Lean management for satisfaction of tourists and better organization in hotels and travel agencies


What makes guests very willing to stay in one hotel, recommend it to their friends and come back several or even a dozen or so times? Certainly good conditions – this is the basis. Nice service for sure, nice surroundings too.

However, there is something else that we certainly do not notice on a daily basis, absorbed in relaxation, sun, new acquaintances and vacation. Little things that we don’t pay attention to until … something stops working.

We are waiting too long for breakfast, the room was not cleaned thoroughly enough, also a clean towel is missing.

If there are too many such “meaningless” details, even if the surroundings are the most beautiful and the conditions are roughly good, the next time we will probably find that we prefer to discover other corners of the world or even check how it is in other hotels .


Lean management in tourism / How to optimize processes and minimize waste to the delight of tourists!
Lean management in tourism / How to optimize processes and minimize waste to the delight of tourists!

If you are a guest in hotels and an airport traveler, you probably don’t pay attention to such matters – something else is on your mind. However, if you are the owner of a hotel, hostel or guesthouse and you are wondering how to make your guests happy to come back for their next vacation, this article is for you.

See how to use the concept of lean management in tourism!

What is lean management?

If you’ve made it through this lengthy introduction, congratulations! Now only useful information and practical tips are waiting for you!

Before we get to them, however, let’s explain in a few words what lean management is. This is a management concept that originated in Japan, and which assumes that in order for the company’s operations to bring the expected results – i.e. customer satisfaction and higher profits – several conditions must be met.

(Let us immediately add here: the concept was created in production plants, and yet many of its principles can be transferred to other fields, which we will see in a moment.)

The basic principle is to create a product or service of the highest quality using the available resources and avoiding any waste.

It is true that you can see immediately how useful such a concept can be in tourism?

What does “the highest quality” mean and what is waste?

According to the concept of lean management, the value of a product is a value seen from the customer’s perspective (and not, for example, from the owner or manager of a given hotel or travel agency).

The client is ready to pay for it.

Such a change of point of view can bring many benefits to tourism management!

Anything that does not benefit the customer is considered a waste. It can concern factors such as materials, costs, time, energy, labor, as well as excessive transport or waiting.

Lean management and tourism / How to better manage your budget and your holiday home.
Lean management and tourism / How to better manage your budget and your holiday home.

Advantages of using lean management in tourism

What measurable effects can the use of lean management principles, techniques and tools in tourism bring?

Here the list is quite long and, let’s admit, looks inviting:

  • Increasing your profits. The purpose of implementing lean management in tourism is to achieve a situation in which services are delivered faster, more effectively and at the highest level. This is the best incentive for existing and potential customers.
  • Reduce costs by eliminating waste.
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness through personal efforts by staff.

Where can lean management be implemented in tourism?

In hotels, airports or service points, there are zones that can be successfully improved without much work. Just focusing on them allows you to immediately identify errors or fields to be corrected.

  1. Time of cleaning hotel rooms (how to organize the work of the staff so that there is no need for excessive movement?),
  2. The costs of food and drinks (it is worthwhile to be creative in creating the menu, using, for example, seasonal products),
  3. Multitasking staff (for example, reception staff can perform the duties of a concierge if necessary, and vice versa),
  4. Searching for external specialists to perform, for example, public relations services.

Lean management in tourism and visual management

Visual management in tourism can bring excellent results both in optimizing the work of staff and in the comfort of guests. It assumes that drawings, arrows or other simple information in the form of pictures allow for more comfortable, faster and more effective operation than placing written instructions in the appropriate places.

Moreover, for staff or guests who speak different languages, such communication seems extremely effective.


  1. Use of colored lines on the floor pointing to specific places in the facility (see airport),
  2. Designation of individual cutlery in the buffet,
  3. Designating places where you should put a given equipment or item,
  4. Obvious, but also belongs to the methods of visual management: marking the taps red (hot water) and blue (cold water),
  5. Marking parking spaces with appropriate horizontal lines.
Lean management on vacation
Lean management on vacation

Why is lean not implemented everywhere it can?

As you can see, the lean management concept can bring only benefits: it is rational, relatively easy to implement (it is based on specific situations and facts!), And also offers a great opportunity to increase profits.

Companies that effectively implement the concept of lean management among their clients do a lot of good. One of such companies is smartlean.pl. As understood by our travel portal, lean management implementations are important if they are made in hotels, hostels, campsites, campsites and the best travel agencies.

There is, however, some stubbornness among the tourism industry.

So what exactly prevents the lean management concept from being applied on a large scale?

  • Habits. It concerns especially people who have been working in their positions for many years. It is difficult to change your habits which have “always worked”. It takes effort.
  • The mere implementation of several principles and techniques cannot be called the implementation of the lean concept. It requires a change in the thinking of all employees, and only with a new mindset and striving for excellence, the lean concept can bring tangible, long-term benefits.
  • In the case of smaller, family-run businesses, there may be concern about the excessive financial burden resulting from providing training for all employees (whose turnover in tourism is relatively high).
Lean management in a hotel
Lean management in a hotel

Lean management in tourism – an example of the Yukai Resort hotel in Japan

Traditional Japanese minimalism and simplicity in interior design: cleanliness and order, everything in its place. Is this what every Japanese hotel looks like? Certainly not.

The Yukai Resort Hotel in Ureshino is an example of how the implementation of lean management in the tourism industry can positively affect the overall operation of such a facility. Its staff is multitasking here (as has been mentioned), which means that even in the absence of one of the employees, the rest of the crew are able to take over his duties without any problems and it does not interfere with the normal operation of the hotel.

Both breakfast and dinner are offered here in the form of a buffet, which on the one hand is liked by guests, and on the other – does not require more people to be served.

For more concepts of using the lean management method in the tourism industry, see here.

And what possibilities do you see for using lean management in tourism? We are interested in your opinion.


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