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Hotel Meetings Done Right

Efficiency is the mainstay of any sustainable business and it can only be achieved through effective communication within the company. A typical hotel has various departments that must function in tandem to carry out smooth operations. It is imperative that all staff members within these departments have all the necessary information and updates, daily, regarding the hotel and its guests. Meetings are a powerful medium through which all communication is affected, be it top down or bottom up.

However boring or cumbersome they may sound, meetings are critical. But more important is the way they are conducted. Poorly run meetings with wrong attendees and non-achievement of objectives or reaching conclusions can lead to serious wastage of time and productivity. It is advisable to structure the meeting beforehand based on the components of a typical meeting.

The title of the meeting indicates the type or the purpose of the meeting. Here are the various types of meetings that are held at hotels daily, weekly or monthly.

Daily Management Meeting

Daily Management Meetings, also called ‘morning meetings’ as they are usually held at the beginning of the day, are short meetings where a round-up of the previous day is accounted for and the statistics for the present day are discussed so that all departments are geared for the upcoming business day. They are also referred to as the ‘stand-up management’ meetings and they ideally last for less than 15 minutes. Daily meetings are routine and have a whiff of monotony. To keep such meetings alive and interesting, it is advisable to start the meeting on a positive note by highlighting the wins and employee appreciation for their noteworthy work. The daily management meeting is the daily review of where the hotel stands on that day, specific details of which would be taken up in later meetings if required. It is a recurring meeting that usually takes place every day in a designated meeting room with all department heads in attendance and the GM as the presider. If the GM is not available, they delegate their role to either the Resident Manager, Executive Assistant Manager (EAM) or to any other senior member of the management team. In case a department head is not available, the next person in charge attends the meeting. This meeting is usually preceded or followed by a quick intradepartmental meeting where the function heads discuss the daily business report with their respective team members.

Daily Hotel Rounds

This is more of an everyday meeting for the GM than anyone else. The hotel General Manager meets one of their direct reports – HR, Finance, Sales, Revenue Manager, Front Office Manager, F&B Director etc. - for a one-on-one discussion once a week. The meeting is a mix of in-room and walking meetings. They are focused on strategic issues and involve big-picture discussions. The purpose of these meetings is to understand the successes and failures of the department, the challenges, high potential employees, and the financial review of the department. The department head engages with the GM on what their and the department expectations from the management to be more effective in their performance. The GM also expresses their concern and feedback on the overall performance of the department. The GM often mentors and guides their direct reports to enable them to perform better. These interactions are crucial as they enhance the working relationship between the GM and his/her colleagues, cover more than the day-to-day details and are more nuanced.

Daily Sales Brief

The ‘Daily Sales’ Brief’ is held at the end of each day after the sales’ team has returned to the hotel and filed their daily sales report. Prospecting new business and maintaining guest and corporate relationships are the priorities of any sales team. The briefing session helps to establish clear lines of communications within the sales teams and with other areas of operations. The Director of Sales or the Sales Manager presides over these briefings and tracks the number of calls made during the day and the outcome of those calls. The meeting is attended by the sales team of the hotel, the Reservations Manager, Revenue Manager, F&B manager and chief of Marketing and Communications. The GM may or may not be present at these meetings. However, the minutes of the Daly Sales’ Brief is shared with the GM every day.

During this briefing, the pace, pick up and any lost business are discussed, and any tactical strategy that can enhance that. Relationships with agencies and partners are critical to maximising the outcome and an update on any aspect of these relationships is reported. Furthermore, upcoming events at the hotel and the plan to pick up more such business (if the hotel has ample events’ space) is discussed. Finally, the team is prepared for the next day with specific tasks being allocated and a general plan is outlined so that each member is deliberate in their effort. The meeting usually lasts for 30 minutes.

