Mark Westbrook

There is an immense amount of responsibility for the General Manager of a resort. Unlike most jobs or departments that have their unique specialization or focus, a general manager is responsible for overseeing ALL departments that have anything to do with the resort and its well-being.

To start out the new year these are just some of the things that General Managers have on their plates and some tips to make 2016 your resort’s best year yet!

Staying Within a Resort’s Budget

Mark Westbrook
Mark Westbrook

This is one of the most important things for a resort General Manager simply because failure to do so would be detrimental to the entire resort causing an inability to keep functioning and pay the bills such as payroll and utilities. Some of the top tips, from Defender Resorts President and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Westbrook include:

  • Planning is everything. Making sure everything is included in the budget from the beginning of  the year is crucial. Budget planning meetings often involve many people and take hours to fully have an all encompassing budget.
  • Constant review. You have to continuously monitor what you’ve spent to make sure it’s on track with the budget or if adjustments need to be made throughout the year.
  • Smart shopping
  • Quality improvements that last

Striving to Improve Revenue
The world of timeshare, especially fixed time, has been changing as owner maintenance fees alone are not enough to truly both sustain a resort, fund improvements and make it profitable. One of the best ways to improve revenue is through renting unused inventory. Some tips for General Managers to promote that unused inventory include:

  • Social Media is a great tool to show case what is great about your resort, location and more.
  • TripAdvisor, a general manage having a presence here can showcase to travelers the details of the resort and most importantly how much the staff cares.
  • Online Travel Agents – listing inventory on these helps to get your resort found
  • Quality web site, while online travel agents are a good way to get found if you have a quality web site with clear calls to actions and transparent marketing your resort saves a lot in fees.
  • Continuously monitoring rates, you have to be consistently seeing what your competitors are  charging and having a sliding scale for rates as it is one of the top things people search for resorts by.

Owner Receivables/Collections
Collections are an integral part of making sure your income meets the levels it needs to in order feed your budget.

  • Sound policy in place so, that specific thresholds are met by specific time periods that are set forth.
  • Use benchmarks as a timeframe to collect funds or touch owners with communications and reminders.
  • ACH direct monthly drafts have greatly increased the ability for owners to be able to pay
  • The more options you give, the easier you make it for the owner which will increase owner retention and prevent fallout

Guest Satisfaction & Comfort
While the details of the resort can sit at the top of a general manager’s mind they must always keep in mind that the entire reason the resort exists is to give guests a great vacation experience. They and their staff have to give guests the customer service experience they want and deserve. Some top things to stay at the top of guest satisfaction include:

  • Well trained employees that offer great service, often when hiring we need to keep in mind that technical things such as computer systems can be learned so hire for personality, train for skills.
  • Cleanliness, our best general managers train their staff to hold the resort to the highest cleanliness standards and then they continue to check on those standards themselves.

Communications with Owners

  • Email newsletters and blasts keep everyone up-to-date with low costs
  • Special owner sections of web sites
  • Mailings
  • Owner service reps so owners have a direct contact they know and are comfortable reaching out to

Employee Communications

  • Regular, but not too many meetings
  • Defender Resorts hold an annual conference for General Managers so they can all get together for education, communication and team camaraderie
  • Touching base, regular visits for support from corporate executives and regional directors of operations

Choosing Suppliers

  • Get multiple quotes for everything
  • Test everything, if you wouldn’t like it you can’t expect your guests to
  • Buy in bulk
  • Buy quality
  • Utilities, look into tapping into group buying or other resources such as solar.
  • Westbrook highly recommends managers check city, county, state and federal initiatives for going green and see if there are any tax breaks, low-interest loans or other things available for improvements

Safety & Security

  • Cameras & surveillance
  • Proper, up-to-date electronic locking mechanisms with keys that can be changed each stay
  • Peep holes
  • Deadbolts or other locks that occupant can lock from inside
  • Signs to remind guests not to keep valuables out in the open
  • Up to date appliances, outlets and fire alarms
  • Continuous checking and record keeping of electronics, alarms, etc by housekeeping, maintenance and general manager