When a general manager is faced with a multitude of unfathomable and unknowable tasks, it's time to get the specialists in, says Peter Hancock
I write as an observer, of course. In my time as a general manager we had few technological issues beyond loading cassettes into the stereo. Our bookings were recorded on paper charts using a pencil and rubber. Room rates were published in a brochure, and the only people who expected a discount were those who stayed for weeks on end. It felt like hard work, but I now realise we had it easy.
Thanks to "progress" in recent years, the modern GM is now expected to understand revenue management, third-party booking sites, interfaces with property management systems, customer review sites, social media, convoluted business rates, energy prices via competing suppliers with unfathomableâ¨tariffs, employment law, website optimisation, and much besides. All this on top of the fundamental stuff of hotel-keeping, such as looking after guests and keeping the place sparkling.
Is it any wonder that an industry of freelance specialists has developed? I got to meet some of them at the excellent HOSPA conference in November, where I was a last-minute substitute to chair the Leaders' panel debate. These professionals know more about their chosen field than any multi-tasking hotelier could hope to master.
At Pride of Britain we use a large number of contractors, each an expert in a strand of the marketing mix, which allows the tiny head office team to concentrate on the things it is best at. The beauty of hiring support is that it adds nothing to payroll, you only pay for the work done and, if dissatisfied, you can dispense with a failing company and find another.
Perhaps the sheer complexity of life will provide its own solution. Once the range of skills needed to run a hotel becomes impossibleâ¨for even the most able to grasp, there is no â¨choice but to bring in the specialists - allowing â¨hoteliers to get back to the job they love.
Peter Hancock is chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels