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Hotelier of the Month: Jorge Carlos Smith

Jorge Carlos Smith was born in Mozambique, with ancestral roots in Macau. He graduated Hotel Management from Huddersfield University. Landed his first job at THF Hotels in London and the Algarve then moved to Mandarin Oriental Macau and Hotel Bela Vista and remained in Macau for 10 years. Now, he is the General Manager at Hard Rock Hotel & Café Pattaya.

 What’s the most challenging in running a hotel?

There isn’t one single thing, The simplest things are often the most challenging to deliver.  There’s a need to get the team to move in the same direction, at the same speed, with the same effectiveness, energy, and attention to detail. It requires a great deal of internal Branding work, communication and personalized coaching, across all levels but particularly at department head and sub-department head levels.  All this in a competitive environment that is dynamic and ever-changing in customer demand and expectation, as well as staff attitudes, priorities, culture. All the while, delivering a competitive product profitably.

Have you ever been given any advice that proved not to be true?

Sure. It is part of our job to filter the bullshit from the good stuff. They may not always be ill intentioned but just misguided or without an accurate analysis of the situation.  But it behoves the manager to ask the right question to the right person.

What was the darkest moment in your career?

Being removed from a position without apparently any just cause. In retrospect, there was a lack of clarity and conviction to voice out what was required, from my superior and by myself, that help was indeed needed.  Suffering in silence and self-pity is rather destructive. Talking helps.

If you could turn back time, what would be the one thing you would have changed in your career?

With the benefit of hindsight, one can say quite a lot, and yet changing something would not have guaranteed any desired outcome.  I could have ended up today in different situation, or with a different outlook, which would be unknown in any case.  So there is no point in regrets, but we do need to learn from our past mistakes and successes.

What are your preferred sources when it comes to learning about hotels?

Colleagues, friends, customers, the net, going out and seeing.

Are you a “lobby GM” or a “Numbers GM”? – And what is the importance of being a Lobby and /or a Numbers GM

Both. Despite advances in IT, technology and the current state of culture, the hospitality business, my hotel specifically, is still to a great extent based on human interaction to deliver the desired experience.  But a smaller or larger amount of tech is considered normal nowadays. It is clear to most that higher end, i.e. high touch properties, are invariably strengthened by high tech, not replaced by  tech. But the development of ecommerce, revenue management, online distribution, reputation management, online marketing are new fields of knowledge required to execute any hotel’s business plan today, and these are all desk based.

What kind of marketing tools you find to be effective in PR&Marketing in the hotel world today?

Largely it depends on the market level, location, culture, product, brand etc but we use more and more online marketing through own website, OTAs, social media, bloggers, branded partnerships. But we don’t rule out traditional media, which is still used by certain customers and segments. Most of these will have in any case an online presence.  However, igniting passions and story-telling is still the key, and word-of-mouth is still the thing, albeit more and more delivered online and with mobility.

Visit Jorge at Hard Rock Hotel & Café Pattaya.

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