Communication with guests and employees rises to the top of the list of biggest issues facing these five general managers.
CHICAGO—HNN editorial director Jeff Higley sat down with five general managers of hotels managed by Hostmark Hospitality Group to tackle five topics affecting GMs everywhere. Each day this week, we’ll feature excerpts from the discussion.
What overall is the biggest issue that GMs face?
Brian Cooney, general manager, Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza
“Guests threatening on social media to get what they want. We’ve had a number of guests that—I can’t say everyone does this—but we have a lot that have learned through experience or things that they learned on the internet of how to get hotels to give them something, you know, either a comp room or free this, free that, do this, do that. And oftentimes they threaten ‘If I don’t get this I’m going to go out on Twitter or TripAdvisor’ or any of the sites … they’re very bold in threatening that. It’s something our social media manager is helping us with and getting ahead of some of that stuff. It’s unfortunately becoming an ugly part of our business, where guests feel they can do that and threaten the reputation of a hotel in order to get what they want.”
Dwight Miyakawa, general manager, Hampton Inn & Suites and Homewood Suites-West Loop (Chicago)
“The labor and development of future hoteliers. It is not the same as when I came in, 30 years ago. It was a much more formalized gradual development in the industry as you went through. We realize today that a lot of people are looking for a quicker path to the professional career and a different type of rewards system. We were just talking about it in one of our meetings—what can we do to help the people coming in to develop the skills that they need.”
Dennis Law, general manager, Holiday Inn Surfside Beach (South Carolina)
“I certainly echo what Brian said, and as I would say the labor. I’ve been in the business forever from when I started as a dishwasher. You put time in and you learned the position and you graduate and grew. There’s a need now for immediate gratification, and they get a degree and they come out and they expect to run the world. The thing that I found in my marketplace is the loyalty factor is not there like it was. They’re not looking to grow in your hotel. They’re looking for what they’re going to pay me $2,000 more. I had an employee the other day tell me, ‘You created the perfect environment, you did everything and I hate to leave here, but …’ It wasn’t a very long path with us, but a great employee. It became about pay. When you sat there and (did) everything right and you lose them, it’s kind of heartbreaking. You know, you’re trying to grow your team and (the competitor) purchased them. So you did the work and they went somewhere else. I’m seeing a lot of that.”
Mimi Varchi, general manager, Holiday Inn Cape Cod-Falmouth (Massachusetts)
“Our biggest challenge seems to be time. I operate a 98-room, full-service property that has the same expectations and standards as Brian’s property, as Dennis’ property. Same requirements for social media, for accounting, and we do it on a much more limited staff. So we, in turn, from a labor pool standpoint we have the tendency to have a little bit more turnover because of the amount of responsibilities and requirements that a smaller property requires. It becomes a very tricky balance in putting the pieces of the puzzle together of being able to create that experience for the guest and still take care of the administrative duties behind the scenes and payroll and HR.”
Jacque Raffaele, general manager, Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield
“Kind of echoing and blending their concerns and issues would be entitlement and leadership. The entitlement we see from our associates is at a level of ‘I’ve worked here for six months, why am I not a manager yet?’ It’s that instant-gratification factor. But we’ve created a society where everybody’s entitled. And what’s the limit of that? We’re in the business of hospitality—we’re bred to say yes, so when you’ve got your guests and your associates who feel entitled constantly, what is the limit and how do we do it in a way that we’re not giving in? You have the social media reputation piece. You’ve got the ‘I really need to have these rooms filled but this guest isn’t going to wait because I’m not going to give him 10,000 points every time he stays with me, he complains’ issue. At what point are we setting ourselves up for failure because we’re hospitable? And for our associates, we’re in hospitality but they’re entitled to their weekends off. They’re entitled to say ‘Well no, I’ve got to get going.’ There’s this huge lifestyle change that’s happening.”