There is no real way to explain the day in the life of a general manager of a boutique hotel in Houston, because our day is ever-changing and because we operate in a 24/7 environment, it’s a day that never really ends. I have approached and described my work as taking care of a living, breathing entity, which needs my constant attention. If I fail to do this, I feel that my guests, owners, and fellow associates would not get the experience they are expecting.
My workday starts in earnest as soon as my alarm goes off in the morning. I grab my phone and scroll through the inbox looking in particular for the phrases, “incident report”, “red alert”, or “fire alarm”. Any message like that would get my immediate attention, although I know that my highly-trained staff would call me immediately if anything serious occurred.
Once I am at my beautiful hotel in Houston, TX – Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE – I walk through the back of the house areas like the laundry department, PBX operators, and housekeeping areas to greet our associates a good morning. Our associates are the team players who are taking great care of our customers. Then, I make my way to our lobby where we serve a complimentary breakfast to make sure the service is going well and everyone is in place and offering our exceptional service standards.
Now I move on to the part of the day where I double check all the numbers from the day prior to make certain all the revenue posted correctly, review call logs from the previous evening, review the security log, and look at how much revenue we put on the books the day prior for the current month and subsequent months. If I have any questions or concerns, I will bring them up at the 9 AM stand up meeting I have with all of my department heads. This daily meeting is a quick review of the day prior, VIP’s arriving, events for the day, and other activities taking place in the hotel. We move fast and conclude this meeting usually within ten minutes.
I’ll then walk all the guest floors looking for items that need repair or a little cleaning, while the rest of the team winds down the intense period of service that takes place between 5:30 and 9:30. A business hotel it is generally very quiet during the day in most areas with the exception of banquets, so this is the time we spend cleaning, training associates, and getting the hotel ready for the evening when everyone returns. The remaining part of my day is usually walking through the hotel, speaking with associates, making sure we are staying on top of our service standards, ordering supplies, and accommodating happy guests.
Constant and consistent training and development of our team members is very much part of the Valencia culture. I make certain associates and managers are following our STARR standards which is commonly referred to as our top 6 service standards. STARR is an acronym meaning – Service, Teamwork, Accomplishment Reward Recognition and is the Valencia Group program centered around exceptional service and cohesive teamwork.
At our orientation, everyone is given a pocket-sized card as a quick referral on those top 6 standards to remember which are:
- Follow the 10/5 Rule
- Inspect what you Expect
- Own the problem
- Project a sense of urgency
- Project empathy
I find myself quizzing associates at random and giving movie tickets, cash, and other incentives to those who can name what those 6 standards. As an extension of those STARR Standards, I also make sure we are embracing the Valencia Group STARR program which is giving fellow associates and managers a STARR card which is literally shaped like a ‘star’ and is an internal recognition program. Cards are given to those managers and associates for going above and beyond with both the internal and external guests. At the end of every month, the associate who has the most STARR cards is recognized as our shining STARR of the month and is given an incentive. At our year end, we recognize our top 3 shining STARR associates and managers for our STARR of the year!
Additionally, I make certain our food and beverage outlets are thriving especially since Valencia Group’s restaurants and bars are known to be at the center of the community and providing hip and sophisticated offerings. Our restaurant- The Bistro, and our bar-the Monnalisa are not only popular with the hotel guests, but with our locals as well. On a weekly basis, I attend staff meetings, meet with any meeting planners, go on sales calls, and participate in hotel as well as community events.
With regards to community, Valencia Group truly believes in giving back to the local community. Our hotel being the anchor of the mixed used development CITYCENTRE, gives us plenty of opportunities to create partnerships. By partnering with not-for-profits, we host creative events such as Fashiontini® and the Art of Wine. This allows us to work together to bring awareness to various causes while raising money and hosting fashion-forward, hip events.
As my day at the hotel winds down, I always ask myself if there are ways we can better service our guests and how to continue to serve and exceed expectations, making Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE the best Hotel in Houston. I know if I can answer that we did make even a small improvement over the day prior the end result will be an improved experience for our guests, owners, and associates. I have a passion for service and enjoy seeing our guests experience authentic hospitality. Whether it’s an amenity for a birthday or a surprise dessert for an anniversary dinner, I believe in that sense of surprise to our customers. At Valencia Group, the culture is to thrive to instill a passion for service amongst our management team. I enjoy seeing my team grow and developing them to see them move ahead in their careers. We like to promote from within for natural fits to the next level and I’m proud to say that Marcus Latner, under my recent leadership, will be moving on to be the General Manager of our new retro-inspired hotel in Austin, TX- Lone Star Court. I truly see my role is that of a facilitator that works to make sure everyone is equipped to do his or her job. I’m fortunate to be supported by a group of dedicated people that I trust very much to reflect and display the personalized service culture we have established over the past three years.
GM of Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE | Houston, TX