Hotel Management Strategies For Tough Times.
By Neil Salerno – Hotel Marketing Coach
Monday, 21st September 2009
In spite of these tough times, some hotels are doing better than others and a few hotels are actually doing quite well.

This anomaly sparked my curiosity; was this solely a result of local market variations or could it be a result of better management in some hotels?

My conclusion is that it is more than likely a combination of both factors. As hoteliers, we have little control over market conditions, but total control over how we conduct business and how we react to market variations. It's a matter of how well hotel managers deal with fluctuations in the marketplace and how well they lead their teams during tough times.

I have always believed that open-minded and informed managers are those who are constantly seeking  opportunities to improve their bottom-line. Nothing happens in a vacuum; sharing ideas and opinions through reading and exchanging thoughts stimulates learning. Curious hotel owners and managers are always thirsty to learn new techniques and to apply them.

There are many good eZines which are free and chock-full of great ideas and opinions. These daily and weekly publications enable owners and managers to sift through the experiences of others and learn from them. …never say that you don't have time to read and learn.

Drop That Doom and Gloom Mentality

"Misery loves company", but some managers go a little too far. My observation has been that successful hotel managers have the ability to maintain a positive aura when dealing with peers and subordinates. Don't get me wrong, the current market, and future near-term forecast, make this very difficult, but a doom and gloom mentality has never solved anything. Peers and subordinates will always mirror the mind-set of their leaders.

Surely, the economic woes of the country have made it difficult to maintain positive energy, but successful leaders find a way to generate a positive work atmosphere. I will, no doubt, date myself when I recall Norman Vincent Peale's "The power of positive thinking". A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action.. Be careful not to share negative thoughts and comments with peers and subordinates.

How Many Balls Are You Juggling?

For the past decade or so, cost-cutting and business efficiency measures have forced most hotel operations to multi-task job duties and responsibilities for management. By adding new job duties and responsibilities to someone who already has a full-time job responsibility, we have made it more and more difficult for managers to achieve acceptable results in all areas.

I see this every day in the area of Internet marketing. Few hotels can afford to employ someone to be solely responsible for the Internet and electronic marketing. These areas are generally assigned to someone who already has another full-time job responsibility. In some hotels, this responsibility is given to someone with little or no experience in Internet marketing at all.

Although there are some people who perform multi-tasking very well, many others have a tough time doing all their assigned tasks equally well. In many cases, this has created a whole new tendency to accept mediocre results in some areas. 

In The Hotel Business, Time is Not Our Friend

Along with the combining of job responsibilities came the compression of time which can be  devoted to each assigned task. Internet and other electronic marketing strategies are a relatively new marketing opportunity for hotels. It's ironic that Internet marketing matured during the era of multi-tasking popularity; this is a double whammy on our allotment of time.

Time is always a finite commodity; we cannot create more. The only thing we can do is to use time in the best way possible. During this age of multi-tasking, performing one task has to detract from the time devoted to doing something else; leading to prioritization.

Prioritizing tasks is an absolute must, today, this can best be done by management leaders, who have an overall view of all the property goals. Left to their own devices, most middle management people will choose those tasks in which they are most familiar; not necessarily those which would provide the greater benefit to the hotel. They will learn by seeing what is most important to management leadership and best for the overall hotel operation.

At the risk of sounding self-serving, limited out-sourcing of specific Internet and electronic marketing responsibilities could be a viable solution for many hotel operations. Hoteliers can establish time and expense limitations as well as set specific goals and desired results. Internet analytics also allows for specific measurement of every task; not possible with most other marketing actions.

Your webmaster should be a part of your electronic marketing team. Include your webmaster when meeting with your team to discuss Internet marketing strategies. You can  develop a solid two-way dialogue to optimize business. Go-To-Meeting is an excellent online tool to handle this; it also eliminates transportation expense.

Time is of the essence. Some hoteliers are attempting to wait-out the recession by simply managing expenses until business improves; smart hoteliers are aggressively marketing  their hotels to gain market share and be in a superior position when the economy recovers. When times are tough, the smart get going.

Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach


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