A day in the life of a hotel general manager
This is a “typical” day in the life of Kathleen Bates, Dual General Manager at the new Embassy Suites and Hilton Garden Inn in Boulder, CO. These sister properties, managed by Sage Hospitality, opened in November of 2017 and offer the largest ballroom in the city with 6500 square feet of divisible event space. These two hotels share amenities such as a rooftop pool, two-story fitness center and easy access to all the outdoor fun, great dining, shopping and craft breweries in the area.
Kathleen has been in the hospitality industry since 1998 and a general manger for the past 16 yrs. I asked her what one piece of advice would she share with someone looking forward to becoming a general manager and here’s what she said: “Remember the reason you got into the service business. You love people and enjoy being of service. As a General Manager, it’s really easy to get sucked into all the administrative reporting, paperwork and day-to-day details of running a hotel. So, I schedule some ‘people time’ and ‘staff care’ into my day. It makes me happy and reminds me why I got into the business in the beginning. Don’t get stuck behind the desk…find a balance and do what works for you.”
Here’s a “day in the life” of this seasoned general manager:
6:30 AM: Kathleen is an early riser, so she likes to get to the hotel early to check email, review her “Manager on Duty” (MOD) reports and see how the night shift went.
7-9 AM: She’s on the floor during the heavier check-out times to greet guests and check in with her Associates. She’ll show guests to meeting spaces, or touch base during breakfast service to ensure all is well with the guests.
9 AM: Stand-up meeting with Management Team: This is where the team gets together to touch base and share what’s happening that day, see who may need additional support, what challenges their departments are facing and do a little team building before everyone gets on with their day.
10 AM: Heads back to her office to review invoices, prepare reports to the corporate office, plan for any training or staff meetings and the Executive Committee Meeting.
LUNCH: Back up to the floor to meet guests and touch base with Associates in the break room.
2–3 PM: Once a week she conducts an Executive Committee Meeting with her direct reports: HR, Finance, Sales, Revenue Management, Assistant Manager. These meetings are focused on strategic, big picture issues, guest satisfaction and the overall “feel” of the hotel. Also held once a week, the Staff Meeting covers more of the tactical, day-to-day details such as staffing issues, what groups are coming to the hotel, upcoming banquets, any new policies from the Executive Committee, discussions about safety, uniforms, etc.
4–6 PM: Back out on the floor for the “Lobby Ambassador Program;” The Executive Team takes turns providing extra coverage for the front desk, mingling with guests, making sure arrivals are going smoothly and the guests are getting a fabulous first impression of the hotel and staff.
As you might imagine, there really are no “typical” days. When there’s a big breakfast rush, it’s all hands on deck and everyone steps in to help clear tables and pour coffee. When there are audits (risk, or health) or Quality Assurance for the Embassy or Hilton brands, the schedule has to shift. Also, there are internal audits to ensure that hotel policies are being followed and standards maintained.
It’s also important for the General Manager to be on-hand for special evening events. “We are a new hotel and we want to make a good impression on the business community as well as out-of-town guests. We expect to be hosting large non-profit galas and other big events that have previously gone out of town to get the space they need… now we can offer a large and divisible space that will accommodate them.”
The General Manager wears a lot of hats and is ultimately responsible for the overall “feel” of the hotel and guest satisfaction. She also oversees the operational functions, manages all the departments (via the department heads) and is responsible for profitability. It’s a big job that requires a variety of skills with people, critical thinking, communication, organization, computer and financial competence all playing a part.