Weekly Management Meeting

Held at the same time and day each week, this meeting is attended by the senior leadership of the hotel to drive accountability and resolve to impede progress. It is an action-oriented working meeting rather than a reporting and information sharing meeting. The goal of this meeting is to make decisions, identify and solve problems, align cross-functionality, and gain insights into every department. Statistically, this meeting gives the leadership team 52 opportunities to recognise issues before they become major problems, work together to solve them and save resources. Ideally, before each meeting, a department leader is elected to give an insight into their area of the business. Let us call this exercise the ‘Hot Seat’. The person in the hot seat allows for an opportunity to step back, look at progress, and see where plans are aligned in a specific department. Make such meetings personal by talking about your successes, failures and observations during the week to set a cordial tone for the meeting and cultivate an effective working relationship. The GM should take lead. KPIs, Key Performance Indices, area vital metrics that indicate the performance of the hotel. The management can set the KPIs according to what are the most important statistics for the hotel based on the nature of the operations and company values. Variances, guest satisfaction, payables, receivables, online reputation, HLP consumption, events etc. are a variety of indicators from which the most crucial set of KPIs can be derived from. The success of these meeting reflects in the overall operational competence and financial efficacy.

Weekly RevMax Meeting

The nature of these meetings is report, review and strategize. Rooms are the most important product to be sold at a hotel. The optimisation of the sale of the rooms is then paramount. The weekly RevMax meetings are detailed and last for an hour.

The GM provides the high-level strategic changes or direction they are looking for from the strategy team. The Revenue Manager (RM) leads the meeting with the week gone by, budget and the forecast within the 90-day window. The calendar with upcoming events, holiday, long weekends, and the extended window is reviewed.

Various system-generated intelligence package of reports on performance metrics are shared beforehand for everyone to be on the same page. Observations on these reports are discussed to address the shortfalls and analyse the excesses.

Review of:

  • Current Year vs Previous Year and Week over Week variances

  • Pace and pick-up for the current and following months

  • Demand by segment, starting with transient Vs group

  • Key changes over the past seven days

  • Identifying critical need dates

  • Group ceilings — How many rooms is the sales team allotted?

Various factors that influence demand and trends that impact Revenue Management strategies are presented and reviewed. For instance, the general economic climate, emerging industry trends, best practices, and competition are examined. Responsibility for each of these components should be assigned to various team members who track, analyse, and present their observations and updates, precisely, in the meeting.

At some point, the marketing team takes the centre stage. The MarCom (Marketing & Communications) team help in assisting with the ‘valleys’ in demand and organise promotions and campaigns accordingly. They also help formulate special events and packages per the social and holiday calendar to optimise the revenue mix and distribution strategies.

Revenue Management meetings are integral to a hotels pricing and distribution strategy. It is important to conduct these meetings interestingly and logically.

Weekly Guest Satisfaction Meeting

The ability to create memorable experiences for every guest is the fundamental intention of the GM and his team while keeping the business of operating the hotel viable. Distinctive amenities, exceptional customer service with a hint of personal touch draws loyalty and a positive review of the hotel. Reviewing guest satisfaction indices weekly is a significant process that keeps the team true to its intention and practices effective service recovery. Online reputation management has become critical to attracting new business for a hotel. A potential guest tends to read reviews and the rating of the hotel even before exploring the web page of the hotel. Once the guest has selected the hotel, the key guest touchpoints are reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food & beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost & fees. Each touchpoint is defined as the ‘moment of truth’. Ensuring guest satisfaction at every touchpoint is essential in the competitive environment of the industry. Every hotel builds a guest satisfaction system that tracks and measures every guest experience. This exercise provides opportunities for the hotel to improve its service levels and introduce best practices from elsewhere in the industry. These weekly meetings are an essential tool to continuously improve the existing system while addressing grievances. The meeting is attended by all department heads and led by the front office manager and last for about 45 minutes.

Bi-Weekly F&B Operations Meeting

On an average, F&B service and production contributes approximately 40% to 45% to the total revenue of the hotel. Well planned and experiential F&B operations can bring the revenue upwards to match the revenue contribution from rooms. F&B operations at a hotel can keep the hotel vibrant with activity and continuous engagement with non-resident guests and locals as well. The level of engagement that it can generate daily, surpasses the rooms division.

