Originally published in Hotel Management November 10, 2015
We know that hotel general managers are kept very busy every day, and just about all day. But maybe we need to think about what folks were doing years ago that helped garner repeat business as well as helped management learn firsthand what is really going on at a property.
What we are talking about is seeing more of the hotel management out in front of the guests. It used to be that we would regularly see top management visible to the guests in the house. Sometimes they were at the front of the lobby as guests entered, offering a smile and welcome greeting. Or maybe they would spend a little time at the front desk to observe the check-in process and how the staff relates to the guests. How about the guests seeing the general manager walk through the dining room during meal hours once in a while to greet guests, and of course observe the operation?
These days, we don’t see much of this. Guests are impressed when they get to see top management around at a property. It makes them feel good to get a welcoming “hello” from the top dog.
Being visible goes a long way to show employees the value of smiling, greeting guests, trying to be helpful, etc., and it is catching. If the GM does it, so do the employees, and that is what creates the repeat business as well as referrals from existing guests to their contacts. If an owner, operator, general manager or whoever the top person may be cannot be available to see what’s going on and greet guests, then an assistant or other member of the management team should be visible.
High management visibility really should be required during certain hours when guests are arriving, departing or using the services of a hotel property. It is important for guests to know that management cares. People talk about this when they chat with friends and associates about their recent stay at a hotel. This helps make people return on a future visit to the area. In addition, a business card is a very low-cost marketing tool. Management folks need to get used to passing them out to guests whenever appropriate. This impresses the guests, and they remember that gesture. Also, it is not a bad idea to ask the guests to return on their next trip, and to send their friends and associates to the property.
Another important area to show visibility is in group sales, such as when the sales department is working with a prospect or during a prospect’s site visit. Making an appearance for a welcome to show interest could be very valuable to the sales effort. Meeting planners often talk about never seeing a general manager when visiting a property on a site inspection. This could be very valuable in helping the prospect make a buy decision.