Attributes of a good motel manager

There has been a rapid growth over recent years in the number of motels throughout Queensland that are operated under management. This shift has in many cases been the result of motels being the type of business that suits this arrangement.

The operator does not need to have specific qualifications to run a motel well but does need to be the right type of person. Three things always come to mind when considering what a good motel manager needs to have – a smiling face, a realisation motels are a service industry and good people skills. Obviously there is much more to operating a motel, however these three things leave the guest wanting to return because it makes them feel welcome, comfortable and secure.

It is surprising how often these three areas cannot successfully be achieved by a manager. It is therefore paramount for a motel owner to have a good manager for the business to be as successful as possible.

There are many cases where poor management over a short time frame has done much damage to a motel business. Often it is difficult for an owner, distance wise, to keep close attention to the business – however there are many ways to check on the business from both a physical and technology perspective.

A recent example of this was a young management couple who were employed to operate a small and successful motel business. At first they seemed competent, however cracks started to appear and the motel owner was becoming aware of issues via questionable purchases for the business and calls of concern from regular guests that the owner was familiar with during his tenure

A phone call to the premises resulted in the owner being advised the manager’s had gone away on holidays and the young girl who answered the phone was “looking after the place”. This resulted then in a confrontation with the managers who then finished their employment with questions left unanswered on many issues that then presented themselves afterwards. The owner then returned to the motel to operate it and commence repairing any damage that had been done to the business. The good news is that within a very short time on the back of showing the guests that the operator was fixing any issues and ensuring they had an enjoyable stay, they were able to start getting back to their previously strong trading.

At the end of the day it shows that a bad manager can do a lot of damage to any business in a short period of time but the right manager can also repair much of this damage in a short time as well. This is a credit to the resilience of motel businesses as a whole.

The demand for good managers today, as mentioned, is far greater than it has been in the past, making it an even more important role for an industry as a whole basis. First time motel owners are fewer in the market at present and experienced owners/operators are the more active in seeking out motel business opportunities. Generally first time owners will operate the motel themselves and are less likely to put a motel under management, at least until they have a good understanding of how the business and motel industry works. The result is a higher demand in today’s market for the professional management team.

Professional management teams/couples/individuals who are experienced in operating motels often have a genuine interest in improving the trading performance of the motel over and above its current trading to confirm their abilities and improve their own remuneration position. The sitting at reception and babysitting the phones holds no interest for them as they are after the challenge of growth and improvement. The type of manager any business owner would seek.

Andrew Morgan, Qld Tourism and Hospitality Brokers

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