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How Not To Manage A Hotel Part ? 2, Technical Skills


03 Oct 2012

 I have always believed that every industry, business and profession requires certain specialized traits, skills and attributes in those who are engaged in its management. If that was not so, would we have needed education for churning out medical doctors or nuclear physicists or for that matter a sound or an auto engineer? Imagine a scenario when possession of a knife, thread and needle would be the qualification to perform a cardiac surgery, would you be surprised then, if the patient died. No, absolutely not.


Yet you come across instances where you are compelled to say “how unprofessional”. Why do you say so, because your expected experience from a particular profession was not delivered? These things happen if people attempt to practice a profession without acquiring the skills or experience needed in that particular industry. Many professions are victims of something called “We all can do it, no skills needed” syndrome.


One such profession, unfortunately is the hospitality industry and within that especially the “hotels”.  If you own or plan to own or manage or plan to manage a hotel, you will be well advised to avoid doing things enumerated in this article, the second in the series, how not to manage a hotel.


It is so easy to manage a hotel.


Let’s understand what a hotel does. It provides temporary shelter to travelers for a night, a week or a month or for a period agreed between the hotel and the traveler. In addition the hotel provides food and beverages to the traveler who after check in is called a guest. Further some hotels also provide for their guests a swimming pool, a gym or spa facility and some more advanced hotels also have a room called the business center. This all seems so very simple. What skills do you need? In your own house haven’t you ever received visitors, don’t you serve them food, have a drink in the evening, ask them to get a soothing massage in the massage chair  you got last Christmas and you even allowed “Bob” to use your laptop to check his mails. The only difference is that you did not present a bill to them. But they all went back so happy; thanked you and Barbara again and again for your hospitality. In fact they have even expressed their desire to visit you this fall also.


Now you know the secrets of hotel management. It only needed a spark. Your hotel will be an extension of your home, ten times bigger. Well you can manage it. After all preparing and presenting a bill at the end of the stay is not a big deal for you.


I know it all syndromes


I feel this syndrome germinates from the first one. Your belief that hotel management does not require any specialized skills then, you know that “you know it all”. Unfortunately this syndrome is the key factor in the creation of a bad product or sub standard service delivery. While you are very proud of the hotel you have just created, are you sure that this would give desired comforts to the guests? Let’s examine what you have created. Yes the room number seems to be at the right place, except that at night you cannot read it as you have placed the light between the two rooms to illuminate the floor but a guest would need a candle to find his room. You have provided a very expensive wardrobe, but what is this, the safe is kept on the top shelf at over five and half feet height. How would people use it especially the female guests. And did you forget to provide a laptop charging socket, no, here it is? Oh ho, the guest has to only pull out the writing table and plug in the socket that is provided behind the table top. We understand you did not want to spoil the room aesthetics by providing a socket at a visible height,  that would have looked so ugly. You can go on into other areas of the room discovering surprises after surprise. Needless to say, you can expect to encounter same wonders throughout the hotel.


My wife is the best chef, housekeeper and horticulturist


Yes no doubt she is. She cooks for you and your children, keeps the house neat and tidy and tends to the garden daily. Of course you move the lawn every weekend. Agreed that while she cooks daily, all the three meals for the five of you and at times for your friends who get invited for the weekend barbecue, she could easily manage a hotel kitchen that is just ten times bigger than your house kitchen. The most important fact that you have overlooked is that while at home you cook one menu for everyone, in a hotel restaurant, ten guests will demand ten different menu combinations which unfortunately Barbara cannot handle. One could imagine the resulting confusion without much effort.


What I like must be liked by the guests

You like the color red, no problem, paint the hotel red from inside to outside. You like soups and salads, stuff your menu with all the soups and salads you could find. Thrust your taste, choice, liking and will on the guests and keep wondering why your rooms and restaurants are empty. Remember your family likes what you like out of compulsion or respect, they don’t have a choice, but a guest has the choice to go to another hotel where he gets what he wants. He is paying so he is the master!


I will communicate my way


You are very particular about signage’s; you don’t like signs spoiling the interiors of the hotel that you have so painstakingly designed yourself and you hate your managers put-up temporary signs in the lobby if your gym in closed for maintenance. So what if the guest walks up to the gym and discovers that the gym is closed, heavens would not fall, after all walking is good for health. You should not wonder if your guest whom you gave a walking exercise up to your closed gym decides to take a longer walk to the next hotel.  Always remember that the guest is paying you for his comforts and not yours.


I will sell the hotel on my own terms


Yes we all know, in fact the entire market knows that you don’t dilute your rates irrespective of the rates at which the competition is selling the rooms in the market. If the market is selling rooms say at $ 100/- you will not offer your rooms below $ 200/-, after all your rooms and your product is far superior to that of the competition. You have taken great pains in designing each and every corner of your hotel yourself, how can you undersell it. You don’t care about the occupancy or the revenue, all that you care about is that your rates should not be diluted as you believe that reduced rates attract ‘riff-raff” guests, who you hate. Remember those who want to carve out a special niche for themselves; have to have an exceptionally good product acceptable to the guest.


I will choose my own guests


You have given strict instructions to the sales and front desk people that people from certain professions, industries of social groups cannot be given rooms irrespective of the rate they are willing to pay. These instructions have to be followed even if you were at a zero percent occupancy. After all your concern is your reputation.  One must remember that the guests have other options in the market.


Guests must know how to use my hotel


You strongly feel that you get guests who break things, misuse facilities and become a nuisance to the hotel. You have often charged breakage to the guest although he vehemently denied having broken your lamp. You strongly feel that the guests must first learn how to use your hotel before checking in.


This is not the end of the long list of how not to manage a hotel but a few to demonstrate how one could convert a potentially profitable enterprise into a liability. The other side of the story is not only encouraging but also promising. I would feel very happy and professionally satisfied if even one such enterprise could come back on track after reading this summary of experience.


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