Industry Update
Opinion Article 2 September 2019

Four key components to being a successful Manager in the Hospitality Industry

By Todd M. Noftall, Hotelier

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Noftall

Let me start by stating the obvious. There are a lot more than just four key components to being a successful manager in the hospitality industry.

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I know that!

However, these four components, that I am going to focus on, are important to me and have played a critical role in my career thus far and they are essential elements of my management style. I believe that if you incorporate these four components into your regiment at work they will have a positive influence on your team and they will help you to achieve your customer service objectives.

MBWA - Manage By Walking Around

Get out of your office and get off your phone & computer and walk around your hotel. Walk through the lobby and the restaurant, at the peak meal periods, the banquet areas (if you have any) or simply just be in the common guest areas. Meet and speak with your guests. Get to know them and ask how they are enjoying their stay or, and more importantly, if they are having any issues or problems because that gives you the opportunity to resolve them.

Walk the floors. Speak with your Room Attendants and get to know them. Housekeeping is the hardest working department in a hotel and sometimes the most overlooked because they are downstairs in the basement. Interact with them and build on your relationship with them. They are important parts to your customer service strategy. They see and interact with guests on a very different level. The relationship they have your guests' is not transactional, as it is in the restaurant on even at the Front Desk, it is intimate and personal. They see your guests when they are going to the office, enjoying a day or two off work or taking their family on a tour of the city. They have a great opportunity to positively affect your guests stay.

Walking the floors also gives you the chance to inspect your guest floors and to be another set of eyes to look for any deficiencies. Things as simple as a burnt out hallway light or a small stain on the carpet or wallpaper will leave a negative impression on your guests' overall view of your hotel and they are so easily avoidable.

LBE - Lead By Example

This sounds simple and it is.

If you expect your team to smile and acknowledge every guest they interact with, then do it! If you want your Front Desk Agents to acknowledge, smile and greet every guest who walks by the front desk or walks off your elevator, then do it! If you want your guests to have a more personalized experience then you need to engage with your guests on that level.

No matter what your customer service philosophy is, if you do not live it and use it with every interaction you have with your guests why would you expect your team to do the same.

Hire the Passion & Train the Skill

I cannot say it any more clearly than this. The hospitality industry is a people business. Look for and hire those who have a passion to serve or a passion for customer service. You can train anyone for almost anything but you absolutely cannot train passion or personality.

I appreciate that this is a challenge in some markets. However, when we are too focused on experience and work history we tend to look over the cornerstone of our industry, which is the personal element. If someone has no FOSSE, OPERA, ONQ or PMS experience that should not automatically exclude them from the hiring process. Which is what AI applications do by the way. The hospitality industry is a people business and we need people who can relate and interact with other people. The obvious exception to this is when you are looking for a candidate with specific and required experience or knowledge like an Engineer or a Cook. Nevertheless, even with those positions, the personal element needs to be taken into account.

We can train individuals to use whatever property management system our hotel has and we can explain and review the operating procedures and policies. However, we cannot train people to be empathetic, compassionate, authentic or personable.

Always Celebrate

Birthdays, work anniversaries, Trip Advisor comments, guest survey mentions, guest comments, "going above and beyond".

There will always be a reason to celebrate so do not ever miss an opportunity to celebrate with your team. If your customer service philosophy includes personal and memorable experiences then live by example and make sure you personalize that experience with your team.

Todd M. Noftall

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