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Hotel managers can differentiate themselves by owning their culture, for starters

Primary Category: Opinions

When hotel markets are strong, everyone performs well. But when they are weak, there are winners and losers in any group of hotels. While we commonly compare brand, rate and product, one of the most impactful differentiators is leadership.

Here are four thoughts for hotel managers about the leadership that can differentiate you in this challenging time.

1. Own your culture
As a leader you decide, do you own your culture or does your culture own you? Owning your culture means you purposely engage your team to create and drive a positive culture that promotes all team members to success. We have all heard the saying that a happy team member equals a happy guest. But what is a happy team member? I believe one of the indicators of a happy team member is engagement. To promote engagement, does your employee satisfaction survey measure employee engagement? How do you engage employees in your interactions? Employee engagement means your team feels empowered, valued and able to thrive in a clear and transparent environment.

2. Harness the power of many
I’ve been assigned to many underperforming hotels. Each of these turnaround situations depended on bringing the team together early in the process and keeping that unity strong as the work continued. Not only did the hotels improve but in several cases these hotels achieved the highest revenue/GOP numbers in their history. I had to be a leader and an active team member by example. If I walked over a piece of trash in the hotel and ignored it, so did my team. If I showed interest in team members’ work, so did my team.
When I start at an underperforming hotel, the team is not on the same page; they are focused on the wrong results and not achieving their best. After consistently working with a team over a year or two, they become so different, full of confidence, focused and feeling great about their personal achievements. Bringing teams together leads to managers moving up and strengthening their own careers as well as their hotel’s performance.

3. Everyone watches the leader
While rising through the ranks, I quickly learned that everyone is always watching the leader. Now as a leader, I know what I do everyday matters. In insecure times like these, employees are particularly sensitive to a leader’s attitudes, emotions and body language. Even when hard, it is critical that as a leader I show I am willing to address the challenges and meet those situations with a can-do attitude and a confident manner. Employees then feel confident about working because they have a secure job in a stable business.

4. Remove the fear
Our industry has broken the faith of its employees with unprecedented layoffs and furloughs. As we reboot, we need to rebuild the faith that employees who work hard and deliver their side of the employment contract can count on a steady job to support themselves and their families. I quickly learned that if you have a closed door it can create fear in the workplace. With closed doors, especially after mass layoffs, everyone becomes more concerned with who is in the boss’ office and what is going on than being engaged in their own duties. I saw this as a common thread in all the hotels I took over in good times and bad. To move team members to be engaged and productive, I need to remove the fear by providing a transparent environment where there is reliable information and an open door. Then, the team can trust leadership and produce their best work.

I started as a front-desk clerk at the Conrad Hilton Suites in downtown Chicago, and every step up has been a lesson in leadership. Today, I run a hotel management company poised to grow. Valuing people, treating them well, showing transparency, sharing clear expectations and giving them the security to focus on their jobs has driven performance in our hotels.

Character is what you are when you think no one is looking. Leadership and character collide by nature. As a leader, you are always being observed by the people in your organization. You are the pace setter, the example, the ONE who gets to play a big role in steering the culture of the company. This is a vital role and has a magnificent impact on the bottom line for your hotel.

Ida Pesce is Principal and Founder of A&E Hospitality Group LLC. Ida has over 25 years of hospitality experience and a strong proven track record of success in sales, operations and revenue. She has served as Executive Vice President for a management company overseeing 19 hotel assets and a team of Vice President and Regional Vice President team members that created sustainable success throughout the organization. Prior to that Ida has worked for large management companies such as White Lodging, The Procaccianti Group, Interstate Hotel Group and more. As an expert in property turn around and repositioning, Ida and her teams have successfully repositioned several hotels from underperformance to performance that has never been obtained in the asset prior. Ida has experience with Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Starwood, Independent and Choice. Most of Ida's career has been with full-service hotels, but she has experience in select service and long term stay assets as well.

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Headline: 4 tips for hotel managers during unprecedented times

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