If someone were to ask me the most important quality of an effective hotel manager, it would be the ability to communicate clearly with hotel staff, superiors, peers, and guests. I believe that being a good communicator is an under-rated quality that needs to be emphasized in this new age of electronic communication.
Most people would agree that communicating, in a meaningful way, is a learned art and not necessarily a natural skill. The true leaders, in our industry, are those individuals who consider the art of clear communication as an essential part of their job responsibilities and constantly work to improve their skills.
Effective hotel managers understand that good communication requires the ability to develop a commonality of purpose with their audience. The best communicators are those who have developed an ability to direct their message to the level and interests of their audience. I believe that it’s a matter of developing interest and encouraging response versus simply presenting information.
The utilization of new communication tools has exploded during the last ten years with hotel websites, email, texting, mobile phones, and the use of social media featuring user-generated content. Any hotel would be hard-pressed to operate effectively without any one of these tools, yet they have complicated the communication process for hotel managers.
Communicating Within the Hotel Operation Obviously, the first point of contact for hotel managers lies within communication with superiors, peers, and subordinates. Most people want to do the best job possible, but the biggest reason for failure is a lack of understanding the goals and expectations as set by ownership. A good way to communicate goals is to involve people in the actual development of those goals; allowing individual ownership to drive their motivation and success.
A longtime mentor once said "knowing how to do something is good, but someone, who also knows why something is done, will always be successful". Effective hotel managers have developed the ability to communicate "how" and, more importantly, "why" things are done. People who know "why" have the ability to improve "how" the way things are done. This encourages innovation and constant improvement from the bottom-up and not simply presenting information and procedures from the top-down.
Soon, hotel management will be deeply involved in developing revenue and expense budgets for 2010; perhaps the most difficult year we have ever faced. Whatever procedure is used to develop these necessary numbers, effective managers will make certain that everyone in the operation understands the ultimate goals for 2010 and beyond. Unfortunately, historic numbers may not be a reliable predictor as they have in the past. Innovation will be high on the list of operational improvements in 2010. Get your webmaster involved in the development of your marketing plan.
Public Communication Tools You may not have thought about it in these terms, but the most significant form of public communication for hotels is the Internet. What your website says, and how it says it, is critical to its successful delivery of your message. There are still far too many hotel websites which are little more than "online brochures". To make your site a true sales piece, at least 20% of your website’s content should feature activities and attractions in your area.
The most impactful element of hotel selection is still the hotel’s location, not simply its address. People choose their destination first, hotel second. This fact is undisputed. It is a simple principle, but one that appears to be lost among many hotel website designers. Communicating why the hotel’s location benefits the visitor is essential. Whatever happened to the age-old discussion of features and benefits to support the reasons why and how your hotel’s location, facilities, amenities, and services will benefit guests?
Web 2.0, Social Media I guess I am pretty-well known as a social media cynic, with the significant exception of travel oriented social media like TripAdvisor and a few others. I do believe that general social media, like Facebook and MySpace, can benefit hotel franchises with their branding efforts, but these sites do little good for individual hotels. In simple terms, it’s often a matter of allocating time and resources to those things which can actually increase business.
Today, more than any other time in our history, hotel managers have more required operational and marketing tasks than ever before. To manage a hotel today, prioritizing these tasks is essential, yet I see too many hotels working social media but not the many other tasks which will produce much more business. If you have time to do it all, you have probably missed something.
Highly effective hotel managers will continue to prioritize issues and tasks to move their hotels forward. As we emerge from this recession, good communicators will be steps ahead in the marketplace.
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