How to become a better hotel manager: Tips, tricks and advice

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Sep 16, 2020 | Hotel Management | Reading Time: 9 minutes

*This article was contributed by Paris D’Alessandro, General Manager at Quest Liverpool City Centre

The role of a hotel manager is an incredibly varied one, and for many leading hotel managers, no two days are ever the same. While this does make the role a hugely inspiring and motivating one, it also means that success requires a very broad set of skills.

The best hotel managers are hugely experienced in a wide range of different areas, and have plenty of tips and tricks up their sleeves. From managing budgets to motivating team members, hotel managers need to be able to do it all.

Whether you’re an experienced hotel manager looking to brush up on your knowledge, or you’re a budding hospitality team member hoping to rise through the ranks, there are plenty of ways to improve.

Focus on skills that develop your leadership potential, and try to gain a more thorough understanding of the most important aspects of your business. Dedicate your time to improving your budgeting skills, understanding how to motivate team members and ensuring that nothing that happens in your hotel escapes your notice.

If you want to put your hotel on the map, you should also be keeping an eye out for emerging trends, and making sure you’re in the know when it comes to all things hospitality. Do this well and you’ll soon be able to spot the next big thing before it happens, and consistently impress both your guests and your team members.

Be present in your hotel

All too often we hear of hotel managers so swamped by admin duties that they spend the vast majority of their time in the office. And while hotel managers do need to be at their desk from time to time, neglecting time in the hotel to get ahead on paperwork is often a mistake.

Hotel managers need to know their hotel inside out. They need to know how different processes work, how teams interact with each other and where any problem areas might lie. They need to be able to spot an issue before a guest does and make sure that all team members are fulfilling their duties with the utmost care and attention. And that can’t be done from a desk.

A good hotel manager should be spending a considerable proportion of their day in the hotel, observing all that goes on – and talking to guests and staff. There’s no substitute for time spent in the hotel, so make sure you’re present!

Motivate team members

The ability to manage and motivate a team is one of the key responsibilities of a hotel manager, and it’s absolutely essential if the business is to be a success. It’s no secret that a well-motivated team will always outperform an apathetic one, and in hospitality staff motivation really matters.

Great leadership skills start with the ability to motivate, inspire and engage. Focus on ways to get staff on board with your ideas, and make sure they’re excited about the future of the business. Give staff opportunities to grow within the business, and retain top talent by providing a clear pathway to promotions, bonuses and other rewards.

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Work on your communication skills

Top hotel managers are always great communicators, and there’s a simple reason for this. It’s impossible to succeed in leadership without outstanding communication skills. Hotel managers are, in essence, leaders, and therefore communication couldn’t be more important.

Before thinking about how to become a better hotel manager, it’s sometimes worth taking things back to basics and thinking instead about how to communicate more effectively. Look into ways of improving your communication skills, by simply practicing different techniques or enrolling in a local course. Try out your new communication strategies with your team, and work on the most effective ways of getting your message across.

Make budgets a priority

Managing budgets might not sound like the most exciting part of being a hotel manager, but it can’t be avoided. Hotel managers have overall responsibility for all budgets, even if those budgets are being managed by other key personnel within the business. And that means that a good hotel manager needs to be able to understand the figures at a glance, and spot any issues quickly.

Hone those mathematics skills and get to grips with the latest budgeting software to ensure that you’re never in the dark. Check in on spreadsheets regularly and don’t be afraid to ask if anything isn’t adding up. No matter how great your team might be, you’ll need to keep an eye on budgets and make sure hotel funds are being managed efficiently and effectively.

Reward great service

Don’t become complacent once you have a team of experienced, knowledgeable staff on board. Great team members will keep everything running smoothly, but issues can quickly arise if you start to lose staff to competitors. To avoid this, focus on staff retention and make sure your team members feel valued, motivated and listened to.

According to a report published by Work Institute, it costs on average a third of a worker’s annual salary to replace them. Just think about the amount of time and energy that goes into training every member of staff, and you’ll soon realize why it’s so important to keep those talented team members on board.

Think about how to improve the experience of every member of staff. Pay attention to their achievements, and make sure they’re rewarded for going above and beyond. Don’t overlook top members of staff; if you do they could soon be snapped up by a competitor.

Hire the top talent in your industry

Hiring new members of staff is an important part of any manager’s role, and it’s one that’s often harder than you think. If you need to replace staff, or you’re looking to fill brand new roles, you’ll need to think very carefully about recruitment.

Dedicate plenty of time to searching for the right person, and make sure you’re asking the right questions once it comes to the interview process. To make sure your company attracts the best in the business, you’ll also need to show new recruits why they should come and work for you. Make some noise about your great rewards schemes, employee benefits and other perks to ensure that your business is an attractive one to work for.

Keep an eye on emerging trends

Subscribe to industry newsletters, follow competitors on social media and visit headline-grabbing hotels to learn from them. Keep an eye on the latest and greatest hospitality innovations, and start thinking about how you could use these new ideas to improve your hotel.

Often, inspiration strikes when we least expect it, so make sure you’re fully briefed on emerging hospitality trends and know all about the most intriguing new ideas from the industry. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make the most of the exciting hospitality apps, software and tech to improve guest experiences and make life easier for your team.

