October 16, 2018
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The General Manager as celebrity. How good is that? Let’s make no bones about it: NOT very good. Unless it is your name on the building.

Let’s not name names, but the minute the ego becomes larger than the lobby you are no longer doing the best job for your owner or employer. If the photoshoot comes before the budget review or employee appreciation event, bad things will eventually happen.

Not to age myself, but I remember two individuals I met while writing my master’s Monograph at Cornell: James Bennett, then the General Manager of the (real) Ritz-Carlton Boston, and Bernard Penché, then the General Manager of the Ritz in Paris. They were both dressed the same: a “uniform” consisting of a morning suit buttoned at the waist, and impeccably creased striped charcoal trousers. And black laced shoes so polished you could see yourself in them. In other words, there was no possible doubt they both were hotel General Managers. They were NOT competing with their guests’ Lanvin, Hugo Boss or Brioni suits. Yet they wanted to stand out and represent their job to both guests and staff.

The job is to KNOW. Know how to run a hotel, obviously, but also know about the guests and what makes them happy. If a Formula One driver stays at the hotel, hit Wikipedia ahead of their arrival and learn the bio. And the in-room amenity should reflect who they are or what their passion is.

As for pillows, what counts is what’s in them, not what it says on them. Especially for those of you with spelling challenges. Think of those among us with hyphenated names…

Do not do what too many hoteliers have been doing to excess in recent years: devote resources and labor to create in room amenities just to impress a competitor, a colleague or a former employer/e. I have seen amenities that must have required 6 hours of the time of a $120K/a year Pastry Chef*, and included a $200 bottle of champagne or liquor, plus/or a costly non consumable gift. Put that amenity in a travel agent’s room as an investment. Putting in in a colleague’s room is a display of ego.

A warm handshake will do.

*A certain luxury hotel had to buy frozen croissants for the guests because the Pastry Chef was too busy drawing lederhosen on a welcome cake for a friend of his teutonic General Manager. Unacceptable.

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