Top 10 Ways to Become a Successful Hotel General Manager
If you’re a hotel GM or an aspiring one, today’s your day. Actually, tomorrow is (let me explain).
Close your eyes... now imagine waking up tomorrow morning with the sun shining, birds singing and the guarantee of all your employees actually showing up to work, smiling and on time. No guest complaints. And oh yeah, you get 100% perfect score on your inspection. Not a single issue in sight.
Sounds like the perfect work day ever, right? Yeah, who are we kidding. It’s the hotel business, after all, and there’s always crazy action around every corner (and isn't that part of why we love it so much too?).
Last year, all of that craziness might have stressed you out. You might have defaulted back to your “old ways” or bad habits. You might have relied on ineffective methods simply because they are familiar or "routine." You know it. You feel it. You desperately need to make a change.
Here's the good news: it's a new year, which means a new version of you! A new version that is going to have an awesome and successful year ahead, if you take a little time in these first few weeks and months of the year to get organized and re-evaluate your day-to-day.
As someone who has done the tough work of making these changes myself (and seen firsthand the positive results in my team), here are are 10 of the most important ways you can start the year off right and become a better, happier, and more successful hotel GM in 2019:
1. Believe in yourself
As the Hotel General Manager, you’re in charge of running a smooth sailing ship for your team and for guests. That's no small feat. The confidence you exude every day results in many positive things for your business, but it also means you have the courage to properly lead a team. Its shows you’re confident in decisions you make and inspires your team members to respect your decision making and approach.
Do these 3 things daily to boost your confidence:
- Push past your limiting beliefs. Do something that normally would scare you or make you uncomfortable.
- Introduce yourself to guests during breakfast, in the lobby or at the desk.
- Get feedback by asking your guests and staff members, “What is one thing we improve or do better?”
2. Build a stronger team
The key to running any successful business starts with the people. A strong team allows managers to do their job effectively, so your hotel needs to build a team that is reliable, caring and ready to work.
Do these 6 things to build a stronger team:
- Train everyone, including front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, F&B, shuttle drivers and more. Do this often. For example, we try to re-train our staff every quarter.
- Change responsibilities or positions that fit the individual. Maybe that housekeeping employee would be better suited for a front desk/night audit position? Be flexible in moving people around, and keep your eyes open for overlooked talent.
- Cross-train. Allow your team to build their skills in other departments, even if its temporary. This will allow them to understand the business in a holistic sense, which will in turn help them to offer a better, richer customer service experience to guests.
- Never stop coaching. Once you train your team, you must follow up individually to ensure success. This means following up on task items, engaging in role-playing, and offering suggestions on “how to do it more effectively."
- Don't be afraid to part ways. We all know that one person that might just be working because they need the money. Understandable, we all need money to live. However, if this same person doesn’t want to learn, isn't a team-player and brings everyone down, do yourself a favor and part ways with this “business-killer."
- Always be hiring. Don’t stop taking applications. You never know... your next front desk superstar may walk into your door or apply online at any moment. Don’t miss any opportunities!
3. Focus on guest feedback scores & reviews
This is a must-do for any successful hotel: create a user-friendly feedback program, use tools so that you can scale, and be proactive about soliciting reviews. This year, resolve to improve your guest survey scores and get more reviews. You could be filling extra room nights if you have more or better online reviews. Remember, your guests are still reading reviews and making booking decisions based on what others are saying about your online reputation.
Here are 6 ways to improve your guest feedback and reviews:
- Get your hotel in order by (at the very least) providing what guests expect. In short, GET THE BASICS RIGHT!
- Train your staff on how to provide exceptional customer service.
- Get feedback and correct issues before ever asking for a review.
- Do not solicit feedback/reviews at check-in.
- Find an easy way to remind your guests to share a review. Provide your staff with their own review business cards or use mention my name cards. You must give them something in their hand to remind them to share their experience. Our entire staff has their own business cards so they can be proud of their position and ask for reviews at any moment, on the spot. It works!
- Follow up. If a guest leaves a somewhat negative review, don't ignore it. Truly listen to their feedback, and do all you can to act on it and assure them that their concerns have been heard and are valued.
4. Optimize your health
Make better food choices, exercise more, cut down on sugar, join a gym, reduce stress levels...
These things have been on my to-do list for years, and every time a new year rolls around I say, this is the year I start taking better care of myself. I do a pretty good job of keeping good habits in January, and then Feburary hits...
Well, a few years ago, I managed to dig out of my slump and adopt some healthier habits (that lasted more than a month). I lost over 25lbs in a matter of months and, most importantly, have maintained a healthier weight and lifestyle ever since. And now that I feel better, I can do better. I'm more energized at work, and because I feel great each day, I'm able operate at 100% for my team and for my business.
