|by NP Chandrashekhar CHA,MHCIMA, January 2006
Anything that has to be started afresh requires a “little more effort”
than that is already existing and running. It is very true in case
of a hotel. Opening of any hotel requires that “little more” as this
involves the needs of operational expertise, systems expertise, back office
expertise and marketing expertise before starting of operations.
Coordinated efforts of all these expertises make it easier to the opening
of a hotel. Many non-hotelier owners do not understand the importance
of back of the house and makes lot of compromises. This results in various
problems at a later stage. The owner only looks at the beauty of
the lobby and Restaurant, but, not kitchen or stores. Kitchen cannot
deliver to restaurant unless they are well equipped. Back office
is the backbone of the hotel without which front office cannot exist.
The classic example is the Disney Land.
It is very important to understand the needs of the hotel before even
the construction begins. This can be done only by the Facilities
Managers, who understands the pre-requisites of a hotel. There are
specific needs in the construction of a hotel, mainly Security and Safety
needs. Infrastructural requirement in a hotel are different from
normal buildings, this includes HVAC, Drainage system, Garbage disposal,
Fire alarm, sprinkler system etc. Understanding of these requirements
is also very important for opening of a hotel.
Main activities involved in opening of a hotel may be classified as
1. Back office activities.
2. Human Resources Development & Training.
3. Operational Activity.
4. Sales and Marketing Activity.
1. Back office activities:
Establishment of a back office, that includes, Finance Department,
Purchase Department, Stores/Receiving Department, Human Resources
Department and IT Department. Accounting starts from the day one
of the opening activity. Pre-opening activity include preparation
of expense budget for pre-opening, procuring materials and storing, choosing
of a property management system that suits the hotel, preparation of various
policies, procedures and manuals for the operation of the hotel, filling-up
of various positions through advertisement and recruitment agencies.
Obtaining various licenses and government approvals before opening of a
hotel is very important. Financial Controller is the one normally
takes the responsibility of Purchase, systems and IT, legal and Stores
Department apart from his Finance and Accounting functions in small hotels,
however, this differs in large hotels. All the back office activities
must be coordinated by the General Manager in the preparation of opening
of a hotel.
2 Human Resources Development & Training
A hotel building may look very beautiful, but, the life is given to
the building only by human resources. Human Resources are the biggest
asset of any hotel. One has to realize the uniqueness of the hotel
industry that lowest paid employee is servicing the highest paid client.
Establishment of standards of service is very important. This can
be achieved only by developing the existing human resources through training.
Getting the right kind of people is the biggest task of Human Resources
Department. Due to the scarcity of the required talent, one may have
to hire expatriate although they are expensive. Payroll costs are
the main ingredient of the total cost in the hospitality industry.
Often, the owners would like to know the payroll cost with comparison to
the other hotels in the region. Getting right people at right cost
at the right time becomes a task for the Human Resources Manager.
Many hotels does not give importance to training as there is a cost
involved and they feel employees learn on their own while doing their job.
In order to establish a standard, training is the only answer and it has
to be continuous. As there is continuous change in all walks of life,
in order to satisfy the changing need training is a must. Once the
selection is done, next comes the training. Training of personnel
has to be done in parity with the standard of service that is expected
from them. Each hotel has to set its own standard of service depending
on their classification and positioning.
3. Operations Activity
In every hotel operation, first comes the General Manager and Financial
Controller but, many tend to forget a very important position for a new
hotel “Chief Engineer”. Chief Engineer must be the first person who
should be appointed after the General Manager. Chief Engineer will
be able to asses and foresee any problems that may arise due to the lack
of any facility provided by the property. He will be able to guide
the General Manager in rectifying or correcting any problem that may directly
affect the guest service in the future.
Next comes, the establishment of other operational heads such as Executive
House Keeper, Front Office Manager, Food and Beverage Manager and Executive
Chef. These operational heads must make their team in co-ordination
with the Human Resources Department and General Manager. All appointments
of junior staff must be chosen by the departmental heads and approved by
the General Manager.
All Department Heads must be involved in the pre-opening process, such
as, training, making budgets and preparation of standard operating procedures
(SOP). They must ensure they have all equipments in place required
in their department for smooth operation before opening of a hotel.
4. Sales and Marketing
Along with the above activities sales and marketing activity must start
in parallel. Marketing activity includes focusing on business that
includes, making competition analyses, SWOT analysis, positioning of the
hotel, establishment of market segments, Advertising and promotion.
Director – Sales and Marketing must make his own team of sales personnel
who should co-ordinate with him in preparation of Sales Budget and Marketing
Plan. Often felt by sales personnel first year budget is bit difficult
to prepare as historical data not available. Still an experienced
person can easily draw out a sales budget and marketing plan based on the
current market trends in the region. Once the sales budget is prepared
and approved, expense budget also can be prepared by other department members
and sent to Finance for consolidation.
This is a coordinated activity, supervised by the General Manager.
Owner need to decide the date of opening well in advance and communicate
to the General Manager. Understanding of all the activities becomes
very important for successful opening of a hotel. Ultimately it is
the guest who makes judgment whether the hotel is worthy of stay or not!