The meeting is attended by the Director of F&B, Restaurant Manager, Bar Manager, Banquets Manager, Executive & Sous Chefs, Head of Finance and Head of Sales & Marketing. The meeting should not last beyond 60 minutes. The meeting covers the gamut of F&B operations – service, production, financial review, sales, promotion, personnel, and forecasts. A substantial portion of the meeting is dedicated to strategy formulation to cover shortfalls, enhance revenues, align with market and local trends etc. Guest feedback specifically for F&B Operations is reviewed and analysed. Service levels and quality of food are examined along with ambience, variety of food, cleanliness & hygiene, and billing issues etc. For the F&B outlets at a hotel, it is important to understand the local F&B market in the city or the region. Many standalone restaurants and cafes drive the local market with innovation and technology. To stay relevant amongst the residents of the city works in the favour of the F&B outlets at the hotel. With an entire team of specialists working behind the scenes, it might be easier for these outlets to achieve a sizable share of the local market.

The GM often brings his experience of working in various markets and guides with the team sometimes with his conventional wisdom and at other times with his innovative ideas.

Bi-Weekly Sales & Marketing Meeting

“When we short-change the face-to-face, we short-change the relationship. It’s easy to replace a vendor you’ve never met, but people think twice before firing a colleague or friend that they respect on a personal level.”, said Thom Singer. And he is right. Meetings can be exhausting but when people meet face to face, they draw better synergies.

Sales and Marketing teams need to work symbiotically. It is pertinent that these teams meet regularly and form a better working relationship and help each other to further the goals and objectives of the hotel. Together, their key driving force is to ensure that the hotel achieves its fair share of the market, at minimum, in terms of occupancy and ADR every single day. The purpose of the meeting is to develop programmes to make lucrative use of its rooms, meeting space, and allied facilities along with the review of the performance during the previous fortnight and the forecast for the upcoming fortnight.

The meeting is divided into two segments – Sales and Marketing. Both teams present their parts with numbers, observations, and questions.

The sales team covers updates and review of:

  • Revenue figures, Misses & Wins

  • RFPs & Corporate Contracts

  • Feedback from the market

  • Forecast – Estimated Numbers

  • Competitor Review

The marketing team includes updates and review of:

  • Branding, Website and Social Media

  • Agencies and Partners

  • Budget and its usage towards for advertising, promotions, and campaigns

  • Social Calendar

  • New initiatives

  • Competitor Review

The meeting is numbers and data-oriented.

How many leads are marketing handing over? How many of those are converting? And at what value? how many leads are sales following up with? How many upsell or cross-sell opportunities have they pursued with happy customers? What is the best rate on which channel? Where are the bookings coming from (source and channel)? These are some significant questions that are answered and deliberated upon.

The marketing team creates content to communicate with the potential guests and customers, and the sales team directly interacts with these potential guests and customers. To make this loop work, the exchange of information and data is critical

Weekly Receivables Meeting

Maintaining a steady cash flow is essential for the financial health of the hotel. Having a handle on receivables is important. These are accounts that owe money to the hotel. Once this money is received, only then can the hotel pay its vendors and creditors. Lack or delay of which can cause problems in the relationships between the hotel and its vendors and upset the cycle upon which the cash flow works. Sometimes money gets trapped in this system adversely affecting the cash flow. Hotels need liquidity to reduce their debt levels, fund growth, buy new equipment and maximise shareholder returns. The straightforward practice is to know when to invoice, how much and when to collect. For this purpose, certain processes are followed to ensure that the accounts receivable is settled.

  • An ageing report is maintained where the invoices towards accounts receivable are itemized by their due date. There is a stipulated lag time, typically 30 days, within which the invoice is required to be settled by the debtor. Any invoice over 60 or 90 days merits immediate review and a follow-up with the debtor.

  • Late / Delayed / Defaulted Payment Policy (Late Payment) – Every company has a standard, comprehensive late payment policy which is customised based on the negotiation with the customers. The policy includes financial penalties and the specific actions that will be taken against the customer in case of late payment.

