The Firmdale hotels are very famous hotels in the United Kingdom especially in England where they are widespread all over London. There are six main UK luxurious Firmdale hotels namely Charlotte street hotel, Knightsbridge hotel, Number sixteen hotel, Crosby street, Soho hotel, New York, Haymarket hotel (Firmdale Hotels, 2000). There are also five restaurants and bars in London under the Firmdale management that delivers high standard of excellence and unique decoration styles which have greatly added to the winning combination of the entire properties under Firmdale management. The Hotels have been receiving the Queens award for international trade in 2000, 2006, 2007, and 2008. The Haymarket hotel was as well awarded the Crown Estate prestigious Urban business award. All these awards came as a result of good management from a group of managerial leaders headed by Jan Hazelton who is the managing director.
The ultimate aim of this report is to analyze the elements of business strategy where it begins by evaluating the generic strategies of the Firmdale hotels. It also focuses on the range of directions in strategic development as well as the best methods for the adaptation of the directions. The report then looks at the merits or the advantages of one of the main strategic directions employed by the Firmdale organization; in this case it talks about the merits of design in Firmdale hotels. The report winds up by focusing on the key issues for the implementation of the some of the main strategies mentioned in the report but mainly deals with the design strategy.
Business-level generic strategies
The main aim of the generic strategies is to maintain the products at low cost in order to improve the competitive advantage and to earn profits higher than the other rivals. The Firmdale company has been able to maintain its competitive advantage in the market field by operating at low costs than the other hotels around. In fact, the organization receives its market share by selling the food staffs at low prices as well as providing other hotel services at a price below the average industry prices. For example, the cost of Breakfast at any Firmdale hotel ranges from $17.00 to $29.00 which is a bit cheap in comparison to other hotels most of which have their breakfast ranging from $25 to up to $60. This is an advantage to the organization because incase the competition suffers losses due to price war, the organization is able to maintain some profitability (Roberts T. 1989). This may also happen in case the industry matures and prices decline where the Firmdale firm is able to remain profitable for a long period than the rival hotels around London. Therefore, this shows that the Firmdale group of hotels is at a very high business level as compared to the other hotels in London and New York.
The strategy that was employed by the Firmdale firm in order to acquire its cost advantages was the improvement of its process efficiency, gaining of the unique access to a large source of lower cost materials, making vertical integration decisions and optical outsourcing decisions. The firm was able to acquire the unique access to the industrial food materials that comes direct from manufacturers to the firm. This was possible since the hotels are quite many and their consumption rate of these food materials is also high due to the efficient customer attendance. Therefore, they are able to order food products directly from the industry and some fresh vegetables and fruits that come directly from gardens (Firmdale Hotels, 2000). When they take these food staffs in bulks, the cost goes a little bit down thus they are able to sale their fast foods at a lower price than the rival hotels thus being able to sustain its competitive advantage based on the cost leadership.
The Firmdale organization has been able to succeed in cost leadership in London due to the following internal strengths (Porter, 2006):
The firm has access to the capital required to make a major investment in food selling assets; this investment represents a barrier to entry that several firms may not go through.
Food preparation and designation skills for efficient attraction and satisfaction of the customers.
High level of expertise cookers and service staff who knows how to sweet-talk and attract customers.
Efficient distribution channels for the take-away foods that requires delivery service as well as smooth distribution of the food materials from the manufacturers to various Firmdale hotels around London.
Note that the mentioned generic strategies have their risks. For example, the low cost strategy may be implemented by the other hotels and since the technology is improving day by day, the competition may be able to leapfrog the food selling capabilities thus eliminating the competitive advantage. However, to fight such a limitation and to be on top of its game, the Firmdale firm came up with the differentiation strategy. This is a strategy where there is the development of a service or product that issues out a unique attributes that are treasured by the customers and that the customers view to be better than or different from the products of other competitors (FAO/WHO). The Firmdale hotels management was able to develop the best and high quality, tasty and flavored food staffs as well as fantastic services offered by the service staffs who are majorly ladies. This is a unique attribute since the other hotels normally have most of their service staff being men and their food staffs are just normal, no uniqueness. In order for the Firmdale hotels management to come up with differentiation strategy, it focused on the following internal strengths:
Had the access to the leading scientific research based on its field
Highly skilled and creative employees; management, cook staff and service staff
Corporate reputation for quality and innovation
Strong board of directors and creative management that is able to carry out research, interviews, surveys, and hear the views of the customers as well as taking them into considerations (Ginny, 2006).
The Firmdale hotels also incorporated the focus strategy, which concentrates on narrow segments where it uses the same to achieve either differentiation or cost advantage strategy.
Range of directions in strategic development
There are a number of directions which the Firmdale management focused on to have its strategies develop and to increase its attractiveness and customer attendance. These directions are as follows (Porter, 2006).
