You’ve finally done it. After years of working long, low-paid hours as a bellhop or concierge, you’ve worked your way up to hotel manager.
Now you’re the gal or guy in charge. And it’s terrifying.
After all, so many people depend on you. The guests depend on you to make their experience a happy one. Your staff depend on your direction to do their jobs. And most of all, the owner expects you to meet revenue goals. No excuses.
But don’t worry, you’ve got this. After all, all those years you’ve invested in the hospitality business is what made you such an attractive hire as a hotel manager to begin with.
So relax, trust in your abilities, and take these tips for new hospitality managers to heart. We’ve scoured advice from all sorts of great resources around the web on hotel management, and have compiled some of the best advice below.
1. Find a mentor
Mentors are such an awesome resource, especially ones who have experience in the hospitality industry. It’s one thing to read about the industry in a book, and it’s another to have a discussion about the subject with someone who knows what they’re talking about and wants you to succeed.
But what if you don’t know anyone who would make a great mentor? That’s OK. You just need to find someone and it’s not as hard as you think.
Go through your professional network and ask a hotel manager you respect to meet you for coffee. Spend that time asking some of your deepest questions, and really, really listen to the responses.
You’ll find many hotel managers would love to become a mentor to someone, if they were only asked. Even if they’re a complete stranger at first, most will be flattered to be approached. And anyway, the worst thing they can do is say “no.”
2. Be selective in your hiring
A hotel manager is only as good as his or her team. You’re not hiring a line cook to work an idiot-proof system at McDonald’s. You’re hiring people who need to be both highly skilled and highly personable.
Hiring the wrong person will just cause immense frustration for you. Your job is tough enough as it is—if you’re going to have to clean up after another employee’s messes, forget about doing a good job at running a hotel.
On the other hand, good employees are a force multiplier. When you can trust employees enough to give them the authority to make decisions, it frees you up to do the really important activities that can help your hotel grow, such as talking with customers and promoting the hotel.
But how do you do that? For one thing, don’t hire only when you have an opening. If you do, you’ll feel rushed to fill the spot and won’t take the time necessary to sort through applicants to find the person with not only the requisite experience, but also the right people skills for the job.
Instead, recruit throughout the year to help you find star talents that will make your job easier and inspire your hotel guests to rave about you later.
3. Focus on leadership, not management
Yeah, it’s in your job title. But if all you’re doing is managing, you’re not really doing a great job of being a hotel manager.
You absolutely must be a leader, and that requires being proactive about how you approach your job, and not simply reacting to every single crisis that rears its head.
One big way you can be a great leader is to delegate. By taking advantage of that great staff you hired, you can free up your time for the more important stuff. But you’ve got to work hard at first, because delegation is not easy. You’ll have to create training materials and take your employees step by step through them until they can take the reins.
Training materials should include clearly defined objectives and performance measurements so your staff knows exactly what you expect from them. Arrange weekly or at least bi-weekly meetings with each individual staff member to make sure they are meeting those standards. And don’t forget to attach nice little bonuses to meeting them so it becomes a positive and motivational experience.
Another part of being an effective leader is being prepared for emergencies. When a crisis happens, you’ve got to be calm and decisive.
Let’s say you overbooked this evening and now a guest doesn’t have a room, and they’re not happy. Treat the guest to a drink on the house and hit the phones to find a nearby hotel room that is even nicer than what they booked, pay for it out of your own pocket, apologize profusely, and bring them to the other hotel yourself. Then consider offering some vouchers redeemable at your hotel should they decide to come to the area again.
4. Communicate, communicate, communicate
via Hamza Butt
This could be a subset of leadership, but I feel like it’s such an important aspect of your job that it needs to be broken into its own section.
You must, must, must keep your staff in the loop, whether that be about a change in policy, new hotel management software, or a problem with the plumbing. If your staff is in the dark, that’s when mistakes happen, and that leads to unhappy customers, which leads to bad reviews, which leads to fewer bookings. It’s important.
As mentioned above, regular meetings with individual members of your staff can help. But you need to go beyond that. Schedule regular meetings with the entire staff to talk about all changes, even small ones.
Send out regular email blasts to your employees. Put up a bulletin board in a space visible to all employees where you can post announcements. Or perhaps find an hotel management app that offers the ability to directly message any employee in the hotel.
5. Listen to your guests
Who’s the best person to talk to in order to find out how well you’re running your hotel? No, it’s not you—you’re a terrible judge of your own performance. Neither is it your staff—they can only offer you limited perspective from their point of view.
Ding ding ding, it’s your guests. At the end of the day, their opinion is the only one that really matters. So talk to them at every opportunity.
Did a customer complain about your hotel online? Great! You’ve just spotted an area of weakness you can correct, and you have a rare opportunity to reach out to the customer and make it right. Many guests simply leave silently and never come back if they don’t enjoy their experience.
But again, don’t be reactive, be proactive. Conduct surveys of your guests to ask them about their experience at your hotel. Use hotel management software with a guest experience management feature, so you can track guest preferences and wow them when they (hopefully) return to the hotel with a personalized experience.
Also, take advantage of the miracle of social media to both promote your hotel and interact directly with customers on a regular basis.
6. Keep learning
All of the most successful people in the world have one thing in common: they read voraciously. There’s a wealth of information out there to absorb, and those who gobble up as much knowledge as they can have the edge over the 99% of people who don’t.
Take just a half hour each day to read up on news in your industry. You’ll be surprised at what you pick up throughout the week. Set aside time every day to read a book on the hotel industry. Reading 10 pages per day may not seem like much, but after a year you’ll have read 3,650 pages, or about 10 sizable books.
Imagine the advantage you’ll have over your peers if you absorb such a huge volume of industry knowledge every year.
What hotel management tips do you have?
If you’ve been around the hotel industry for a bit, you’ve learned a few things yourself that you wish you knew when you got started. So share them in the comments below.
Or, if you’re struggling with one aspect of hotel management, feel free to chime in as well. There’s always someone willing to help.