Longboat GM talks operations, keys to success
Longboat GM talks operations, keys to success
26 FEBRUARY 2016 7:41 AM
Jeffrey Mayers, GM of The Resort at Longboat Key Club, discussed his thoughts on the resort business and team expectations.
For most, arriving in South Florida is a warm embrace of fresh summer air that hits you the moment you descend the airport gate ramp. 
Peak season for Floridian resorts runs pretty much full steam beginning in December and continuing through spring break, with near full occupancies and high average daily rate pretty much the norm. The resorts along the water are complicated entities, though, each featuring marquis amenities such as golf courses, tennis complexes, marinas, spas, children’s camps and a diverse array of food-and-beverage outlets. Often encompassing hundreds of acres, these resorts are always impressive in their own right.
Moreover, property management structures in these laid-back paradisiacal enclaves are increasingly horizontal, with the GM often wearing multiple hats and representing a combination of town mayor, urban planner and financial guru. It takes little time to realize that all senior managers require more than one hat to be successful. 
Thus, it was with great fortune that I had the opportunity to meet with Jeffrey Mayers, GM of The Resort at Longboat Key Club in Sarasota, Florida (an Opal Collection property), who graciously gave me several hours of his time during one of the busiest weeks of the year.
This resort is a town in its own right: 410 acres, 223 guest suites comprised of multiple long-term and short-term stay condo-style buildings (there are seven of them), 45 holes of  championship golf over two newly renovated  courses, 20 Har-Tru courts at the award-winning Tennis Gardens, eight restaurants and lounges offering casual to fine dining, an extensive spa operation, two pools plus a massive (Gulf-side) beachfront, a 291-slip marina, innovative children’s camp and extensive shuttle bus services. 
Mayers arrived at the Sarasota resort just over two years ago. My conversation with him reflected many sports and team-oriented metaphors. What follows is a series of abridged comments gleaned from several hours of conversation. Consider how these ideas could be applied to your business.
  • “In the resort business, every day is game day. Your team has to get it right, every time. The guest is paying for perfection.”
  • “An interesting aspect of our business is the co-mingling of resort guests and club members. Understanding the diversified and unique needs of each is essential to our success.”
  • “Membership satisfaction is of paramount importance. Our members participate in our process and we encourage this. Imagine running your hotel with a guest advisory board. Come to think of it, what a great idea for all.”
  • “We have a captive business. In other words, only our members and resort guests can dine at or use our facilities. This means that our resort guests are even more important to us; everyone has options to go and dine or golf elsewhere. Since our amenities are not public-facing, we can't advertise to the local community as a way to supplement restaurant covers or add golf rounds. We cannot take loyalty and legacy business for granted.”
  • “Silos kill our business. F&B, spa, tennis, golf and rooms all have to work together to ensure that the guest’s experience is seamlessly integrated. A bad experience in the restaurant can directly affect an ensuing round of golf or a service at the spa. Feelings, positive or negative, tend to amplify through the familiarity of our member base.”
  • “If you are the GM, consider your job as that of a conductor. Your role is to motivate, encourage and coordinate all the various elements of the symphony. If one instrument is out of tune, you can hear it in the final product. And you, as conductor, have to listen very carefully.”
  • “All staff must embrace guest service in every element of their job all of the time. A smile from pool maintenance staff or a housekeeper going out of his way with a little additional service will do wonders. It is incumbent on all management levels to foster this type of behavior.”
When asked about future plans, Mayers identified the meeting segment as a primary target for expansion and the main force of future industry growth in the next five to 10 years. Citing the opportunity to enhance low and shoulder season occupancies, he has embarked on a broad strategic plan to add new facilities to this impressive resort. Stay tuned for big things to come.
Larry Mogelonsky is the president and founder of LMA Communications Inc., an award-winning, full service communications agency focused on the hospitality industry (est. 1991). Larry is also the developer of Inn at a Glance hospitality software. As a recognized expert in marketing services, his experience encompasses Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, as well as numerous independent properties throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Larry is a registered professional engineer, and received his MBA from McMaster University. He’s also a principal of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants, an associate of G7 Hospitality and a member Laguna Strategic Advisors. His work includes three books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012) and “Llamas Rule” (2013) and “Hotel Llama” (2014). You can reach Larry at larry@lma.ca to discuss any hospitality business challenges or to review speaking engagements.
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