BCG Logo

How Not To Manage A Hotel ? Team Building


05 Jan 2013

In my over four decades of working in the hospitality industry in a number of countries, I have gained mixed feelings on professionalism by witnessing various styles of functioning. Some sweet and a few sour ones. This article, the first in the series, is intended to address both styles, the sweet ones must know that if they lose the path what lies on the other side and the sour one to note that with a slight change in their management approach what harvest could be reaped.


One operates hotels or for that matter, any business, with the sole objective of generating profits and growing profits to sustain future growth, unless one is in business to book losses for reasons best known to them.  We all understand that the most important person who can influence the business is the customer, if he is happy and satisfied with the product and services, he comes back again and again and if he is not, he comes to you twice, the first and the last time. It is for the owner or the manager to choose the option. The success mantra is to ensure that he keeps coming back.


If you want to achieve success, here are a few people management styles you should avoid.


People management – team building


Select the cheapest; remember, you are cost conscious, not a miser. “What is in paying more, why should I throw my money down the drain?”,   “Select people with qualifications? What is in a degree, it is enough that they can communicate with the guest”, in any case everyone needs training, and you will train them in technical skills. At the end of the day, add up the savings that you made by selecting substandard staff. Leave the training aspect to the manager, if he cannot train, fire him; get someone who can train people to your requirements.


If you confront a smart candidate during selection process, let him know that you are smarter because you are the owner. Ask him a question like “okay, let’s see, now tell me how would you sell an elephant to me”, ask him his salary expectation. Shower him with you smile while he replies to you. Offer him half of what he asked for. Don’t stop here; convince him that he does not deserve what he has asked for. Ask him okay, I will give you what you have asked for “but what will you give me in return?” Chances are that he will look baffled, now go for the kill, and tell him “that is precisely why you deserves only half  as you cannot commit even the returns to me”.


Now let’s say you have succeeded in your approach and a new sales manager has joined you. Your first task should be to communicate to him in your style, that you are the boss and the buck stops with you, you call the shots on rates and type of business.  So call him to your office on a Monday morning at 10 am sharp. Once your secretary informs you that Mr. Sales Manager is here to see you, tell him to wait, there is no hurry, he is your employee and it is your time. So, finish your early morning coffee leisurely, finish the crossword that you are mid way through and then call him in. Of course you are courteous, ask him to take a seat and start your meeting with him. You should ask him about the market, business, and competition and give him your perception on these topics. Keep smiling all the while. Keep your frowns reserved for use down the line, the meeting has just begun, you are softening the manager.


It  is almost certain that the manager will communicate about the tough market condition, the unholy competitive atmosphere, unethical rate war to woo the customer and  of course the shortage of people under him, non cooperation from other departments and his efforts to do the best despite all these odds.  Now, now this is what you were waiting to hear because you love to reply to these so called “excuses”. Tell him precisely what you feel about them, let the market be tough, let the competition be rough but where on earth a guest is going to get a product like this, tell him not to compare this hotel with any other, they have no product, no style and no standards, remind him that “we have no competition in the market”. Don’t stop here, you should also settle the price front once and for all, tell him that if he wants to offer the room for $ 100, he is not required as you could put a “rate sign” outside the hotel and fill it up. With this you have achieved what you wanted to. But wait, the meeting is not over as yet. What would the people outside think if the meeting is over in 45 minutes of its start. So continue…


Your next topic should be to brief him on some golden principles of selling that you feel are worth their weight in gold. The manager must be made to understand that you are the boss not only because you are the owner but you are also wiser by virtue of deeper knowledge that you possess in managers area of functioning. Here you would teach him the way he should perform his functions, maintain reports and records and submit them to you. On a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Remember to insert in between a few words of wisdom the master sentence “well these are my views, but you are the professional and know how to do your job best”, let him think between the options, after all thinking throws the best alternatives. Your meeting is not over before you make Mr. Sales Manager understand his reporting relationship. Here, you call in the General Manager, let him also join.


Once the General Manager comes, tell him that you know and understand that his time is very important and cannot be wasted, hence you are not inviting him to sit, let him continue to stand; Let Mr. Sales Manager feel “Oh! My, I am sitting and my boss standing, okay, I see things”. Tell the General Manager that you had to call Mr. Sales Manager directly to brief him about the hotel and his functions, a job that he should have done. Anyway, make sure that the General Manager gets the message that Mr. Sales Manager is reporting to you and not him. That’s how you make your team; you are the owner, the boss and it has to be your team. After all let’s agree that a ship can have only one captain.


So at last, the official agenda is over, but what, you forgot the finishing touches, look at these hoteliers, they call it “garnishing”,  “let me apply some”. Getting up from you chair, inform Mr. Sales Manager that he could look for a rewarding career with you provided he came up to your expectations and suddenly, as if you have remembered something, ask him “ how many calls did you do today?’, answer obviously is going to be that he could not have made any calls as he was sitting with you all this time. Here give your “bouncer garnish” “what, today is Monday!, my God, you should have told me in the morning, how much business I have lost, now this is what I call as an excuse, no..No”, and in the same breath add, “tell me which days you don’t make calls”, “Sir on Saturdays and Sundays”, “ Okay, let’s meet on every Sunday, say 4 pm, it is settled, and inform your the General Manager, your boss also, he should be present in these meetings”.


Don’t you see how smart you are, killing multiple birds with one stone, and think what you got, now both will work 7 days a week, a 28% discount on their salaries. This sets the agenda for the Sunday’s meeting, to extend it to 24x7.


Ram Gupta is a management professional with specialization in hospitality, real estate, product and e-marketing. He has over four decades of experience in Asia, Far East, Middle East and Europe. He has been associated with over two dozen hotel projects and a number of upscale spas. His web site can be viewed at http://www.bcgglobal.com and can be contacted at ramgupta@bcgglobal.com