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Changing Face of the New Hotel General Manager

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

In the olden days, the General Manager was the friendliest face you saw when checking into a hotel. The host supreme, he was entrusted with the task of interfacing with the guests and making them feel at home. He accommodated your wishes, catered to your demands, and made troubles vanish into thin air. A competent General Manager was worth his weight in gold, and made all the difference between a good and great stay at a hotel!

Today, however, the genial General Manager is fast transforming into a power tool that takes care of various responsibilities, sometimes simultaneously. Gone are the days when he would stand in deference in the hotel lobby. This Jack-of-all-trades now has his fingers deeply and firmly embedded in not one but many pies and is adept at juggling his many roles with a quiet exterior and charming panache.

So what exactly does the new age General Manager do?

The short answer to that is ‘Almost everything!’

It’s true. From tasting food and ensuring top-notch room service to assuming a leadership role and guiding the team towards the company’s goal, the General Manager’s responsibilities are varied in nature and not restricted to any one division of the hotel.

Here’s a more detailed description of what is expected of a General Manager. In addition to overseeing day-to-day options, he’s in charge of…

  1. Building a vibrant organization
  2. Creating a distinctive work environment
  3. Establishing priorities and setting the goals of the company
  4. Spearheading innovative and strategic thinking
  5. Managing human resources and mapping their productivity
  6. Driving the team towards success by setting a personal example
  7. Maintaining the highest standards across all operations

There’s no denying that a General Manager has a lot on his plate. Each responsibility has to be executed with perfection and mistakes are not tolerated kindly in the hospitality industry. Accustomed to fighting fires every day, the General Manager goes around troubleshooting a wide range of problems without batting an eyelid. Safe to say, this job is not everyone’s cup of tea.

What characteristics are desirable in a General Manager?

The General Manager is one of the most respectable, demanding, and exacting positions in the industry. Not everybody can do justice to this role. It takes a person with considerable ingenuity to step into those shoes. Here are some of the traits you should look for in a prospective General Manager.

The Ability to Multi-task

This one makes it to the top of my list for obvious reasons. The typical workday of a General Manager is extremely complex since they are required to oversee so many things and. With equal alertness and perspicacity, they have to supervise guest relations, housekeeping, front desk, finances, F&B set up, compliance, employee evaluation, and any events that may be happening in the hotel. Unless he has excellent time management skills and organizational talents, a General Manager will never be able to rise up to the occasion and keep things together.

Professional Troubleshooting

Most people who land up at a hotel for a lazy getaway are completely oblivious of the chaos playing out behind the scenes. All they see is a haven of peace, luxury, and indulgence functioning like well-oiled machinery, while attends rush to fulfill any wish or demand they may have.

All this is possible, in large part, to the General Manager and his common sense, quick thinking, and the creative and practical solutions he comes up with for every day problems that crop up. Anything that can go wrong does go wrong, and it’s the General Manager’s decisiveness that allows him to avert disasters and keep things working like clockwork in the hotel.

Adaptability & the Desire to Learn

The hospitality sector is one of the fastest evolving sectors in the world. Technology, policies, government legislation, and local politics all contribute towards the changing of times, and it falls upon the General Manager to foresee these changes and prepare for them.

In my experience, the best General Managers are those who welcome the new. Instead of being frightened, they’re curious about the developments taking place in the industry. They’re well-informed and, despite their hectic schedule, they find a way to stay abreast of industry news and trends. By doing so, they ensure that no latest innovation gets by them. They apply their knowledge to work so that their hotel moves with the times and adapts continually.

Teaching & Mentoring

We’ve already established that a General Manager should constantly be amassing knowledge related to the industry and his position. But it’s also important that he passes on what he’s learned to his team, so that they’re equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to work efficiently and independently. Few things are more frustrating and draining for him than to micromanage all the tasks that fall in his lap. For the hotel to function optimally, the staff has to display initiative. This can only happen if they’ve been mentored properly and taught how to be resourceful and quick-witted.

