Running the Show in 2016: GMs share leadership styles
Running the Show in 2016: GMs share leadership styles
17 JANUARY 2017 8:22 AM

GMs from across the globe shared their insights with Hotel News Now throughout 2016.

GLOBAL REPORT—Every property comes with its own unique set of quirks and challenges, but GMs at these 10 hotels have a lot in common in how they have found success.

Speaking with Hotel News Now for its “Running the Show” series, hotel managers said their focus primarily has been on three principles: fun, variety and people.

Here’s a look back at the GMs we spoke to in 2016 and some of the advice they had to share for hoteliers.

Tommie Van, GM of The Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/Loop, remembered something an employer once said to him: "... I can't teach you about how to treat people. That's something you inherit, and you've inherited it. That"s something we want as part of our team."

Variety is what makes the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina in Reykjavik, Iceland, a hip scene, said GM Birgir Gudmundsson. "There are few hotels in Iceland that have such a varied persona," he said, "and that definitely works in the guests' favor, too."

Casey Illig, GM of the Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus Airport in Columbus, Ohio, said about her career in the hotel industry: "Every day is different. If you don't like today, it doesn't matter because tomorrow I'm going to have a whole new set of guests. I'm going to have a whole new set of experiences."

In Abu Dhabi, it’s much the same, based on statements by Andrew Humphries, regional VP and GM of the Yas Viceroy hotel on Yas Island. “I wanted variety in a profession,” he said, “something that was not primarily office-based, where I could use operational skills and have fun.”

But in the hotel business, of course, a lot hinges on location. For Sheraton Grand Los Angeles GM Jonathan Litvack, that location is a buzzing LA scene, which he has seen revitalized along with his property. The best advice he’s ever received in his career: “That a GM should be more focused on the great questions rather than the correct answer.”

Michael Murphy, GM of the SpringHill Suites & Residence Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayfront: “Something that I do immediately is I learn the associates’ names within the first two weeks. I learn about their families, and it’s very important to make that connectivity. … It goes back to Marriott’s philosophy of ‘If you take care of the associates, the associates will take care of the guests and the guests will come back.’”

Antoine Berberi, GM of Hotel Vitale in San Francisco: “It’s the people that keep me going every day. It’s all about service—making guests happy, and transforming (employees) into their better selves.”

Will White, GM of the Delta Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, Florida: “A successful hotel is a hotel that has engaged associates that are supported, listened to and given opportunities just like I was.”

Oliver Kesseler, GM of the Hilton Garden Inn Dubai Mall of the Emirates in Dubai: “(The best advice I ever received) … is to stay as you are, true and honest to yourself.”

John Taffin, GM of the Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach in Honolulu: “What I’ve learned about the people in the area we hired, they have that sense and spirit of ‘aloha.’ We’re trying to maximize the potential of how to help the individual customers enjoy their stay. The Hilton Garden Inn doesn’t have to be the destination, but the experience has to be something they remember.”

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