Hotel General Manager, can anybody, everybody, somebody or nobody do this job?
Bert van Walbeek
Thursday, 22nd March 2007
A few months ago I was asked to be part of a selection committee to search for the right candidates for General Manager of a resort in Thailand

The human resources department had put an advertisement in one of Thailand's leading newspapers and received, within 2 weeks, 127 applications of persons that believed to have the right qualifications.

While "wading" through the mountain of papers we observed the following trends :

  • Most hotel people see Thailand as their " dream " working environment.
  • Many believe that lack of experience can be compensated with enthusiasm.
  • Having any MBA is considered qualification enough to work as General Manager.
  • Having lived in Thailand and having stayed in many hotels is a significant benefit.
  • Having been on holiday in Thailand creates the cultural understanding needed.
  • The job of General Manager is still a male-dominated " zone ", only 3 applications
We were also amazed on how careless many CV were prepared and presented :

  • Applicants did not use spell check.
  • Applicants' grammar is below standard.
  • Fonts used are too fancy.
  • Details given not enough or too exhaustive.
  • Use of impersonal, standard templates .
The attachments send by various contender were another cause for both anger and laughter

  • Attachment files up to 100 MB.
  • Diplomas of the 60's and the 70's.
  • Training certificates 20 years of 20 years ago.
  • School certificates of 30 - 40 years in the past.
  • Letters of recommendation just stating years of employment.
  • Birth, marriage and divorce certificates.
The committee also had "fun" looking at the pictures that accompanied ( some of ) the submissions :

  • Me, and 3 other guys ( who is who ? )
  • Me, on the beach ( nice body building ! )
  • Me, in the office ( cluttered desk ! )
  • Me, in uniform ( only one stripe ?
  • Me, in the kitchen  ( explains overweight ! )
  • Me, and the Sheikh ( who is the VIP ? )
  • Me, and a drink ( cheers mate ! )
  • Me, before shaving ( advert for shaving cream ? )
  • Me, after my arrest ( where is the police number ? )
  • Me, much younger ( once upon a time ! )
What fascinated the committee most was the variety of qualifications offered in addition to the usual prerequisites for the General Managers job.

Please note that all quotes following were taken as they were from the applications and only changed slightly when needed, in order to protect the identity of the aspirant General Managers:

  • I am a Food & Beverage Service Connoisseur.
  • I can use an accounting machine, calculating machine, duplication machine, key punch machine and facsimile.
  • I have experiences in the pulp and gas industries that qualify me for this position.
  • I am interested in the GM position, since I worked in Sales for 11 years.
  • I have cooked for Kings, Sheiks and Business Magnates …….
  • I went into a disorganized property, spearheaded various P&P and then started my own consultant company.
  • I am presently engaged as a Public Relations Manager in a real estate company and I feel I have not met the challenges I was looking for initially.
  • I had responsibilities in the industrial / commercial and food hygiene supply of chemicals.
  • I have a track record of being a top achiever, my latest being my Diploma in Private Investigative Work that was passed with honors.
  • I am familiar with start-up problems and improvement of sleeping business.
  • I send you my application for Resort Manager, but since my background is Dental Trade and Service and therefore I would be delighted to be invited as a trainee candidate.
  • I am presently employed as retail shop manager and before that I was assistant shop manager in a supermarket.
  • I have an MBA and 6 months experience in a marketing department of an IT company.
  • I have held a variety of positions including a furniture workshop manager and an animal management consultant for an elephant village.
  • I worked in a nightclub, then opened a betting office and I also operated 6 month as a stockbroker, so you see I can handle pressure.
  • I can cook very tasty pasta.
Also some applicants felt the following personal skills to be of great advantage, unfortunately showing the committee that many people do not think highly of the Hotel General Manager profession, again all quotations are original :

  • I am 45 years old, have a guide license and I speak French…..
  • I am honest, diligent and reliable and therefore fully appreciate the expectations you would have.
  • I just love being in a hotel.
  • I am a Business Graduate turn Fitness/F&B/ Resort Manager, Mountain Biker/Sports Enthusiast, World Traveler, Service / Hospitality Industry All-Round.
  • I have past experiences include running a marathon, trekking in the Everest, rafting in Nepal, surfing in Bali and Mountain climbing in Europe.
  • I have golf as main interest and I play and practice when work allows, I also have a couple of friends who are touring pros on the European Tour.
  • I believe that my experiences in different fields allow me to face any kind of problem with fantasy and pragmatism to implement them to the right goal.
  • I would like to have a Thai wife and my desire is to stay and live in Thailand.
  • I have traveled extensively and speaking many languages, I am accustomed to work in diverse environments quickly and effectively.
  • I will not be the youngest candidate, but perhaps the most experienced.
  • I was, at the time, the youngest person in the hotel group to be appointed as a member of junior management.
The large range of salaries expected was another sign of what people think of a Hotel General Manager

  • I expect a salary of Baht 35,000, the lowest "bidder" at US $ 921 …..
  • I expect a salary of Baht 500,000, the highest bidder at US $ 13,157 !!!!!!
  • I expect a salary of € 2,000 as trainee GM.
  • I expect US $ 6,000, the best possible benefits and 10 % of the GOP
  • I expect a salary of UK ₤ 60,000 net.
  • I expect, in addition, a BMW 7 or similar as company car.
  • This salary could challenge me to work hard with my tail off …
In conclusion a few " think big gems " discovered in these applications

  • My background is totally different from a "normal" hotel manager, what makes me able to be extremely creative………
  • I trust you would find me, with all my experience in different ( non hospitality ) sectors, and with a wide breadth of experience of the type that gives you versatility to place me in a number of contexts with the confidence that the level of excellence you expect will be met …
  • I am quite confident that, in addition to being a GM, I should be able to oversee your whole group of resorts ……
  • I can be reached at my mobile telephone from nine to five daily …
  • Please inform me in advance for an interview so I can fix my busy schedule ……
  • I would like to thank you for wasting your time to read my application 
The last remark was probably the truest statement of all, as out of the 127 applications only 10 made it to the second round.

The morale of this article :

The image of managing a hotel seems to be that anybody can do it, but it is time that somebody in this profession realizes that they need a serious PR campaign to show that one can not be a nobody to do this job and make sure that everybody understand managing a hotel or resort is not only an art !

And last but not least :

Did you lately ask someone that you respect to check your CV and/or the picture you are presently using when you send your applications by e-mail and look at it with the eyes of the receiver.

Or are they "just " files in your computer that you keep attaching every time and everywhere you apply ?

Your CV should be working for you, not against you !

You can only make a first impression once ………

Bert "Bow-Thai" van Walbeek has been an Hotelier for 45 years and Marketer of Tourism for 35 years, a Motivator and a Master of Disaster since 20 years and a lecturer for 15 years and his expertise is well known in the Asian Hospitality and Travel Industry.

He has trained hundreds of participants together with many associations in the region and through individually developed courses on all Marketing and Sales issues, on Marketing Sustainable Destinations, Service Enhancement, Conference & Incentive Management and Risk & Crisis Management in Asia and has always been, and still is, deeply involved in Asia's Tourism Industry.

He is, since 1993, the founding Managing Director of The Winning Edge, a boutique consulting company, offering consultancy and training services to the hospitality, car and pharmaceutical industries.

In addition to those activities he is lecturing the "next generation" at Universities in Europe and Asia and is regularly invited to speak on leadership and other Human Resources subjects during industrial and academic conferences. For more details, please visit

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