The Two Single Most Relevant Factors To Tell If a Hotel Excels – Now Everyone Can Assess Hotels!
By Jochen Ehrhardt
Sunday, 13th November 2022

What do Jean-Yves Blatt, Sven van den Broeck, Nick Downing, Christian Eckert, Sylvain Ercoli, Yann Gillet, Arnaud Girodon, Niek Hammer, Edwin Kramer, Franck de Lestapis, Ernst Ludick, Ulisses Marreiros, Eric Paulus, Franz-Josef Pirktl, Jannes Soerensen, Marcel Thoma and Tim Weiland have in common?.

They are all passionate hoteliers and excellent General Managers, they act like owners, not like tenants, they love what they do, and just do the right things. Sounds pretty simple, but apparently isn’t.

They are the shining stars of an industry that has, to a large extent, arranged for itself, and become complacent with, mediocrity in that too many General Managers act merely as administrators, or in some cases as social media stars, or perhaps clowns, constantly vying for people’s attention for a good rating on yet another shallow hotel hit list.

Try this little test: Go on hotel websites and check if social media and bragging are prevalent, or deep, relevant content. 99% of hotel websites are identical in their approach in preferring the social media. In addition, many haven’t even mastered the booking engine basics yet, talking ease of use, etc. That’s why I like Booking.com, at least for research and booking....

A hotel’s General Manager is the single most important success factor of a (luxury) hotel. His/her job is first and foremost to lead by example while reflecting the image of the hotel to guests, employees, and owners.

Therefore, he/she needs to be visible, accessible, and responsive, spending time at facilities critical to meeting guests such as the lobby and F&B venues as opposed to hiding in the office.

Mingling and socializing with and listening to guests, paying attention to detail and empowering employees are his/her strengths.

Empowering staff means trusting them and giving them the confidence and leeway to be themselves and come across as genuinely caring and compassionate human beings as opposed to robots treating a guest as just another credit card number.

An excellent General Manager is open to any kind of constructive criticism, yet, there is a trend that too many don’t want to hear what they consider to be bad news, which should actually be viewed as good news.

They are so used to being applauded for just about anything, so it must be hard to cope with the real world and its colorful realities. No industry appears to be more self-congratulatory than the hospitality industry. We are already fantastic, why bother?

And then there is breakfast, the second important measure of success. Breakfast delivery or delivering a breakfast experience? Every day the same routine. Routine and luxury (experience) don’t really go together, right?

Here’s how you check on breakfast: Take your time enjoying brekkers (not a chore by any means!), ideally the last hour before staff clear the buffet, provided there is one, then it will become crystal clear, whether or not you desire to become a regular in this establishment. Ideally, you will meet the General Manager on his daily breakfast round, a fantastic opportunity to meet and greet almost all the guests. I know of a GM who did this for about twenty years, missing only one breakfast. Needless to mention what this did to the hotel’s retention rate. A good example of the so widely used phrase “emotional connection.” While any employee can create emotional connections with guests, the General Manager can create the most powerful ones.

Just for the record, and in case you wondered where the above gentlemen were from, here you go: Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, France, Holland, South Africa, Portugal, Austria and Germany. Pretty mixed and not totally surprising, but of course, not necessarily complete and representative in a statistical sense.

Usually, it takes me five minutes to discern the open-minded General Managers willing to learn every day and actually encouraging criticism, from those who are easily bored with just another “hotel expert.” In today’s world, the focus of hoteliers in the main is clearly on sales, and it shows.

Armed with the above insights, it should be easier for guests to assess their hotel, spread the word, and help raise standards.

Jochen Ehrhardt (jochen.ehrhardt@true5stars.com) is the Founder of TRUE 5 STARS Advisory — Quality Assurance perfecting 5-star plus offerings through a heavy focus on human interactions, and the founder of TRUE 5 STARS, an online platform that focuses on just the top 1,000 hotels in the world. He has personally inspected over 2,000 of the world’s best hotels.


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