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.


  1. Reto V. Torriani October 17, 2018 1:05 am

    The time of Ego’s is disappearing. The younger, dynamic GM is a man who is not rated by the tie he wears but by the job he does. Also like you mention in the example of the Teutonic GM, so often that has happened. I would have not allowed that. There were certain Hotel ls where the GM was standing in the lobby all day, which is a nice touch, if you actually do something. Too stiff to exist they gave the occasional bow. But when the GM becomes more the Rock Star than the Rock Star and more the Royalty than the Royalty, then there is something wrong. I just competed a Certification for Hotel Real Estate Investment & Asset Management at Cornell University and if you go through that, you can see how vulnerable we are as GM’s if we do no clearly understand the clear message of the owners. My success (even the financial one) was drawn from ONE thing – Guests and Teams. No matter how glitzy the facade, it fades when the software is not flawless, dedicated and passionate. The extra mile is not expensive, it is the way you do things. I am proud that for decades I was called the “Unconventional GM” as I did not Bask myself in perfect uniforms but by being there, always and without conditions.

  2. Peter Birchall October 17, 2018 4:32 am

    Agree absolutely
    We know a few and they know it too

  3. Marko Hytonen October 17, 2018 5:06 am

    I agree 100% on this! We also tend to forget that these give-aways and ego trips are paid by the owner.

  4. Roobert Cohn October 17, 2018 6:00 am

    You hit a home run, as there is no cure for stupidity.

  5. david collas October 17, 2018 6:54 am

    Hello Benoit ,
    Could not agree more….., lead by example is one of the only way to stay back on track in my opinion. What examples are you showing to you colleagues. credibility is key here .

  6. Nicholas DiMeglio October 17, 2018 9:16 am

    James Bennett was a gentlemen, mentor and friend to me. I always enjoyed listening to his stories and drew inspiration from him as a hotelier. He was a fellow SKAL member and represented the Hospitality Industry in a dignified manner.

  7. Julian Payne October 17, 2018 11:54 am

    Being Humble and Kind is not a Weakness, it is a a trait that takes strength of character to lead by. It is the sincere way of leading your team and with it amazing things will happen.

  8. Pradeep raman April 18, 2019 8:12 am

    Dear Benoit,

    Agree 300%. As we all say and agree in the Industry and as truly spoken by a great Hotelier:

    We are here for 2 principle reasons:
    -To make beds and clean toilets
    -To serve cold food cold and hot food hot.

    Glad to read this article.

  9. richard mau October 15, 2019 11:49 pm

    When one can truly be there for their team and not the other way around…that is modern day GM leadership….only to demonstrate in action matters ….actions not words. How do you demonstrate it in your actions…..As VP Hospitality Operations i prefer that all my GMs serve themselves and allow their staff to focus on the guest….from getting their own meals, coffee/tea and removal of their dishes unless dining with guests or clients….including myself when i was a GM


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