balance tradition and innovation: Strike a balance between traditional hospitality values and innovative approaches. Recognise the importance of preserving what works well while exploring what doesn’t and embracing new opportunities.

In conclusion, unlearning is not merely a process of shedding the old; it’s a strategic imperative for hospitality businesses looking to thrive in a rapidly evolving market. By embracing unlearning, hotels can position themselves for long-term success, staying innovative and adaptable.

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