The weekly receivables meetings are not more than half an hour where the ageing report is reviewed, and the late /delayed payments are analysed. The CFO leads the meeting with the support of the finance team. The GM, Director of Sales, CA and the legal counsel are present at the meeting. The recovery action is strategized to ensure the receipt of the payments as enforcing late/delayed payment policy, although routine, but is discouraged as there are some crucial and longstanding relationships at stake. Sometimes, to win accounts and cultivate new relationships, credit is extended, discounts are offered, and payment terms are neglected. During the meeting, certain hard decisions that are made about handling such situations as the business cannot suffer to appease a few customers. Carrying overdue accounts receivable has a financial cost too. The other side of the cash flow is accounts payable, which is the next point.

Weekly Payables Meeting

Accounts payable is the opposite of accounts receivable for businesses. It is the money that the business owes to its vendors, agencies et al. With cash flow at the centre, the lag time for accounts payable is longer than that for accounts receivable, typically 60-days. Late/Delayed Payments adversely affect the hotel’s goodwill with the suppliers, and they are less willing and prompt to work with the hotel. On the other hand, paying early or even on time often work in favour of the hotel with the suppliers more than willing to work with the hotel and often offer discounts or easy payment terms.

The best way to maintain accounts payable efficiently is a regular review of the ageing reports, effective inventory management, and centralised payment and processing. Maintaining favourable relationships with the suppliers, vendors and agencies is critical. Therefore, payments should be released timely to garner goodwill and whenever necessary, contract and payment terms must be reviewed. During these meetings, new vendors are evaluated, and the preferred supplier list is revisited so that the quality goods and services can be procured on the best terms. The procurement process should be also reviewed in this meeting from time to time to incorporate best practices and the adoption of the latest tools. Sustaining liquidity/working capital always is the aim of reviewing accounts receivable and payable. The hotel must have access to cash for its daily operations without depending on external funding. A succinct working capital strategy is necessary to run the day-to-day business, enable growth, reduce debt, invest, and maintain material and human resources.

While there are various ways to free up capital, focus on accounts receivable and payable is crucial.

Monthly MIS Meeting

All daily, weekly, and bi-weekly meetings lead to the Monthly MIS meeting. This meeting is a culmination of the entire operations through the month. The GM with the HODs is present for the meeting where all departments present the overview of their respective departments. This meeting can last up to 90 minutes during certain months. As all departments are in attendance, a review of the previous month and forecast for the upcoming month is undertaken to align and prepare the team.

As this meeting tends to be lengthy, it is advised that certain elements of fun are introduced to keep everyone interested and alert. Themes, celebrations, mentoring etc. can be considered for the meeting. During this meeting, the Profit & Loss Statement is reviewed and analysed for variances. All variances, positive and negative, are explained and the reconciliation course is arrived at in case of negative variance. Once the entire P&L is scrutinised, each department is evaluated on its performance through the month. Challenges are identified and resolved, or a course of action is determined. The meeting covers all bases regarding the hotel – the physical infrastructure, operations, employees and guests while examining the financial performance of the hotel. The meeting also provides for an appropriate background to discuss existing and new policies, new initiatives and ideation. Many department heads use this as a forum to coordinate better with other departments and educate each other about their respective challenges and exchange information.

Monthly Stakeholders’ Meeting

Also called as the Owner's Meeting, this meeting is convened to keep the shareholders on the same page as the annual general meeting takes place once a year. It is a short and crisp meeting that lasts less than 30 minutes. The two key aspects that the shareholders want to keep a track of are – the financial health of the hotel and the reputation of the hotel on various online platforms. The GM opens the meeting with the latest happenings at the hotel, recent wins, and successes. They then walk the shareholders through the financial statements providing notes wherever required. Any fund requirements for specific capital investments or working capital shortfalls are highlighted with a strategy to recover the losses or bridge the gap. An overview of the new policies, initiative and process roll out are presented with their anticipated/estimated impact on the hotel operations, employees, and guests. The shareholders are keen to learn about the standing of the hotel on rating and ranking portals. Any positive or negative movement in these parameters is reported with valid reasoning. Reputation is particularly important as that adds to the market value of the hotel. Finally, the floor is opened for feedback from the shareholders. One of the goals of running a business is to maximise shareholders’ profit and such meetings keep the business true to its goals and objectives.

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