By Gerry Chase, President and COO, New Castle Hotels & Resorts
A great hotel general manager is a diplomat, an accountant, a psychologist, an engineer, a janitor and a marketing maven, all rolled into one hospitable, can-do person who is eager to serve others. The best ones know they have one of the best jobs in the world and they have fun doing it. Here are a few other things every great hotel GM knows:
1. Owners’ objectives. Sure, every owner or investor wants the hotel to make money, but beyond realizing an outstanding ROI, does the owner want the hotel to be the cornerstone of the community, or is it a real estate investment? Is this a prestige holding that will be retained beyond the normal five to seven-year hold cycle? Do the owners want recognition, or do they prefer to fly under the radar?
2. Many yardsticks. There are countless ways to measure a hotel’s performance and the best GMs focus on being the best in balanced scorecard areas: driving revenues, driving flow-through, associate engagement, customer experience. They also pay attention to newer measurement tools, such as Trip Advisor reviews and industry measurement such as the STAR performance and brand rankings, all with an eye toward delivering the best ROI to owners.
3. Balancing act. Just as good GMs strive to keep a balanced scorecard on the property, the best leaders make sure they are balancing business, family life, physical and mental/spiritual health, and they encourage their team members to do the same. If your personal life isn’t balanced, your business life will quickly become skewed.
4. Help is a phone call away. No GM is an island. Some attempt to prove their exceptional skills by doing everything themselves, but GMs who know how and when to utilize corporate expertise to effect the best outcome for the property, consistently score more home runs than those who try to be both coach and batter.
5. Walk and talk. Smart GMs walk the entire property every day to inspect cleanliness, and maintenance, address associates’ needs and get to know guests. They understand that they can set the tone for the entire day, and use this super power to create an upbeat, can-do atmosphere. The best GMs also take a daily walk through social media to see what’s being said, respond promptly to feedback and take any corrective or congratulatory action needed.
6. Marketing matters. It doesn’t matter how clean, well-maintained and efficient your operation is, if no one stays in the hotel. The best GMs recognize that sales, marketing, PR and social media are essential pieces of the puzzle, not expenses to be jettisoned every time the pencil needs sharpening.
7. Weed and feed. Retaining and growing top talent is essential to an effective, healthy operation and the best hotel GMs have programs and career progression plans in place for the top performers. Similarly, they are quick and fair when it comes to those who are not moving the business forward.
8. A penny saved. Great GMs are always on the lookout for smart ways to reduce costs without negatively impacting the operation.
9. The great communicator. A great hotel GM is an effective, responsive listener who is constantly engaged with guests and associates alike. The best respect customers’ needs, the owner’s investment, associates day-to-day challenges and the supervisor’s role in the operation.
10. Local Relevance. Today’s travelers may have a renewed interest in all things local, but great hotel GMs have always understood how important it is to be part of the local community. They encourage participation in local events, lead the way on green efforts and never forget that doing business in any town is a privilege, not a right.
11. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Aretha spelled it out for the world and great hotel GMs are willing to give more than they get. They also know that respect cannot be demanded, it can only be earned.
12. Greatest show on earth. Being a hotel GM is one of the best jobs in the world, and every good general manager recognizes that they are privileged to hold a job other people would love to have. They respect their position, the asset they’ve been entrusted to manage and people they impact daily and just as importantly, they have fun doing it.