Like I mentioned earlier, a good General Manager is a valuable asset to any hotel and selecting the right one is no mean task. Given the complex nature of the position, I would always recommend that you ‘grow’ your own executives. This allows you to select from within the ranks and prepare somebody who’s familiar with the working of your hotel for the managerial role.

However, that may not always be possible, and you may have to fall back on traditional ways of searching for someone competent to take over the role of a General Manager.

When doing so, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Always bring in someone who knows the business, the industry, and the people involved. Unless you’ve got a very small establishment, the General Manager will not be able to learn everything fast enough to carry out his responsibilities competently.
  • Look beyond the management training courses, seminars, or workshops the candidate may mention on his resume. In my experience, these programs tend to emphasize too much on the importance of formal quantitative tools, which, though relevant, are hardly integral to the job at hand.
  • Scan the potential candidate for the qualities we talked about earlier. They’re just as important as the qualifications and experience the prospect brings to the table.

Finally, when you find the right candidate and welcome him onboard, allow him /her at least three to six months to collect information, build a network, establish relationships, and set the direction for the team. Do not assign pet projects or specific tasks in this duration. It will be counterproductive and divert attention from his main goals of driving the team to success.

A good General Manager is integral to the smooth functioning of a hotel. He works behind the scene to offer a pleasant and hassle-free experience to guests and patrons. On his discretion stands the reputation of the hotel and on his efficiency depends all other divisions. So make sure you invest time and effort in selecting the right candidate for the job, for he’s the one who will lead the establishment to its ultimate vision.

Top Mistakes In Advertising & How To Avoid Them: Part 2 of a 10 Part Series: Plan Your Ad Timing

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

As we saw in Article Number One, Testing remains front and centre the most important, powerful and effective thing you can do to help your advertising. Regardless of the budget, the message, or the media placement you make.

You need to test and test and keep testing because there is going to be an opportunity for improvement, however modest, in each and every ad.

Those cumulative changes can be absolute gold showing you what your customers want and need, and are prepared to put their hand up for.

Now that you have testing ingrained and under your skin it’s going to be part and parcel of every ad moving forward, correct? Good. I’m thrilled to learn that you’re onboard with that.

The next most frequent hiccup I’ve witnessed through the years, I’ll define as Mistake Number Two in my 10 part series and that is far too many advertisers are jumping in at any time without rhyme and reason, not thinking if this is the best seasonality to be in front of the target.

Yes, I understand very few advertisers can afford to be there all the time running their campaign at full throttle, and that’s not unexpected. In truth, you have to have some rather deep pockets to keep an campaign going all of the

time. You can quickly make yourself broke if you keep marketing, but not testing to see if the ads are working.

The whole idea is salesmanship. That goes back to John E. Kennedy in 1904.

His story starts in a saloon, where most good ones should start. In 1904, he sent a note to Albert Lasker, the new young President of Lord & Thomas ad agency… Let’s go back 110+ years

At only 23, Albert Lasker had already earned enough money from salary and bonuses to buy Daniel Lord’s shares when Lord retired. One day, he was sitting in Ambrose Thomas’s office and a secretary handed a note to Thomas that said:

“I am downstairs in the saloon. I can tell you what advertising is. I know you don’t know. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word ‘Yes’ down with the bellboy. Signed – John E. Kennedy.”

Thomas scoffed at the note, but Lasker was intrigued and sent the word ‘Yes’ down to the saloon. Kennedy was shown into Lasker’s office.

He was a strapping 6-foot tall, ex-Mountie who used to write ads for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Could he be more Canadian?

When Kennedy asked Lasker if he knew what advertising was,

Lasker said, “I think so. It’s news.”

Kennedy said no, news was just a technique. The secret to advertising, Kennedy said, can be summed up in just three words:

“Salesmanship in print.”

Those three words would change the advertising world forever…

“Salesmanship in print” was an epiphany to the advertising world in 1904.

Essentially, Kennedy was saying that advertising had to persuade.

It had to give people reasons to buy the product. It had to convince.

Up until then, all advertising was just straight facts. Here’s the product, here’s what it costs.

MORE of this story can be found at the link at the end of this article:

That’s kinda why you’re marketing isn’t it?

