The Critical Path for a new General Manager to open the hotel: An Ultimate Guide

critical path

As a General Manager, if you are opening a hotel, you will have to do a series of task. These tasks are called Critical path to open a hotel.

I remember the time, I first opened a hotel as a General Manager. After the happiness of getting the promotion waned out, the reality of the task hit me.

What should I focus on, spend time on? All relevant questions.

In this post I will show you the exact steps you need to take and if you follow the list, you will be able to open the hotel successfully.

The path just provides a guide to follow along for 6 months from the time you join the hotel to opening the hotel.

In some cases you may not get 6 months, In some you may get more time if you are opening a luxury hotel. This is a long guide with steps and some links which explain in details the steps to be taken.

If you bookmark the page and return often, you will be able to guide your hotel opening properly, specially if you are a first time General Manager

Upto 6 months

  • Hire a Director of Sales and Chief Engineer: These are your 2 key positions in the hotel during the hotel opening. Sales head to start working on the marketing plan and Chief engineer to start understanding the working of the hotel
  • Create a Hotel Organization Chart: A hotel organization chart will give you an over all guidance on how to plan your staffing. Rough thumb rules can help you initially, however you need to start getting specific.
  • Develop a Hotel Positioning and Business Plan: Once your Sales head is hired, brainstorm and identify your positioning, your competition and how you can compete with them.
  • Coordinate with project team for all building drawing : Projects team will be busy with their own work, so make sure, you organize regular coordination meeting with them. Initially these meeting can be weekly, but as the project starts to get closer to completion, you must plan to meet the project team daily.
  • Hire HR Manager and Finance Manager: The next set of management hire must be the HR manager and Finance manager. They will coordinate with hiring other team members and also set up controls.
  • Hire Sales Team: Getting the sales team onboard will be another important task. If you are hiring sales team members from the market, they will have notice period etc. You will have to plan for that time line before the decision to hire.
  • Finalize the Marketing plan for the hotel for the first 3 years: While you will need to set up the hotel for the year, having a plan for 3 years allows you to look at a long term strategy that you can then use to make a tactical plan. Read this article on how to make a Marketing plan
  • Check and ensure Signage and exterior Signages are ordered: These huge signage on top of the building, take time to erect. Make sure you find a vendor and place an order for the signage.
  • Hire Revenue Manager if applicable: If your hotel requires a dedicated revenue manager, hire the person or else hire the front office person who will act as revenue manager.
  • Design and build a website: If you are working in a branded hotel, this part will mostly be taken care by the corporate office team. You will not have much to do in this, other than give the required information. However if you are opening a non branded hotel, you will have to find a designer and develop a website capable of taking online reservations. Even though you may make only 5 % of your revenue from the website, it provides a good branding to your hotel.
  • Hire a PR and Marketing Agency: During opening of the hotel, you will have an opportunity to create a buzz in the market about the launch. It is essential that you hire a PR and Marketing agency who will be able to create that impact about your hotel in the market. Read how to hire a PR agency.
  • Make an operational budget: The budget is a financial document that will help you to plan for the revenue and expenses. If you do not know how to make a budget and it is your first time making one, download the template and follow this article.
  • Place order for Computer Systems and IT infrastructure: Placing orders for computer system is not an easy task, and it is best to work with consultants. With many models and obsolete technology, an IT consultant will help you provide value for money by suggesting the right requirement for your hotel.
  • Make a list of Operating Equipment and Supplies: As these items will have lead times you have to make a BOQ to start getting quotes. You can use a consultant for this or purchase this file which will help you make your starter list ready. Once the department heads join, you can further streamline this file and place the order.
  • Apply for Classification to Ministry of Tourism: If you need to apply for classification, you will have to apply at the MOT website and start the process of paperwork. There are consultants who can help you with this.
  • Hire the Leadership team: Includes all the department head who have not been hired so far. You will have to hire them as per the hiring guidelines that your and your HR manager set in place.

