As anyone in Hospitality will confirm, hotel General Managers (GMs) have their work cut out for them. According to Indeed, hotel managers typically need at least five years of on-the-job hospitality experience working in varying departments, and that’s on the early end of the career spectrum.
The long and bumpy road of growing one’s career as a successful hotel GM is rich with excitement, fulfillment, and accomplishments. But it can also come with a host of challenges and sleepless nights.
Many skills and characteristics of successful hotel GMs may seem innate, such as interpersonal skills, empathy, patience, and leadership. But most successful hoteliers will attest that a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into climbing to the top of the ladder. So what skills, strategies, and best practices ultimately earn Hospitality professionals the respected title of GM? We have defined the top habits and attributes of becoming a successful hotel GM and thriving in the hospitality industry.
A hotel GM is only as good as his or her team. You’re not hiring an assembly line worker to handle a specific task in a manufacturing process. You’re hiring passionate individuals who need to be highly personable, highly skilled, and driven.
The wrong hire can inevitably result in greater frustration for you and the rest of your team. Your role as GM is already challenging enough as it is. So if you’re forced into a position to have to clean up after another employee’s errors, the more essential aspects of running a hotel get pushed to the wayside.
Conversely, exceptional employees are a force multiplier in hospitality. When you can put your faith and trust in employees to give them the authority to make decisions, it gives you the space to address more critical activities, such as streamlining processes, acquiring feedback from customers, promoting the hotel, and bolstering its reputation.
Easier said than done, right? There are a couple of fundamental best practices to building an all-star team. For starters, don’t limit your hiring efforts to only when you have a job opening. This will only add pressure to fill the position instead of taking the time necessary to distill applicants and pinpoint ideal candidates.
Alternatively, recruit throughout the year to find top-tier talent that will ultimately make your job easier. This practice will help you find the best people with the requisite experience and professionals equipped with the necessary skills for the job.
Sure, “manager” is in every hotel GM title. But if all you’re doing is managing, then you’re neglecting a significant portion of what it takes to thrive as a hotel manager.
You must take ownership as a leader. Effective leadership requires being proactive about approaching your job – such as communication, recruiting, tackling problems, and resolving conflict – not merely reacting to issues as they arise.
A critical aspect of becoming a great leader is delegating. Don’t try to do everything yourself and avoid any tendencies to micromanage. Be proactive with your staff in communicating the hotel’s mission, vision, values, and goals, and step back and let your team take it from there. Setting this leadership example will inspire your department heads and managers to do the same.
A crucial aspect of delegation is having systems in place to ensure your team is on the right track. Training materials should outline clearly defined objectives and performance standards so your employees understand exactly what’s expected of them. Set aside time to meeting with each member of your team to ensure they are meeting those standards. Don’t hesitate to include bonuses or reward systems to reinforce your team’s optimistic and motivational experience.
In any industry but especially Hospitality, communication is critical as a manager. While it may seem obvious to some, it’s crucial to keep your staff in the loop, whether it involves a policy change, new hire, shift in roles, new software or system integration, or only a problem with the plumbing or electrical system. If your team is left in the dark, that’s when mistakes happen, conflicts arise, and trust issues surface.
Even worse, poor communication with your team can eventually hinder customer service and lead to unhappy guests, which in turn can lead to bad reviews and fewer bookings as a result.
As mentioned above, setting aside time for meetings with individual members of your team can have a tremendous impact in many ways. Not only can these meetings help mitigate problems before they arise, but they provide an opportunity to listen to the feedback, needs, and concerns of your employees. Successful GMs are not always on ground level with the team, so the insights earned from staff members can be invaluable.
Communication can also take the form of broader messages to keep employees in the know. Send out frequent email blasts, put up a bulletin board, or perhaps use a hotel management app that offers the ability to message any staff member in the hotel. These small measures accumulate significant returns in improving organizational communication and ensuring your team is unified and aligned to support the business’s bigger picture.
While your team can be a reliable source for insight for internal operations and workflow, the best source of feedback and information about how well you’re running your hotel is your guests. It’s the opinions and experiences shared by your guests that truly matter the most. So talk to them and acquire feedback at every opportunity possible.
Did a customer leave a negative review about your hotel online? Take it as positive, constructive feedback. Many guests will often check-out silently and never come back if they have a poor experience. Negative reviews can help you pinpoint areas of weakness that you can correct. In many cases, they leave you with an opportunity to reach out to the customer and rectify the situation.
Listening to your guests shouldn’t be a reactive process but rather one that enables proactive systems. Conduct surveys of your guests to ask about their experience. Use hotel management software with a guest experience feature, so you can track their preferences and fulfill them with a personalized experience when they return to the hotel. Leverage social media to both promote your hotel and interact directly with customers regularly.
Even at the highest level, mentors serve as an invaluable resource for leaders. This is especially true in the Hospitality industry. It’s one thing to learn about the industry in a textbook, but it’s another to be able to share and discuss certain subjects with someone who has the industry experience and knows what they’re talking about.
It may seem like a daunting endeavor to recruit a mentor, especially if you don’t have a vast network of colleagues and industry connections. But finding someone is not as hard as you might think.
While in-person connections are best, it may be easier to develop a mentor relationship online as well. Use LinkedIn and other networking platforms to connect with industry professionals who you respect and admire. A thoughtful email or direct message can go a long way in establishing a meaningful connection, even if it’s infrequent Zoom calls or an occasional meet-up over coffee.
You may find that many hotel managers and executives would love to become a mentor, if only they were asked. Even if they’re someone who you’re not already connected with or even a stranger, most will appreciate being approached. The worst-case scenario is that they decline.