Some issues Thai hotel owners have with their managers!

Apr 16 08:01 2010 Maibs Print This Article

However, we all have to be open-minded and accept that there are also managers, not only owners and investors, who are in-capable and who take advantage of others and abuse their authorities. We also have to accept that some managers have even shortcomings in ethics and personal values.

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Our previous articles did focus on hotel owners and investor’s shortcomings, their habits and mistakes.


This article I like to focus on the shortcomings of some general managers. A general manager is a leading position that can lead to either failure or success.


The below are some of the comments we get from hotel owners and investors when they are talking to us about their hotel manager or general manager here in Thailand.


We trust that you see our articles as a benefit for hoteliers, owners and investors at all times. However, knowing the industry well, I foresee that this article might well trigger lots of comments.


However, we all have to be open-minded and accept that there are also managers, not only owners and investors, who are in-capable and who take advantage of others and abuse their authorities. We also have to accept that some managers have even shortcomings in ethics and personal values.


The below did actually happen!


·         The Manager and Suppliers

One manager I got to know of one general manager who never stopped recommending certain suppliers and it was found that he did receive commission on the sale of utensils, equipments and other goods from at least two of the supplier he recommended.  Commission and leader is like “water and oil” in term of ethical practices! Leadership style has a problem if this subject is rumored, raised, discussed.


·         Sales and Marketing

At least twice -as I know, the appointed opening general manager who has also been in charge for sales and marketing of two small scale resorts did cheat the owners with room revenues from travel agents.   As the resorts were in the pre-opening stage, the resort owners have not yet set up the proper company accounts. The un-ethical managers did give their own bank account numbers to agents for payments.  In one case, the damage was over 5 Million Thai Baht!!


·         Entertainment and Complimentary

All too often the manager entertains people who don’t bring any benefit for the business. Complimentary room nights for friends, lots of dinners and drinks for buddies are given!  Some managers did argue about that and say the privilege to entertain friends and others come with the position.  I do not agree! If this benefit is not written in a contract or on a approved benefit list, the manager should be a sample to other managers and show most ethical behavior.  In my opinion it is not acceptable to have 2000-3000 us$ entertainment bill for friends who don’t bring any benefit to the business.



·         The Manager only sits in the office.

Yes, this disturbs many owners. I do not disagree that some ‘office based’ managers in certain operations are very effective indeed.  However, for smaller boutique resorts and hotels, no system beat an ‘on the floor’ manager with ongoing staff and guest contact.


·         The Manager doesn’t understand the culture!

Several times I hear the owners telling me that their manager don’t understand Thai culture.

Some owners just want their manager to ‘blend in’ a little more, but the manager don’t want.

What owners most comment to me is that their manager never “Wai” (Thai greeting gesture); never smile (important in Thailand); never participate in certain staff activities, never respect certain things like a spirit house.


·         The Manager only complaints!

Yes, there are managers who focus more on the problems than on solutions.  Some inexperienced manager don’t understand that there are always changes in plan, changes in lay-out and changes in design during construction when working for the opening of a hotel.  Some changes are the result of poor planning, some changes are needed for unforeseen obstacles, and then, some changes are needed because of certain misunderstanding or mistakes which is human.


·         The Manager doesn’t prioritize during pre-opening.

Some manager just cannot focus on importance. The owner worries on how to finish the hotel as the construction company is not performing as promised.  One case I experienced, the manager only talked for over two weeks about his comfort and standard of his own living such as “my temporary apartment is not comfortable enough!”.  It is not wrong at all, but hearing about his apartment over weeks but never hearing about his work plan as a general manger may actually give a-not-so-good impression to the owners.   Hotel and resort openings are always rough and need 100% commitment and dedication.  Focusing only on one’s own comfort without focusing on work might give owners the wrong impression about the manager.



·         Consider the owner when prioritize the work.

Many times the manager and owner see the importance of outstanding “To Do’s” differently. As the manager is in the operation more often than the owner, the manager tries to prioritize what needs to be addressed and many times the ‘owner issues’ are not on this list. As every manager and owner in this world has his or her own habits and views, this becomes fast an issue with the owner.  May be, it is not general manager’s priority, but it is important for owner.  To avoid clash between GM and owner, consider owner’s priority as well.



·         The Manager is not professional

Yes, this also does happen!  There are managers who are not ethical and unprofessional and only want to have his or her personal gain.  I experienced one resort where the new manager during pre-opening did not lead the preparation and implementation of any hotel policies and procedures at all.  He only wanted to get the authority to make FF&E purchases.  Without any focus on preparing a policy for cash use, purchase policy, accounting standards etc, the manager only wanted cash to go buy things himself. Everyone wondered why he also needs a purchasing manager.




Manager should never forget, in a country like Thailand where kickbacks and commissions are everywhere, the manager soon will lose the respect and trust of the owners as the objective of every owner will be to avoid cash and to have transparent accounting and purchasing policies in place.


There is much more to be written about this!


I sincerely hope that the above will help some managers to understand the Thai owners and investors better and the above tips should result in a longer lasting business relationship between owners and managers.



©Klaus R. Rauter

Managing Director

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About Article Author


Klaus R. Rauter operates a Thailand based hotel consultancy operating in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand. Training Company and Hotel Broker

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