Great Expectations: Creating an Overall Culture Centered on Results
By Clifford Ferrara Executive Vice President of Sales & Revenue Generation, Chesapeake Hospitality | October 13, 2013
Effective hotel management is like a puzzle. When complete, the sky and the water pieces merge seamlessly together, the eye moves effortlessly from top to bottom, side to side, and the whole scene comes to life. However, when any one piece is missing, the image is distorted, meaning all your hard work and painstaking detail fitting those other 4,999 pieces together is for not. Oftentimes, that one missing piece is intangible; it's hard to define or measure, but you know when it's not right. It's your culture.
Effective management concepts and operational best practices are obviously a priority. Training, education and communication-all important. Great sales strategies? Essential. But the focus of those initiatives needs to be a part of a larger strategic vision. The single most important step that any hotel owner or operator can take is to ensure that their picture is based on a coordinated team and data-driven approach: every employee and every aspect of their operation needs to be part of a cohesive and consistent professional culture that is focused on results.
What follows are the building blocks of strategy and accountability: the raw materials needed to create and sustain an overall culture of results.
Creating a results-oriented culture starts at the top, with the General Manager. The GM sets the pace, sets the stage and sets the standard. Effective GMs not only establish expectations and set specific goals, they also submit and execute a strategic plan designed to achieve those goals, and, critically, hold themselves and their team accountable for both successes and failures. As the captain of the ship, the GM identifies the destination, charts the course and takes the wheel.
When it comes to building a results-focused culture, the GM's first priority should be identifying where the hotel wants to be, needs to be, and can be. No property can be all things to all people, and understanding what you can reasonably expect to accomplish-given the context of your market and comp set-is an important initial step. But that does not mean you cannot be aggressive when it comes to goal setting. Quite the contrary; ambitious goals are a great way to motivate and provide the necessary sense of urgency.