The design of the Firmdale hotels is among the best designs in the world and it is based on two main things. First, the quality of the design has markedly improved in the business hotel department in that the self-referential interiors of the designer hotels has been skillfully reinterpreted and softened with the emphasis put on luxury and comfort. Once a person enters one of these hotels, he or she feels contented with everything even before they are presented with the menu. In London for example, the Charlotte street hotel, Knightsbridge hotel, Number sixteen hotel are among the high quality and most preferred hotels in town in terms of their comfy nature and their tranquil nature. I have been in most hotels in New York and England but I must admit the Firmdale hotels are the best. I once took my lunch at the Charlotte street hotel and happened to have supper at Knightsbridge the following day (Firmdale Hotels, 2000). I really enjoyed being at this places due to their designs of furniture, building colors and decorations, and the tranquility of the environment.
The other direction in strategy development is the efficient and most effective management of the hotels, which is lead by Rod Taylor, the chairman and founder and Jan Hazelton who is the managing director. Jan is a very qualified and experienced person who graduated at the Washington State University’s hotel school. She is also a member of the international Hotel Investment Council, member of ULI-hotel and resort Council. Robert on the other hand is as well a qualified and experienced person who assists greatly on the financial management and financial issues since he has a twenty-year experience as a finance advisor/partner in the UK based corporate finance firms. He has also dealt with strategy and acquisitions advisory activities. Others in the list include HR advisor, Andrew Kirkpatrick, senior account manager, Phil Ford, consulting pastry chef, Jennifer Domanski among others. These are the people behind the success of the Firmdale hotels that are best hotels in England and New York as proved by the number of awards they have received and if the management remains intact, I must admit they will win more and more awards in the coming days.
Let it be clear that the Firmdale hotels began as one hotel in 1970s and they have experienced massive expansion ever since that period. This process has been accelerated by the fabulous management under which the hotels operate (Ginny, 2006). It is the management that ensures once the customer enters the hotel, he or she leaves contented with everything from comfy nature of the place to the fabulous and satisfactory quality of food they are served with as well as the service process. From one, the hotels have been slowly expanding until they are now six in London with the latest one in New York which was established in early 2009. I believe by 2015 there will be two new hotels established in another region in the world probably in south America and Australia and by 2030, they will have spread all over the world with more than thirty branches.
The adaptation methods for the directions in strategy development
There are various methods that are or needs to be employed in order to fit into the modern world that is technology driven. The best adaptation method for the design direction is coming up with the latest designs by renovating the Firmdale hotels wherever necessary to suit into the modern world and to maintain the competitive advantage (Malik, 1981). Under the management, the best method to improve it is to employ the selective method while choosing the employees or staff for the hotels. They need to have qualified and experienced personnel who are able to satisfy the customers with their services. Under the expansion, it is wise for the hotel management to employ research and survey processes to identify the best places where they can establish other branches and still be competitive in the market field in that area.
Advantages of preparing quality food at Firmdale Hotels
The ultimate aim of opening many restaurants and hotels is to run the business of selling food staffs and related items (Jansen, 2010). Rod Taylor had studied hotel financing, hospitality and tourism and his objective of establishing the Firmdale hotels was to run the food related business. Therefore, food hygiene and nutrition are the important aspects taken into consideration because they determine the quality of the food presented to the customers (FAO/WHO). The hotels have highly considered the five key principles of food hygiene that are recognized by the World Health Organization. These include prevention of food contamination with pathogens spreading from people, pets and pests, separation of raw and cooked foods to avoid contamination of the cooked food, food storage at the proper temperatures and using safe water and raw materials. Lastly, food is cooked at the appropriate length of time and at appropriate temperature to kill the pathogens. Firmdale hotels have been able to be at the top of their game and maintain their competitive advantages by implementing the food principles and preparing flavored and high quality food as well as maintaining effective services. This has enabled them to win several awards for being the most preferred hotels in London. Their priority is to see their customers getting what they came for and getting out satisfied with everything.
Key issues for implementation of quality foods at Firmdale hotels
The major issue that makes people have food choices and the places to eat the food is a co-operative process that involves both the knowledge of nutrition and the desires and satisfaction of the place. This is the major issue that attracts people at the Firmdale hotels (Becker, 2010). This is because food nutrition according to the research done is that it has long term benefits to the health of an individual. Nobody has ever complain about the food quality of the Firmdale hotels, most people do praise the food and the services they are offered.
Since people have trained to enjoy the nutritious food that they are sure will guarantee their future well being, they cannot stop taking their meals at the Firmdale hotels. Most of the customers at these hotels are people who are guided by their knowledge of food selection (Buzby, 1996). Most of them examines the hygiene of the food they are presented with and the hygiene of the entire place. Cleanliness is one principle that is highly considered at the Firmdale hotels and this also increases their competitive advantage since they are among the leading hotels in London in terms of cleanliness and hygiene.
Thus the key strategic issues that are implemented at the Firmdale hotels are hygiene of the food and the entire environment and the nutrition of food which they have been able to maintain by considering the five principles of food hygiene and nutrition.