Regardless of what you’re selling, a product or service, you want to sell something. so make sure every ad is a sales opportunity for you.

Here’s what I’d like you to do.

Maybe some of you are already doing this and if so that’s fantastic, because it will give you a much better understanding of your spending and your planning.

The biggest challenge for many advertisers is not anticipating when their best sales periods are going to be. They end up jumping at every advertising

opportunity from each well-intended media sales person, who comes through the door. In the majority they are all very good people and I have some wonderful relationships with many of my sales reps going back decades, which is amazing.

They have become true allies for me in making a campaign, which works incredibly hard for my clients. I applaud them and I continue to do business with them.

Please understand their mandate is to sell. To sell the advertising space or time or placement. They want to see you do well but they also want to see some money. Remember it is in their interest to get you to advertise as often as possible with their publication, their website, their outdoor board, their radio station, and kudos to them, they should be.

But that can really stretch a budget if you’re trying to be there all the time, and you’re not sure what you should be doing. So here’s a simple tip that will really help crystallize for you what your timings should be like.

I want you to map out an entire year on a spreadsheet. Oh it can be any fiscal if you prefer but for simplistic sake I try to stick to a calendar, January to December.

I want you to pick any two sales periods. If you have more, that’s great but two is easier to work with. So the times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability, will determine the key sales potential period.

Let’s say April and May for spring and then November and December for winter are your best sales carrots. I actually have several clients in different industries where that is exactly the case. Those are the pivotal periods for them. What I want you to do is devote up to 50% of your annual ad budget to support these two windows.

That’s where perhaps upwards of 80% of your business is coming from. You should be giving those two key periods the best opportunity to maximize your exposure.

I encourage you to put much of your marketing muscle in these periods because

they are driving the majority of your revenue. These are the key times that you want to be making sure your name is out there on an ongoing basis, and they will get your most attention and your most support.

Okay, with those in place, the remaining eight months of the year will share the

remaining 50% of the budget. Perhaps you devote 30% to six months and 20% to the final two months.

You can allocate that as you feel comfortable, and as your cash flow allows. In my experience, this gives you an opportunity to have sustained presence, to have even some modest exposure, so you’re always on your prospects radar.

You don’t have to be running full-throttle all the time. This allows you to ramp up your presence in the four heaviest months split between spring and winter.

You have maybe six months that are second tier and that need some increased support. Importantly, they’re not the same demand requirements as your key period, so you don’t have to have your foot on the pedal quite as aggressively through those time blocks. The intensity is not as critical as your primary periods.

Then look to the lightest months for some advertisers, often the summer window, June through August. That’s when people are at last vacationing, or not really thinking of work because the outdoor beckons, those might be your lighter periods.

Please keep some spending out there, you don’t want to lose all of the equity and all of the awareness that you’ve built up through your spring periods.

Remember you want to have some ongoing presence, however modest, just to make sure that your key audience knows that you’re still in there pitching. Your lightest months can just be a sustaining presence.

The times where you have some sales history showing you your best months, your products’ seasonal applicability will determine the key sales potential period. Bear in mind, this is only one of many deployment strategies I’ve discovered.

I’ve had the great good fortune of working with both large and small ad agencies and working with some advertisers who had very modest budgets, and some of who have very deep pockets.

You don’t have to spend more than your competition. Certainly it helps to increase your media exposure when you have multiple opportunities there. However, you just have to spend smarter, at the right times. So take the time to map out on a calendar what your key sales periods are and maybe those are Spring & Fall. Maybe, just pre-Christmas, but take the time to find out.

Heads-up, this is probably the single biggest advertising tip I can give you.

Importantly, Plan and Buy Early. Planning months in advance, you will save yourself an enormous amount of grief. No less critical, you will save an enormous amount of money by booking early. I can’t stress that enough. You can save from 30% to 50% or more by buying EARLY.

So take the time to Plan Your Campaign Timing Carefully and Spend Smarter.

It’s been my privilege. Thank you. Dennis Kelly

Details about Albert Lasker: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/undertheinfluence/summer-series-the-most-interesting-adman-in-the-world-the-story-of-albert-lasker-1.4120833