Why Management Succession is Critical in Private Hotels.
By Roland Wildberg ~ Weekly Exclusive - Views On The Latest Trends
Tuesday, 30th April 2013
Exclusive Feature: The majority share of the European hotel industry are medium-sized family businesses – and thus organized extremely traditionally as only few sectors.

The head of the family draws his – or her – company hierarchically, the successor is often far too late set and carried out.

The surprise was perfect: We had just checked into the small Polish private hotel in the Carpathian Mountains, stored the suitcase in the room and now were heading in a good mood with the elevator into the lobby, to follow the invitation of a guided tour alround the property.

Below expected us neither General Manager nor the owner, but - both, still about triple! A very young man by mid-20s, a portly 40s and a snowwhite Grandpa with big bushy beard stood before us, all in fine black three-piece, evidently in the best agreement.

They three indeed, the men after a friendly welcome reported to us, were the owner of the hotel - three generations Kowalsky. A beautiful sight they were, who naturally provoked us a cheeky question: it never comes to the family quarrel, when here son, father and grandfather together run the House?

They started laughing almost simultaneously. In fact, an exceptional situation would prevail at present, they were just in the transfer of operations from father to son. The grandpa as well was present, because he as founder knows the property like no other and perceives the task of the controller for the new generation.

We were almost speechless. Rarely the problematic process of staff transferring into a medium-sized operation seems solved so harmonious like in that small private hotel in Poland. Mostly it is worse; then, properties must even close due to hurried, booth too late and superficial business succession.

Due to this, traditional and full-sounding names are lost again and again - and just because of an old hegemon not ready to cede the responsibility and supervision in a timely manner. Although the hotel business in the public is dominated of huge chains, it is to a grave share a medium sized family business of special kind. Here, opinion-strong egotists who know many of their guests and almost all partners personally, dominate the house anyway and give the reins out of hand most unwillingly.

60 Percent of these enterprises are under serious threat, as soon as the new generation takes place - because it is mostly too late. Less than 10 percent of the family hotels reached the fourth generation according to a Central European hotel consulting firm. Tragedies behind these figures: not only divided families of hoteliers and operating companies gone bankrupt, but also hundreds of thousands of lost jobs.

The solution: Provide succession in time. "When my father handed the operation over to me 20 years ago, he made it to the condition, that I now introduce my son to it", the 2nd generation Kapoor told us. Exemplary and exactly according to the recommendations of hotel consultants: At the latest in the age of 50 the senior should have fixed his successor.

In the contrary, if he lets go of too late, the pressure rises, because experience shows in those cases the partner banks become nervous. If the search for a successor within the family proves futile, external consultants can help. They create reports, ads and operate the selection interviews. Who is planning the replacement in a timely manner, by this these measures definetely avoid much stress.

This the Koslowsky family has solved in an exemplary way as well: "During that critical period we let ourselves advised closely by the consulting agency of my brother-in-law in Katowice", as the youngest part of our Polish hoteliers triumvirate informed. So at least this task remained among the family.

This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.

Roland Wildberg is Travel Writer and Correspondent based in Berlin, Germany. He started as an Editor for the National daily 'Die Welt' (tourism section), later on switched to a freelanced career and nowadays mainly publishes on the Web. Observing the hospitality industry always has fascinated him as it looks like the perfect combination of sleeping and writing – work-live-balance as its best.

Roland also heads the annual 4Hoteliers ITB Berlin news micro-site journalist and video/photo teams. For more info:
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