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🎧 Check out our Hotel Cast Podcast on Spotify

Take responsibility for problems

Being a hotel manager isn’t all fun and games! Inevitably, things will go wrong at some point. But it’s how these problems are handled that sets great managers apart. A good hotel manager is one who is prepared to take responsibility for problems and tackle any issues head on. Don’t shy away from issues that are affecting your staff or guests, make sure you know all about the problem and are prepared to take responsibility.

Ultimately, it’ll be down to you to ensure that issues are resolved in a timely manner, and no staff or guests are left with a bad feeling. If you manage to resolve the problem quickly, you may well find that guests leave impressed by your handling of the matter, and that this completely overshadows any disappointment that they may have initially had about the problem.

Provide opportunities for staff to grow

A study published by Go2HR found that 40% of employees who haven’t received adequate training will leave the company within their first year. If you’re hiring the top talent from your industry, it’s inevitable that your team members will be ambitious professionals looking to grow. Neglect this and you may find that staff turnover starts to rise.

Keep staff on board by providing plenty of training opportunities and making sure that their professional aspirations are achievable within your company. Take the time to listen to their goals, and where possible arrange for training to help them improve their skills. Not only will this benefit the business in terms of staff retention, it’ll also ensure that the staff you do have are better trained and more able.

Spend time with all members of staff

Getting to know your team is so important. Not only is a good understanding of your team essential if you want to ensure that everything is running as it should, it’s also vital if you want to provide great leadership.

Many hotel managers communicate well with senior staff but aren’t quite as conscientious when it comes to spending time with junior team members. Break the mould and dedicate a certain amount of time every week to getting to know different teams in the business.

There are plenty of benefits to doing this. Firstly, you’ll gain a much better understanding of how different roles and responsibilities work together. You’ll also open new channels of communication. This could encourage more junior members of staff to share observations and opinions, something which they might not have had the confidence to do before.

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Get to know your guests

Understanding your team is vital, but so is understanding your audience. Get to know your guests by being present in the hotel as much as possible, and spend time chatting to customers as they move through the building.

Give guests opportunities to tell you about any issues they might have had, and also to share glowing feedback and stories of outstanding service. Feedback is crucial when it comes to improving the business and paving the way for future growth, and there’s no better way to learn about your audience than by talking to customers face to face.

Embrace the power of social media

Take note of marketing opportunities and get the word out about your hotel. Whether you’re running a boutique hotel and managing social channels yourself, or you’re heading up a much larger business with its own marketing department, you’ll need to be in the know when it comes to social media.

Oversee updates, photography, competitions and other communication from your team and ensure that the image your social channels present is the right one. Social media can also be invaluable when it comes to gathering feedback and monitoring the opinions of your guests. Keep an eye on tagged posts and your hotel’s hashtags and take note of any opportunities to improve guest experiences in the future.

<< Check Asksuite’s Webinar: Hotel Marketing strategies to increase direct bookings, with hotel experts Rupesh Patel and Allan Nelson where we discuss the best hotel marketing strategies that will guide you to more bookings, especially when travel demand is so low and hotels are operating with fewer resources. [Request on-demand here]

Be prepared to dedicate plenty of time to the business

Hotel management isn’t a 9-5 job. If you’re going to succeed, you’ll need to be prepared to really commit. A hotel manager is often on call for any major problems, and may well be required to get to the hotel at a moment’s notice to deal with any problems guests might be experiencing.

The best hotel managers are those that embrace their role with enthusiasm and are more than willing to spend a large proportion of their time making sure the entire business is the best it can be. Inevitably, this means that hotel managers tend to work long hours, and will usually spend some of their downtimes improving their professional skills and learning from others. But don’t be put off by this, because hotel management is also hugely rewarding, particularly if you’ve worked hard to get to the top.

Do your research

Even the most dedicated hotel managers are entitled to some time off, but the very best managers never truly switch off. Whether you’re out at a restaurant, you’re relaxing in a bar or you’re enjoying a massage at a spa, you should always keep your eyes open for new ideas that could benefit your business.

If you’ve been impressed by great service while out and about, think about why it made such a good impression and how your team could replicate it. Spotted a new app that you think might work for your hotel? Make a note of it and share it with team members at your next meeting. There are learning opportunities everywhere you look. Make the most of them.

How to be a better hotel manager?

Hotel management is one of the most diverse and interesting roles that the hospitality industry has to offer, and that’s one of the reasons why these roles prove so fulfilling. But if you want to be a great hotel manager, you’ll need to put the hours in. Spend as much time as you can perfecting the top skills that great hotel managers need, and you’ll soon notice the results both personally, and for your business as a whole.

Our top tip for aspiring hotel managers? Never stop learning. The hospitality industry never stands still, and neither should you. Keep ahead of the game and make sure your hotel is the one to watch.

 profile-picture-paris-dalessandroAbout the author: Paris D’Alessandro, General Manager at Quest Liverpool City Centre:
An experienced GM, D’Allessandro has worked in the hospitality industry for 18 years, 15 of them in Liverpool. His experience spans handling property openings for leading brands including Premier Inn, Jurys Inn, Days Inn, and latterly, Epic Apart Hotels where he spent four years as group GM.

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