Ask a bunch of hotel management graduates about their future aspirations, and you will get a resounding response from most of them – to become a General Manager. Once they graduate, they all work hard towards getting there. And why not? After all, as General Managers, they are finally in a position to make more significant decisions about their respective properties’ overall growth and success.
What does it take to become a hotel general manager?
Gone are the days when we used to picture a 50-something somebody with tons of experience in traditional hotel or hospitality operations and management as an ideal candidate for a general manager. Well, that era is now past. Talented youngsters are now in the race, and in fact, they are doing well.
A hotel management degree is one of the most critical first steps. A part-time job at a hotel while still in college is also usually beneficial. Then, considering today’s competitive scenario, hotel executives also take MBA courses to hone their managerial and leadership skills. In short, one can surely crack this in eight to ten years with the right educational background, solid track record, and leadership and analytical capabilities. Also, they must carefully make employment choices during their initial and formative years in the industry. And, of course, most importantly, they should familiarise themselves with emerging hospitality technology solutions in their journey to reach that top position.
Why are they important?
General Managers are dynamic hospitality professionals supervising hotel operations – everything across departments. They work with staff or department heads across the front desk, housekeeping, finance and accounting, FnB, sales and marketing, human resource, IT, revenue management, etc. From hiring and allocating resources to approving budgets, they do many things. They oversee the smooth functioning of every department in sync with each other. Most importantly, they are responsible for boosting the hotel’s brand image, making it profitable, and ensuring guest satisfaction.
The day-to-day pressure they handle depends on the type of property they manage. For example, in the case of a standalone or independent property, the workload could be a little less compared to a hotel group. When they work for a hotel group, they are responsible for adopting, extending and implementing the group’s corporate business strategy at the property level.
How does technology help them?
General Managers are accountable for streamlining operations, reducing costs, and generating more revenues. And to ensure all these, they need the right set of technology solutions.
For example, they should work with the IT team and other stakeholders to implement a cloud-based hotel property management system to automate daily processes. This way, they improve staff productivity and reduce operational errors that could harm the business.
In today’s fast-paced world, falling back due to lack of information is not an option. Not primarily for a senior person like a Hotel GM. They need to know what is happening at the property level, even on the go. They also need access to several reports to keep track of business KPIs and make informed decisions. It will only happen when they have a cloud-based Hotel PMS that they can access on their smartphones to track hotel positions and other critical information. Going cloud also helps them lower software ownership costs for their employers.
It is another critical area that needs a GM’s undivided attention. With the correct input from the sales team and in-depth knowledge of room distribution, they need to identify the right mix of sales channels, including popular OTAs, GDSs, metasearch engines, etc. But then, they would require a channel manager that can easily integrate with the existing Hotel PMS for efficient and real-time distribution. They are also responsible for guiding the sales team to strike the right deal with the right corporate client and travel agent for more room sales. In this context, a web booking engine integration enables them to generate incremental direct bookings via their brand website.
It is all about selling rooms at the best rate at the right time to boost occupancy and RevPAR. And they can only do this when they have a team of seasoned revenue managers and a robust revenue management tool. It helps them understand and foresee demand and suggest optimal rates as per occupancy and competition rates. As this is a complex area to manage and needs due diligence, technology does the job by taking out the guesswork that could lead to errors and loss of business opportunities.
The onus is on the Hotel General Managers for adopting and leveraging technology to track revenue sources and changing patterns to devise corrective measures. Similarly, they must empower their marketing team with CRM software to run promotional campaigns to reach out to the targeted customer base. This list of how technology enables GMs to do more doesn’t end here. There are other areas like knowing what guests say where, on which platform and even how to respond to them with courtesy.
“Speaking about the role of technology, Subhadeep Datta, General Manager, Goldfinch Hotel Mumbai, said, “A cloud-first approach has been my mantra for success. It doesn’t only my team and I to do better, but also works well and brings many benefits to my employer. For me, the best part is gaining mobility and keeping track of everything on the go, thanks to a cloud-based Hotel PMS.”
Going by a recent famous saying, like any other industry, if the hotel industry is set to operate and run like a technology company, the GMs, too, are bound to become tech-savvy. While they need to understand the role of technology in executing their daily activities, they also need to educate their colleagues to do the same. They must encourage other staff to look at technology as an enabler that allows them to do their jobs better. So here is the crux – a competent General Manager backed by intelligent solutions is the best thing to happen to a hotel establishment.
Hotelogix was our Technology Solutions Provider for the recently concluded Hotelier India GM Summit, Mumbai edition.
A version of this article was published in the Hotelier India magazine- April issue.