Upto 3 months

  • Place orders for Internet and Telephone needs: You will need to calculate the hotel bandwidth needs and take a line accordingly. Also depending on your internet policy, i.e how many devices you will allow complimentary, you may need to take bandwidth. Plan for BOH and staff areas as well.
  • Look at the city liquor laws and apply in time: Liquor license is a state subject and will vary as per state. Know the rules applicable in your state and purchase accordingly.
  • Develop a Hiring plan for your team: Will you go for campus recruitment, or hold a walk in interview day. Or hire from references. what ever you choose, you need to plan to make sure you are able to hire the numbers you need before the hotel opens, so that you can train the team as well on your standards and procedures.
  • Develop a Compensation model: How much will you pay, what are your competitors paying, what is the minimum wages in your city. You need to know and understand these before you start making an offer. Also this will help you to make the operational budget as payroll will have a huge impact on the budget.
  • Make a Crisis Management plan: A detailed crisis management document will help you be prepared for any emergency. By planning for every crisis that can happen and making an action plan for it, you will be prepared to train your team should an emergency happen. Purchase the Emergency Fire Response Template
  • Make Daily Market list and establish par levels of various store items: While these will keep changing over time depending on the business needs, you should establish a par level for various items so that you can place the first order.
  • Get all department managers to make the SOP for their department: An SOP is a standard way of operating the hotel. Not much attention goes into the document. However if made well, it becomes a training document for your team. If you spend time on this document, your future training will be very easy. Just copying and pasting some SOP will not work. Make sure you customise the SOP for your hotel and see that it works for you. Review it and give your feedback
  • Explain the Hotel Business Position and Marketing plan to the Department Heads: Plan a training session to explain the plan to all department heads, so that they understand the hotel and what is expected out of them. Plan a day of training, get your team together, present the plan and solicit feedback to improve on any tactics.

Upto 2 month

  • Hire Supervisors and Train Them: With the managers hired, you must hire the supervisors in all departments and then train them to your standards. Upgrade their skills with a supervisory development course.
  • Schedule Fire and Life safety Inspections: Various cities have requirements of fire department clearance before you begin the hotel operation. Understand them and take approvals.
  • Complete hiring of all team members and give them offer letters. The team members must be able to join at least a month prior to hotel opening. So you need to give them the offer 2 months out so that they can finish the notice period in the current company.
  • Make a marketing plan for your Food and Beverage outlets: Complete competition survey for local restaurants, identify the SWOT and plan your menu and trails.
  • Establish Supply chain and procurement process: Buy 5 to 7 days stock and start storage on property.
  • Receive Operating supplies and equipment: Make a process of receiving the operating supplies and take an inventory. It is critical to do this at the time of receiving so that we know if everything we ordered has been received.

Upto 1 month

  • Ensure construction complete in all areas: By the time the hotel is one month away from opening, the construction and civil work must be complete. All areas must be cleaned and start to look like a hotel.
  • Onboard all team members: Get the team members to finish joining formalities and enroll them for training. Give the team a lifetime access to grow and learn at their own pace.
  • Install all IT systems and software: Begin training on the various POS, PMS and other technology in the hotel.
  • Check High speed Internet, Television channels.
  • Conduct Fire Evacuation Drill for the team: And other mandatory training like first aid, Prevention of Sexual Harassment etc.
  • Get all licenses required to run the hotel: Keep a copy on file before you begin operations. Read what all licenses you may need to open the hotel
  • Provide Vendor training: All engineering equipment vendors should conduct training for the team to familiarize them of the operation and basic preventive maintenance.
  • Make the rooms: Wash the terry and linen and start making the bed rooms.
  • Run Simulations: In food and beverage and in rooms. Have team members eat in the restaurant and stay in the hotel to find out any issue and snags with the rooms. Fix issues as they occur
  • Clean the hotel and prepare for guest arrival
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After Opening

  • Focus on Guest Experience: Provide good quality guest experience, ask them to review the hotel on various social channels and OTA.
  • Market the hotel: You made a marketing and positioning plan a few months back. Work as per plan or if market conditions have changed, tweak it and make changes.

In Conclusion

Opening a hotel is a series of moving steps with all departments involved in this task. Being a General Manager, your task is to coordinate the various moving parts just like a director making a movie.

Stay on top of the opening with a critical path that can help you coordinate with other departments.

Buy the critical path file and make your life simpler

Have you opened a hotel before? What was your experience. Let us know of you faced any unique challenge in opening the hotel.

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