Before the Super Bowl fades into memory, allow me to use a football analogy and compare a hotel’s general manager to a football team’s quarterback or head coach: An effective general manager today must embrace skill sets associated with winning head coaches.
First, they need the perspective to grasp the big-picture strategy, then throw in the stamina to direct the hands-on, moment-to-moment ground operation. Last but not least, really successful GMs need to be able to get down, motivate and ultimately inspire the troops to perform at their very highest level. That’s an ability that can’t be faked, and not everyone possesses it.
In recent years the stakes for high-achieving GMs have been raised even further. Today they’re expected to be knowledgeable about – and boosters of – the various forms of technology that are transforming hotel operations, everything from property management systems to revenue management tools, which enable hotels to maximize profits.
At M&R Hotel Management, we strive to recruit the best talent for our GMs. Once hired, we give them the leeway to build their teams and foster the culture of guest service that is an essential component of any successful hotel. All 10 hotels in our portfolio are branded, so in addition to carrying out M&R’s policies and procedures, GMs have the added responsibility of upholding their brand’s standards.
Within the scope of their careers, GMs can build a reputation for a certain type of expertise, including managing airport hotels or opening new hotels. For example, we recruited Louis Gonzalez to manage our Holiday Inn Jamaica Queens-JFK Airport, which opened in December, knowing he had experience in both these areas.
Reflecting on the role of the GM, I was reminded how much has changed over time. A generation or two ago, GMs could get by closeted behind the closed doors of their office. No longer. Back then, some GMs rarely were visible to the staff – no less guests – and managed by delegating. No longer.
The polar opposite is true today. GMs can be seen on property at all hours, welcoming guests, interacting with employees and providing a watchful presence. Sometimes it can seem like a 24-hour-a-day job, which can be both good and bad. But it’s precisely because they’re passionate about what they do and tend to view it as a career, rather than just a job.
The best GMs become so closely associated with their hotel that they become its “public face,” both on-site and in the local community. To paraphrase Harry S. Truman, they know the “buck stops with them.” This is why, in the age of social media, it’s the GM who signs the response to TripAdvisor guest comments.