Mobilizing a Mentoring Mentality for Empowering Associates

By Nigel Cossey General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Dallas Allen at the John Q. Hammons Center | April 22, 2018

Think about the many doors in a hotel. Have you ever thought of theses structures as barriers to communication with your associates? A closed office door can communicate, "I'm not to be disturbed," or simply, "I'm out on hotel rounds." In my early career, I saw a general manager physically remove the door from the hinges of the food and beverage staff's office area because the door tended to always be closed. 

A consistently closed door can emit an unapproachable management style. When I was working my way through the hospitality ranks with a former employer, I experienced an environment in which a couple of general managers probably didn't even know my name or what I did at the hotel. I promised myself that I would not adopt that management style, nor would I foster a culture where other managers around me did so.

Open the Door

Now imagine an open door and its possibilities. An open door can encourage healthy communication, welcome input and ideas, and build trust with associates. By making yourself available and working side by side with your team, both figurative and real walls can come down. You can pave the way for helping associates feel more comfortable approaching you, potentially leading to their becoming more empowered in making decisions.

My open-door policy is one of the first things I discuss during new hire orientation. I emphasize how it is critical to be available to your team. This means being accessible around the hotel and in your physical office space. My experience has been that this approach inspires a more positive culture and sparks associates' interest in hospitality career choices that they previously may not have discovered or shared.

I hold regularly scheduled meetings with our hotel's assistant general manager, department heads, and line level associates in training. By promoting a workplace where everyone can speak up, share ideas, and have a voice, I am working to nurture an open environment in which we strive toward a common goal as well as individual development. This approach is leaving its signature on our local hotel culture.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.