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Recovery may mean revised business practices

Over the past two years, the state of the economy and the deep recession that gripped the nation and negatively impacted the hotel design community has been much discussed. But while the severe economic downturn that began two years ago had many feeling uneasy early on, it has more recently also forced companies in all segments of the industry to review best practices and begin thinking differently about how each does business.

The practice of thinking “outside the box” was most evident during the recent HOTEL BUSINESS DESIGN® Roundtable that focused on the changing dynamics in how and where hotel furnishings are sourced. The august panel of designers, architects, purchasing agents and owners discussed how issues such as labor shortages in China, the sharp rise in shipping costs in recent months and the issue of sustainability have led all segments of the hotel design community to shakeup their thought processes when it comes to sourcing furniture for guest rooms and public spaces.

Five years ago, few would have thought that United States-based furniture manufacturers would see the strong renewed interest many of have seen recentlyfrom the hotel design community. As labor and shipping costs have risen dramatically over the past six to 12 months, the playing field in terms of sourcing products made in the U.S. versus those made in China has leveled a great deal.

And as the landscape of sourcing has been altered some over the past year, the mindset of those buying the products and those manufacturing the products has needed to change as well. The old ways of doing business may no longer work, and for those companies too stubborn to think differently may find themselves on the outside looking in when competing for jobs in today’s tight marketplace.

The change in thinking, if not business practices, appears to be needed with some furniture suppliers, based on feedback from Roundtable participants. Many noted that while they want to work with American manufacturers some panelists expressed frustration over the inability of some suppliers to make goods to certain specifications and the slow response time of others to requests for proposals on jobs.

While we know that dollars for investment in capital equipment today have been right-sized by the banks, we encourage suppliers working on both sides of the Pacific to continue looking for ways to upgrade equipment and streamline processes to more quickly respond to bids.

Being the last one to alter a mindset in response to changes in a given marketplace could make some companies little more than distant memories. And that’s something nobody wants.

©2001-2010, and ICD Publications, Inc.

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