Hotels are a hive of activity. With hundreds of guests coming and going throughout the week, the day-to-day management of a hotel and its staff requires a wide range of responsibilities. To give you a better idea of how it works behind the scenes, we had a chat with David Croasdale, Cluster General Manager of four Hallmark Hotels in Derby and Hull.
What does a general manager do at Hallmark Hotels?
The main priority is the care of the guests. When I start work, I usually have a walk around the hotel to check that everything is as it should be, the guests are being looked after and the teams are all in place and happy.
Talking to the team is important, making sure that they are okay and doing a good job. If they’re happy then 99% of the time the customers will be well looked after, so it’s really important that we’re taking care of the team and they’re firing on all cylinders.
I’m also responsible for the financial side: forecasting, the numbers, making sure that sales are happening and everything is in good shape.
What do you find most rewarding about the role of general manager?
The interaction with people, either normal guests staying with us at the hotel or the lots of different people who come in all the time. A couple of days ago I spoke to a mum treating her daughter; the daughter’s a full-time carer, so mum brought her to the hotel for afternoon tea as a bit of a treat.
If we have any lull periods, then I work with my team to think about things we can do to move those lull periods on a little bit. Sometimes we create different packages – whether that’s residential or whether that’s specials for the restaurant, a murder mystery night, or something else. It’s quite a diverse role and there are lots of things in there that I enjoy.
Describe a perfect day in your region? What would you recommend to guests?
We’ve got a fantastic location with so much to see and do. If you’re young at heart or have kids, we’ve got Alton Towers, which is barely half an hour away from Derby.
We’ve got Chatsworth House, which again is about 40 minutes away and it’s absolutely magnificent, it really is. The grounds and gardens are superb, plus they have different things going on at different times of the year; the Christmas market’s up there and it’s fabulous when the house is decorated for Christmas, really lovely!
We’re sat just on the edge of the Peak District National Park, the second biggest national park in the world, which has some fantastic places to visit. Bakewell, Matlock, Ashbourne and Buxton are all beautiful, with nice traditional tea rooms and pubs.
You’ve also got all the great walks and riding routes – it’s a popular area for cyclists, whether that’s road bikes or mountain bikes. If you love the outdoors – cycling, rock climbing or trekking – it’s all there for you.
Have you met anyone famous while working?
I’ve met a few people: Victoria Beckham, Robbie Williams, Shirley Bassey, a couple of years ago, and a few ministers whose names I can’t remember. I used to work at a hotel in Cheshire and quite a few of the Manchester United players used the golf course nearby – we’re going back quite a few years, so the likes of Andy Cole, Peter Schmeichel, Fergie used to play off there. We also had Andy Cole’s wedding and one of the guitarists from Coldplay had their wedding at the hotel too.
What’s the funniest / most interesting incident that has happened to you on the job?
I’ve announced the bride and groom at quite a few weddings. One time, we had a bride that was called Michelle and I announced her as Michael. It was quite a small and intimate wedding, around 40 or so people, luckily everyone saw the funny side, so that was quite amusing, bless them.
In your opinion, what makes a great hotel?
The staff: If somebody comes in and they’ve had a rubbish journey in the car but they arrive to a really good check-in from the receptionist – polite, happy, friendly – it can make all the difference.
We also have what’s called a ‘surprise and delight’ on the front desk from 4pm onwards that includes pieces of cake, chocolate tart or brownie the guests can have a nibble on when they’re checking in. As the old saying goes ‘people buy people first’; we just want to make our guests day from the moment they arrive at the hotel and if you have a team that are motivated, you’re more than halfway there.