As the economy rebounds and more Americans find themselves dining out and traveling once again, hospitality professionals with strong leadership skills are becoming increasingly marketable. As with many other improving industries, though, competition for the best positions is fierce. Because of this, hospitality managers need more than a natural aptitude for leadership to command the top opportunities.
The following are additional skills that could be considered necessary for successful hospitality leadership and management.
- Operational Knowledge: The intricacies of daily operations – including accounting, asset and revenue management, human resource management, and cost control – are the primary proficiencies among a hospitality manager’s foundational areas of expertise, whether in foodservice, gaming or lodging.
Frontline staff and associates who are interested in advancement may find their upward mobility delayed until they acquire these core competencies. Some practical knowledge can be gained by entry-level employment in the sector of choice; other subject areas may be covered in hospitality degree or certificate courses, which are gaining traction as prerequisite to top employment opportunities industry-wide.
- Team Management: Although significant distinctions remain, in practice, management and leadership do overlap, particularly in the area of teamwork. In hospitality, consistency is key: outstanding guest services need not merely be established, but also maintained.
This can be challenging for a single worker, let alone a team of various associates with divergent personalities. It therefore falls upon hospitality managers to occupy dual roles during the workday. As hospitality managers, they establish high standards of service; as hospitality leaders, they inspire staff members to achieve those standards.
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- Customer Experience Management: Customer experience, sometimes referred to as CE, is a complex phenomenon unique to every guest. It consists of his or her singular and entire experience of an establishment. Customer experience management requires a comprehensive knowledge of the many numerous channels across which customer experience, from initial exposure to review, plays out. Websites, social media, and the foodservice or lodging establishment itself are just a few of those channels, and hospitality managers must be proficient in all relevant areas and their operations.
- Marketing: Word of mouth and customer reviews are the scaffolding upon which all successful hospitality businesses are built, and great hospitality managers understand this principle. In fact, the most desirable hospitality managers are proficient in subject areas once the realm of marketers alone: how to track and anticipate industry trends; conduct basic qualitative or quantitative analyses; and design, manage and refine marketing and advertising campaigns.
- Finance Management: The customer is king in the hospitality industry, and good hospitality managers live by this standard. But that doesn’t mean that foodservice, lodging and gaming managers are necessarily unskilled in finance or business. The ability to read financial reports and run basic quantitative analyses goes a long way in hospitality management, as a high-quality guest experience is generally tenable only if is commercially advantageous as well. Hospitality managers may also tasked with other aspects of financial oversight, including daily cash outs, bank deposits, accounts payable and receivable and other revenue management.
The Importance of Leadership
Leadership skills are critical to management in any industry or employment sector, but none more so than hospitality, an industry characterized by an emphasis on teamwork. However, contrary to popular belief, a full complement of leadership abilities is not simply instinctive; it is learned, often through equal parts experience and leadership training.
The industry itself is also rapidly evolving, as guest-services technology advances and the economy globalizes, making foundational knowledge areas and adaptive competencies more attractive to employers than ever. Many opportunities await the hospitality manager, and with the right attitude and educational background, today’s ambitious entry-level workers can soon find themselves enjoying the numerous rewards of a fast-paced and exciting career in hospitality management.
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