What is the role of the hotel GM? Two GMs share insights on what they do to improve the guest experience.
In 2009, I started in the hotel industry. Being an outsider who worked for many years in public relations and marketing, I thought the role of GM was a glamorized one from the movies. Boy, was I mistaken on the ever-evolving role that we play in bringing the hotel to life and how instrumental we are in how our guests experience the hotel.
Guests are surveyed; there’s no way around it. The question is where we play the part in how they experience our properties. Every guest is different. Everyone is here for a different experience through their own perspective. Our role is not to change what they want to see, but to make sure we deliver on it. The role of GM is constantly evolving. What makes us good at what we do is how quickly we can adapt.
It’s important to keep in mind what influences our guests’ decisions and make sure your brain plays the important questions over and over:
- What was the reason for their stay?
- How did they book their stay?
- Was the staff friendly? Do they care?
- Was the room comfortable?
- Why did they choose this hotel?
When we really think about and home in on why someone was here, it gives us a better idea how we can take care of them.
I reached out to several GMs for feedback and came up with 10 things you can do right now to positively influence your guest satisfaction. Credit to Aaron Osheroff, GM at Hyatt Place Chicago Loop. Aaron has been a GM for more than 10 years and in the industry for 18 years. Christopher Anderson, GM in Toronto, Canada, has been a GM for 12 years with 22 years in the industry. Both had a great deal to say to other GMs out there.
Prepare: Having some preselected activities for our leisure crowd has proven to help boost scores.
The “small stuff”: Our housekeeping team does an excellent job recognizing and looking for opportunities to set OUR team apart as well. Last year, we took a trip to Ikea and purchased fun “kids’ sheets” that we use when we know the pullout or second bed (in a QQ) is going to be used by a child. The greatest way to a parent’s heart is through the kids. But, they also think it's really awesome and we like that, too!
Communication: We use and set daily goals for our team with our texting service program. Guests are able to communicate directly with the team at the hotel even before they arrive. Setting goals ensures the use, and incentive ensures the participation of the team.
Engagement: My team is required to review the GSS feedback daily and it is discussed in each shift. We love to celebrate the wins and special recognition by guests, but also must look to button down the opportunities.
Guest service-focused: Each month, the department leaders select one initiative they believe will drive service in their department. Then they create a goal for the team and an incentive should they reach the goal.
Be present: I’m a firm believer in being the first one in and the last one out. Your team needs to respect you not by what you say but by what you do and the time you invest in the property and them personally.
Be the example: You’ve heard the saying, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The same applies to the work we do. I’ve found that most teams don’t truly know what great service is, looks like, or feels like because they haven’t experienced, nor have they been trained to see it or provide it.
Stop worrying about everything else: Deadlines are important, numbers are important, but your guest is the only true one who can fire you, as Sam Walton said. If you’re in operations and spend most of your time in the office, your scores are already suffering—get out there!
Do your part: If your property is struggling, what are you doing to change the direction?
Here’s your Lagniappe (as they say in my favorite city, New Orleans) that you didn’t ask for: Celebrate your successes with out-of-the-box ideas and in interesting ways.
As we all know, it’s a lot less expensive to take care of a return customer and keep the relationship fresh than it is to go out and get new business.
One poignant piece of advice from our maintenance associate at the Hyatt Place Garden City, Jean: “Know how to treat guests; make them feel welcome. I make it safe for them to be here. If they request something, I make sure they get it. If they have an issue with their room, I make sure to take care of it as soon as possible. The little things influence the guest.”
Celeste Johnson has more than 10 years of hospitality experience, working in many different roles within major brands including Hilton, Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels Corporation. Career highlights include opening Hampton Inn & Suites in Bellevue WA – the brand’s 2,000th property. Celeste is currently the general manager of Hyatt Place Garden City; she is specifically focused on blending operations, sales and revenue management with a passion in employee relations.
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