Here's how I optimized my health in a way that actually had lasting, meaningful results:
- I set a goal for how much weight I wanted to lose and by when (including mini-goals along the way).
- I wrote everything down... my goals, my strategy, my deadlines.
- I communicated my goals to everyone around me (friends, family, social media) to create a sense of accountability.
- I asked someone to keep me on track. My accountability partner was my bookkeeper!
- I cut out sugars and fatty foods.
- I joined a group fitness gym and attended 5-6 classes per week (I still love Orange Theory at 5:15am).
- I drank 80-90oz of water per day (half my body weight in ounces).
- I weighed myself 4-5 times per week.
- I gave myself some "cheat days."
This list seems long and painful for most, but if you break it down into small starts, it's not so bad. Plus think about how great you’re going to feel when you're able to keep up with your team and put in the long hours every GM is familiar with and still feel good at the end of the day.
5. Get organized
In the hotel business, you get pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Staying organized with your staff, projects, accounting is top priority. One shortfall, oversight, or misstep and your entire week can be thrown off track.
Here are 5 ways the most productive hotel general managers stay organized:
- Make many lists. I have quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily lists going simultaneously.
- Use Google Keep to make lists and share them with team members.
- Asana is a nice cloud-based task management app for on-the-go managers.
- Refer to your list often to stay on schedule with due dates.
- Create a daily routine and stick to it. For example, if you’re going to check rooms, check them daily. Create a routine for how often and when you will respond to guest surveys or reviews.
Ok, I confess, I’m totally guilty of doing a task I could (and probably should) have had someone else do. This is a common enough mistake for managers, but one day you wake up and say, why am I doing everyone’s work?
As a hotel GM, your time is precious, which means you can't possibly do everything. So, we need to delegate.
Here are 3 things you could be delegating to your staff so that you can have more time to do all those higher priority tasks on your lists:
- Have your capable front office manager or desk associates be responsible for responding to guest surveys on a few particular channels.
- Show an associate how to reconcile travel agent commissions or other weekly or monthly reporting.
- Delegate your direct bills invoicing to your night auditor.
7. Build your network
In business, who you know can often be more important than what you know, and new connections could mean more business for your hotel.
Here are a few easy, quick ways to expand your network and create new connections that can move your business forward:
- Create a LinkedIn profile.
- Join your local Convention and Visitors Bureau.
- Enroll your hotel in your area Chamber of Commerce.
- Use social media to discover likeminded hospitality folks like you.
- Attend hospitality conventions and tradeshows.
- Use MeetUp app to find other hotel people in your region.
- Reconnect with another hotel GM or business manager (grab lunch).
- Join private hospitality groups on Facebook.
- Nurture your relationship with existing and new vendors.
8. Focus on RevPar
2019 will bring many uncertainties, including the state of the economy. This means we need to pay more attention to our rates and inventory yielding. Do the following to make sure you hotel is getting its fair share of business through all channels.
- Perform multiple, daily shops via tools such as OTA Insights.
- Pay attention to market trends with your STR report.
- Open or close restrictions such as minimum length of stays or close to arrivals.
- Create a spreadsheet report with your annual special events and track them to maximize revenues. Compare lasts and current pace.
- Reach out to your OTA market managers to ensure your hotel is open, showing and available on their sites.
9. Improve your skills
This is my favorite tip! Make a committment this year to acquire news skills that can help you become a more successful general manager. Here's how:
- Read, read, and then read some more. Make a committment to stay informed about what's happening in the industry.
- Listen to podcasts
- Discover hospitality tech articles
- Watch Youtube videos, search customer service or guest experience
- Get certified - Certified Hotel Administrator - CHA
- Attend regional sales and marketing classes
- Get a hospitality mentor
- Learn from a hotel consultant
- Get on-property service training
- Educate yourself from organizations such as American Hotel & Lodging Association
10. Get more life
Most successful general managers are passionate about their careers. That sometimes means all we can think about is the property. Sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night and want to know what’s going on right now. But being passionate doesn't mean you can't have a life outside of your hotel.
In 2019, you deserve to get more life! So, more of the following:
- Do more fun things.
- Do things that inspire you.
- Get more sleep.
- Take time for yourself.
- Watch less tv and spend more time with people that matter.
- Remember, healthy = happy (and, ultimately, more productive)
Well, there it is. I hope these tips bring you much success in 2019 and beyond. Why wait unil tomorrow? Start taking action TODAY!
Written By Rupesh Patel
Rupesh Patel is a Hotel CEO and Founder of SmartGuests.com. His hands-on approach and 20+ years of experience have helped thousands of hotel professionals improve their operations. Rupesh has been featured in industry-leading media channels including hospitality magazines, podcasts, books, blogs and more.
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