If you’re looking for a career where no two days are alike, managing a hotel ought to be right up on your list. The number of details involved in our profession is mind-boggling; virtually every decision we make is an opportunity to strengthen the operation as a whole – or to weaken it. In order to be a successful hotelier, you have to be able to change directions quickly and solve problems on the fly.
Take resource management, for example. The price of electricity is going up, and there is more pressure on hotels to lighten their ecological footprint. Experienced managers know there are countless ways to save resources – including voltage optimisation, water conservation measures, LED lighting, high-efficiency appliances, solar panels and so on. If none of these solutions are researched or exploited, the hotel’s profit margin will be much narrower than it could otherwise be.
Housekeeping is another oversight that costs dearly. Take a look at popular review platforms like TripAdvisor and Google. Notice how many negative reviews are centered on housekeeping issues. Even one guest who doesn’t feel the room has been properly cleaned can put a large dent in a hotel’s online reputation. We could use clearer statistics on the reasons for negative reviews, but lack of cleanliness is clearly among the most common. Avoiding this pitfall involves clear direction, careful oversight, regular inspections, and more effective training for staff.
What about truth in advertising? This is another mistake that gets hotel managers in deep trouble. It sounds simple enough to be aware of your hotel’s promotional photos, where they appear online, and whether they match your current fittings. But these things can get lost in a busy year at a busy hotel. OTA listings – whether due to confusing upload procedures or shortcuts taken by hotel managers – often feature inaccurate photography for different room types. Negative guest experiences are generated, and reputation is lost.
Making your hotel a great place to work – this is another area where so many blunders are made. Personalities may clash; priorities may be forgotten. Managers may lose sight of the simple fact that when staff are happy and motivated, every aspect of the guest experience is elevated. The experience of being a manager is elevated too.
But this is notoriously easier said than done. It takes skillful and empathetic leadership to build a rapport with employees; to reward them for great work and include them in critical problem solving. When done correctly, this gives the hotel a rock solid foundation. When good leadership is lacking, it’s not just the team but also the guest who pays a price.
We could go on and on about the various things hoteliers can get wrong – and there are many - but what is the biggest?
In 2018, one of the biggest mistakes is not being aware of how many options travelers now have – if we are aware, then not acting on that is equally as bad. The hospitality landscape has grown more competitive and transparent. We can no longer say, “this is my product and you will like it”. There are new properties popping up all over Australia and the world, from privately managed apartments to boutique hotels converted from warehouses. Technology continues to have a massive impact on hotel design. Management styles are becoming more inclusive. Service models are changing too, according to what managers and executives think people want. Travellers have choices and they are vocal in making them.
Hotel managers shouldn’t feel compelled to make drastic or hasty changes though just because one guest says something, but they should be aware of how things are changing. It’s true that certain aspects of hotel management are fundamental. It will always be vital to be develop a strong team, keep standards high in the housekeeping department, get employees what they need, conserve resources, and practice truth in advertising. Making mistakes in these areas will always hurt performance.
Beyond that, what matters most in our industry is understanding what guests value, taking action to acknowledge this, and then capture the most business over the long haul. These issues emphasise that professional hospitality, whilst based on a set of established values is just like everything else these days – a conversation. For a hotel manager to thrive professionally and avoid costly mistakes, they have to join that conversation with a vested interest in understanding what their guests want and creating great guest experiences. So, how do you converse?
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