3 Lessons to Learn From “Hidden Figures”

For many hotels, the movie, “Hidden Figures,” provides three valuable, hidden business lessons

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Over the weekend, I watched Hidden Figures, an Oscar-nominated film about a female team of African-American mathematicians working for NASA during the space race between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

As a proud hotel veteran, and as client relationship manager working with some of the most impressive and iconic hotels in the Americas, it never fails to surprise me how many similarities our industry has with other branches of life. The lessons I took from this movie, for example, were a clear indication of this worldly interconnection.

Here are three very distinct takeaways hotels can glean from Hidden Figures:

  • “I cannot work on what I cannot see” – Katherine Goble

    As Katherine began working as a human computer in the Space Task Group, she discovered Paul Stafford, a statistician and theorist, had redacted most of the data she would need to confirm or rebuff important calculations. She knew she needed more information—she couldn’t do her work accurately and successfully without the proper data.*

    Our industry takeaway: Hotels need to retain—and contribute—the right information. Human inputs and system configuration are vital for any technology to deliver the optimal results Click to Tweet | IDeaS Twitter. Are we holding back critical information our teams need to succeed?

    Not only does withholding information hurt those we’re leading, it holds back the progress and profit potential our team can make in the future.

  • “Progress is a double-edged sword”- Al Harrison

    The IBM 790 DPS could process data much faster than the human computers. This eventually led to Katherine being let go from the NASA Space Task Group. Her role was no longer needed; technology had replaced her.*

    Our industry takeaway:  Progress is a wonderful thing: it helps technology process data faster, provides better products to consumers more quickly and increases job productivity. Yet technology has the other edge: the potential to make jobs obsolete.

    However, automated revenue technology is not here to replace revenue managers. Its purpose is to make their job performance, revenue results and hotel profits even better. Someone is always needed to drive the technology and provide the valuable human inputs discussed above.

    For organizations implementing new technologies, this is an important consideration in the change management process. Technology may replace certain job functions, but it provides a very profitable opportunity in doing so: Hotels can focus on how they can evolve job roles with innovations in technology.

  • “It’s hard to trust something you can’t look in the eyes” – John Glenn

    The final coordinates for Glenn’s flight and landing were computed by the IBM 790 DPS; however, the calculations were different from what the Space Task Group had originally estimated. This discrepancy concerned Glenn. And for good reason: His life was on the line. He asked for Katherine to confirm whether or not the computer was right. She crunched the numbers and confirmed the coordinates.*

    Our industry takeaway: Trusting something that cannot be seen is hard. Whether that involves a trust in numbers, a business strategy or faith in a Higher Being, we can struggle with our beliefs.

    Hotels: That’s okay!  Ask for help from your technology partners if you need to confirm information. Don’t be afraid to do so. After all, as current and past hospitality professionals, we are all part of the same team driving progress and evolution in a dynamic industry.

*Scene description excerpts were sourced here.

Jill Nothwehr

Jill Nothwehr

Client Relationship Manager at IDeaS Revenue Solutions

Jill Nothwehr has spent nearly 15 years in the hospitality industry holding various management roles in front office, food & beverage, and meetings & events in hotels, restaurants, and casinos. With ongoing research on hospitality trends and topics, to say she is passionate about her clients and the hospitality industry is an understatement.

She holds a degree in Travel & Hospitality from Minneapolis Business College, along with multiple awards and accolades for her customer service.

If she’s not relaxing with a glass of wine out on the porch, you can usually find her out on the volleyball court or researching the next best recipe to cook up.
Jill Nothwehr

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