The general manager (GM) of a hotel is largely responsible for the success of the business. Essentially, the buck stops with them. They are who staff and guests turn to for guidance or answers and who hotel owners depend on to drive bookings and revenue.
It makes sense then that general managers are some of the most knowledgeable and informed people in the industry. Industry publication, Hotel Management, recently released the 2017 Voice of the GM survey – its 13th edition.
The findings tell us more about the life of a GM, the direction hotels and travel are taking, and what impact technology is having on the operation of hotel businesses.
What is the work/life balance like for hotel general managers?
Unsurprisingly most of the respondents have been in the industry for a number of years (a mere 7% have been working less than five years). Only 17% have a degree in hospitality from a four-year university (Bachelor’s Degree) and just 13% were under the age of 35, with 58% being males.
As expected, hotel managers are some of the hardest working people in society.
The large majority (83%) work over 45 hours each week with 15% clocking a staggering 60-69 hours in a working week.
When it comes to days off, they’re limited to less than 10 days off per month 84% of the time. Many of them also don’t see themselves using their full allocation of time off either with 43% saying they had a surplus at the end of 2017.
Even with these demanding hours, general managers have a great passion for their job because of one main reason; people. When asked why they stay at their current job, 69% said it was because of the people they work with and 53% stated they loved interacting with guests.
53% of general managers stated they remained at their job for their guests.
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What does the average hotel look like?
It’s interesting to see the mix of sizes, class, and segments of the respondents. There really is no such thing as the average hotel. They come in all shapes and sizes as these statistics show:
How many rooms are in the property?
- Under 60: 4%
- 60 to 80: 22%
- 81 to 100: 18%
- 101 to 150: 31%
- 151 to 300: 17%
- 300+: 8%
What segment is your hotel in?
- Luxury – 1%
- Upper Upscale – 9%
- Upscale – 11%
- Upper Midscale – 32%
- Midscale – 38%
- Economy – 9%
What market does your hotel compete in?
- Suburban – 24%
- Urban/City – 21%
- Highway – 18%
- Small Town – 15%
- Resort – 15%
- Airport – 7%
Only 16% of all respondents were from an independent property and 87% said they were only currently managing one hotel.
What are the priorities for renovation and expenditure?
A great way to reinvigorate a hotel and attract more bookings is to upgrade the physical property, amenities, and technology. However, with tight budgets hotels need to be strategic with how they do this.
The priorities for the GMs varied quite a bit.
Over 50% had already performed renovations within the last three years and 74% indicated they would renovate within the next three years. This shows they understand the importance of keeping things fresh and interesting for guests. The needs of travellers change very quickly with the latest fads, which means that hotels need to be aware of what their customers are expecting during their stay.
The main plans for significant purchases in order of priority were:
- Bedding and softgoods – 50%
- Building maintenance, including compliance, equipment and upgrades – 46%
- Hotel technology – 45%
- FF&E (moveable furniture, fixtures, or other impermanent equipment) – 37%
- Food & beverage upgrades – 26%
When it comes to technology, a quarter of managers had no upgrade plans at all, but for those who were planning to spend on technology this was their focus:
- Door-locking systems – 26%
- Wireless infrastructure – 22%
- Televisions – 16%
- In-room entertainment – 8%
- Property management system (PMS) – 8%
- Telephones – 7%
- Point of Sale systems – 5%
- Customer relationship management – 1%
What is the market split for guests at the hotel?
A lot of the hotels were fairly segmented. Only 43% reported they had roughly a 50/50 split between leisure and business guests, while 33% reported mostly business guests and 24% mostly leisure.
A total of 41% also stated they’d had significant group business during the past 12 months and recorded the following trends:
- I notice shorter booking windows for group business – 54%
- Group business booking/pricing patterns for the last 12 months have been about the same as the previous 12 months – 32%
- We have trouble getting good pricing for group business – 13%
- I notice longer/more “normal” booking windows for group business – 11%
- We are able to get commensurate rates for group business – 9%