Managing a hotel requires an innate ability to multitask and be flexible. You must be able to instantly switch gears from customer service to staff management to high-level marketing and event planning. It’s your job to make sure the customers are happy and safe during their stay at the hotel, which means you’re in charge of how clean the rooms are and how well the facility is maintained.
Before you can manage the various departments, you must know what the people in those departments do. Clean a room to see how long it takes and what tasks are essential. Work the front desk to understand how many customer complaints and issues are handled by your staff that you never hear about. You may think you handle too many customer complaints, but it’s likely your front desk staff handles the majority of the issues without needing your help. Spend time with your maintenance manager, valet manager and your cook to learn what goes on in a typical day. Having these experiences makes you a better manager in two ways: you have hands-on knowledge, which allows you to put employees‘ concerns and complaints in perspective, and the staff respects you more because they know you have that knowledge. To effectively manage a hotel, you must have the support and respect of the staff and you must know how to prioritize issues when several arise at once.
Delegation is key to the daily management of a hotel. The manager oversees all the departments, but the staff should report to a department head instead of to the hotel manager. Meet daily, but briefly, with the department heads to discuss anything of interest that day. For example, mention that every room is full so the housekeeping staff work as fast as possible, or remind the chef that there’s a conference in the ballroom that needs 100 lunches by noon. If the maintenance supervisor needs to make repairs in a room, he can share that information with housekeeping so they don’t clean until the repairs are finished. Let the department heads manage their staff, but maintain oversight by randomly popping in while a room is being cleaned to check the level of professionalism or by checking on repairs in progress. The more you interact with the staff, even if they don’t report to you, the more accountable they feel to do a good job every time.
Because of the scope of a hotel manager’s job, there’s no way you can run the hotel alone. Having trained staff is vital when making sure guests have a comfortable and pleasant stay. Many members of the hotel staff are considered blue collar, where no formal education is required to perform the job duties. This often means they don’t get paid very much, sometimes minimum wage or slightly higher. That doesn’t make their jobs any less important; rooms must be cleaned properly, the wait staff must know the menu and proper serving procedures and the front desk personnel must be friendly and courteous even when guests become irate. Develop a reward system to keep your staff motivated, which makes your job easier. Have each department vote on a top performer of the week, or provide a small financial reward to any staff member who spots a maintenance issue before you do. The rewards don’t have to be big; even small rewards go a long way toward making your staff content with their jobs and motivated to work hard.
To effectively manage the hotel, you must be able to plan several months in advance for upcoming promotions and events. Bringing in new business is essential to the success of the hotel. In the summer, start planning your marketing for the city’s holiday festival of lights. In the winter, start calling the event planners of the upcoming summer professional conference to try to become one of their preferred hotels. Develop a relationship with wedding planners and nearby venues, and offer an attractive package for wedding guests that includes amenities not available at other hotels, such as shuttle service to and from the wedding.