Let’s first assume that you are currently at least an average hotelier. We’re not going to start from the very beginning with hospitality training and acquiring years of experience – we’ll just look at the final part of the journey where we go from acceptable to outstanding. In other words, the hard part.
- Personal qualities
Hospitality involves people, so a range of soft skills will be top of the list. Empathy is vital, so you can understand the perspective of guests, employees and hotel owners, and then work to keep all three groups happy. You cannot be arrogant or over-confident, as it will turn others away, leaving you isolated when you need support. Humility is essential – always entertain the possibility that you may be wrong, while retaining the decisiveness that you need in order to lead effectively. You have to listen to others, and retain a passion for delivering only your very best.
The role involves the management of many different departments, covering all manner of activities, so you might at first think that you need to be an expert in everything. That would certainly be helpful, but your organization will already have people who know what they’re doing in all kinds of different areas. Your job is to use their skills and knowledge, not to know it all yourself. What is more helpful is for you to develop one particular field in which you truly are the expert.
- Love of data
Data is increasingly valuable in the hotel industry. More and more of it is available, so you need an understanding of how it is presented, what it all means, and how it can be used. If you don’t understand exactly how some of the key metrics are constructed and calculated, you won’t be in a position to address the underlying factors which can lead to positive changes. Without a passion for numbers and statistics you’ll find it hard to spot the patterns lurking beneath the surface presented by the data, and you won’t be able to exploit the information that’s available to you.
To be a great hotelier you also have to be a great coach, able to guide your staff to achieve their full potential. Teaching is a part of this, in terms of telling staff what to do and demonstrating how to do it. Communication is also an essential component, because you need to clearly convey to staff exactly what their roles entail and what their objectives are. You need the eye for detail which allows you to help staff to adjust their working practices to improve their performance. A good coach gets the best out of the resources available and builds a cohesive and effective team. This is what you need to do to achieve success.
Lifelong learning is a popular concept today, and it has never been easier. The internet provides direct access to the ideas of experts in every field. If you want to know something you can find out instantly. If you want to learn something, the resources are there for you to do so. All you need is the time. For hoteliers, one key area is the impact the internet has had upon the hotel industry, so this is one field in which you can’t possible have too much knowledge. Learn one new thing every day about the online environment, about technology and what is possible, even about social media and how it is being used, and you will be better able to take your organization forward.
- Luck and hard work
The last thing you need to do is probably the hardest. The hotel industry involves long and unsociable hours, and you won’t be getting very far if you’re not prepared to start early, stay late, and prioritize your work. The opportunities somehow come to those who work for them. You might consider it luck, but those you think already got lucky would tell you otherwise.