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‘Ehhhhh’

?Ehhhhh?

Whenever I tell anyone I have moved to overnights, I usually get the following responses:  

I’m so sorry.”  

“Oh my God, why?”
 
“What happened?”

Or, my favorite:

“Ehhhhh.”

I must admit I was hesitant to take the job of overnight hotel manager. Even though it is a lateral move it is a tough one to accept. You’re making a complete lifestyle change. It’s not called the “graveyard shift” for nothing — sleep all day, work all night. To most people it seems, well, terrible, and at first I must admit that was my perception. 

I’m on day five as I write this. To be honest, I am actually really enjoying it. I get a set schedule with days off, and all of us ops people know how rare that is in our industry. I don’t consider myself a routine person, but I must admit a routine is a welcome change after a year-and-a-half of sporadic schedules. I get more time at the gym, I don’t have to set an alarm once I get home, and BEST of all, I get to have dinner home with my family, which is what I missed most of all when working days. Trust me, when you have parents who cook like mine do, it’s significant. So the toll I thought it was going to take on my personal life has actually not been so bad.

From a working standpoint, the overnight gives me complete ownership of my shift. During my shift I am the only manager on duty, and therefore all responsibility falls on me. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re running arguably the busiest hotel in the city that never sleeps, it can be a bit of a daunting task. It’s nice to manage a small staff and really engage each of them. The night audit team definitely has a disconnect from the rest of staff. I would definitely refer to it as the “forgotten shift.” As little recognition as it gets, it is an incredibly vital part of the operation. We make sure the system is rolled over correctly, and we help ensure that the day ahead is a successful one.

My main goal is to improve communication. I know the most frustrating thing for this shift is walking into the hotel blindly. My least favorite aspect of this shift is that I usually walk into chaos. Ten p.m. (shift start) is always a busy time of night. We are usually getting low on rooms, staff is dwindling and most guests have been traveling all day and just want to sleep. It’s okay for me to walk in and figure out what is going on, but that’s not what I want for my staff. One of the first steps I’ve taken is for an activity report to be sent to my team, including myself, around 8 p.m. to give us a sense of what we will be walking into. This will include numbers (occupancy, arrivals, departures, what our reservation system is open to, etc.) staffing, group information, VIP information and general information (OOS rooms, renovation updates, etc.). My hope is that this will set us up for a smoother and more productive shift.

As always, I appeal to the young hoteliers out there to embrace this challenge if it ever comes your way. Please do not look at it as a burden or a punishment. No general manager or rooms exec leaves their hotel to just anyone during such a critical time. It is a learning opportunity that will pay dividends. Plus, if you are able to make a real difference and stand out, it will not go unnoticed. This position builds character and humility, and is a real standout on a resume.

With all that being said, another plus is I will have more time to contribute here!

Also, I would love to hear some best practices/SOPs that have been successful in your respective properties to help me be successful at mine.

Thanks!

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