Category Archives: Hotel Programs & Workshops

Hotel turnover part II!!

Welcome hoteliers!

In the last article I gave a small synopsis about the hotel turnover in China, Korea, and the USA.

Today I want to just show you a little of my experience dealing with it. I’m still a young manager but I am a unique one with unique solutions; I say that because I did not have a mentor or someone’s example to go after, so I want to share my solutions and hope that it helps others! Let’s start with… China of course!



Within my first three months, we lost four front desk agents and had hired two interns and two new front desk agents. To the other managers, this was clockwork, but it bothered me. I wanted to do something about it. And it was very simple, just as one former employee stated… “I’ll go work an office job, get normal hours, and a higher pay,” I realized that in the staff’s mind, there’s no benefit for working in a hotel.

I decided to talk with all of the agents, to see where they may be unhappy and where the opportunities for growth may lie; surely there’s more than work, go home, and eat food. And then it dawned on me, China has a problem instilling hope on their workers. I mean, why come to work in a hotel? If the answer was just to survive…. wrong answer! What about the true hospitality spirit?

I was re-instilling a sense of belonging, hope, and enjoyment in seeing people happy because of the experiences we created! Whether we saw a family that booked a queen room that we upgraded to a double room with a view, or sent an amenity to a newly wed couple, I showed the enjoyment that can come from that. If you can find that enjoyment, it’s not bad work at all, plus the travel benefits which very few took advantage of, so I started to push them to go. “Visit your families, take a trip, 2-3 days is good, get some fresh air, use your 70% discount etc.” and the turnover for the rest of my tenure was practically non-existent.

When I went to Chengdu it was the same thing; I emphasized instilling hope, a sense of belonging and showing them what true hospitality was like. In fact most employees don’t know why they work in hotels in the first place!




In Korea, I managed an apartment building, not a hotel. They hired me because I could offer hotel level services to guests, which we did. We operated partially with AirBnB (great cash-flow) and short-term apartment rentals.

Whilst having a small staff I did have numerous hotel contacts and it was the same from what I observed and discussed with other managers. The local staff will accept being miserable, but will keep their job because another one is hard to find. But I found encouragement to be the best practice. When the staff is unhappy, they begin to think only of pay, work, and to go home. Encourage them, and they are more engaged, come with a smile, and cooperate more. I challenged my friends to get to know their staff better, challenge them to be unique, talk to them about future prospects, instill some hope!

Good olUSA!


Admittedly it’s my first time actually managing in my own country, and to add onto it, my hotel is super unionized. To the point that I actually can’t check in a guest myself, I’ll be taking away work from the front desk agents. If I check in one guest, the most senior agent is getting paid a full days salary. In fact, I’m gonna write an article for you all soon enough about the… UNION!

However the issue isn’t that, one problem is high management turnover. Most of the agents are older, having been working for 5-30 years. And every year there’s a new 20-something year old manager with new ideas and wants to change your work, life, and flow! I saw this instantly, but how I manage is by first realizing that: I’m not going to change anything.

It’s more of assisting with efficiency, solving issues, and improving/assisting with change from corporate. For example, if agents are always clicking and are a bit on the slow side, I show them some hot keys which are easy to memorize that can help them speed up; not forced just suggested, and I do put it in a nice way which they are very welcoming of.

As managers we have to solve very creatively when guests complain and that’s why the managers are younger and younger. We’re creative, unique, and have thick skin. And finally hotel corporations are always trying to improve their product, systems, and process. Most times drastic change is hard for employees, especially when they’ve done the same for 15 years. Our job is to learn it first, simplify it and train it!

Final words? My advice has always been to train and encourage not blame and force. Take care of the staff and they will take care of the guests! I hope my methods will help to inspire even more unique methods that I too am always eager to learn!

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next article!



Best Regards,
Daniel Cooper

Grand Hyatt Shanghai: First challenge, old staff new tricks!

Welcome Hoteliers.
You know how they say you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
Do they have a saying for old staff? Certainly you can teach them new tricks right? I’d soon find out.

New managers like myself are all very gung-ho. We’re gonna change everything, we got all these new ideas and we’re gonna MHGA. (make hotel great again, see what I did there? 😉 )

I thank my parents for many things. A good many things indeed, one thing my parents taught me, always pay attention to everything, your surroundings, people etc.
What I got from them is, pay attention to what you say, do, and what’s around you. So when I was spewing all these ideas of great changes to come, the staff looked at me with this look. It was a look that had a little “you crazy as hell,” a little “this guy…” and a little “bye Felicia” all mixed in it.

I quickly noticed and changed my tune.

The staff definitely saw I took a hint, and as embarrassing as it is to admit. I got a little respect from it, they see I valued their opinion; well at least we all laughed about it several months down the line.
Most of the staff were in their late 20s early 30s and had worked at Grand Hyatt for a few years. The 2nd person closet to my age at my position was 32, married with a kid. So me being 22, definitely raised some eyebrows. I had to prove myself before I could change a pen on the desk since I was definitely being watched; they wanted to see how I performed.

The GM wanted change. So I knew whatever I want to change or enhance, I had to build it and do it myself until they get curious enough to join me; it really is that simple. Not all staff, but a small amount are interested in improving themselves, which I prefer anyway. A small team of elites!


I created 2 simple VIP programs. The VIP courtesy call log, and re-introduced a program they had a longtime ago such as birthday cakes with handwritten notes. The latter was simple, it’s a guest birthday; send a cake. This is certainly a western tradition but in the east, it was not as widely celebrated, however it was becoming more popular. And it’s a nice gesture, with a hand-written card = good online review.

The former being a courtesy call log. It’s also simple, I broke it into 4 sections. VIPs, Hyatt Gold Passport (now World of Hyatt) members, short stays of 5-9 nights, and long stay of 10+ nights.
Most guests, even if you ask, don’t want to tell you their bad experiences, especially VIPs. Not to categorize guests, because all guests are important. But a normal guest paying $150 on who leaves a bad review, we can do damage control, give a little compensation and all is well in heaven and earth. A VIP, can result in loss of a contract which can effect 50 rooms nights or more, sometimes it’s the boss of the company itself who can simply move their account to a competitor. So these calls can catch a situation before it festers and becomes deal-breaking; we call that, service recovery

I would call the guest room an hour to two hours after check-in to ask about the room condition, are the facilities to their liking, do they need anything, and establish a point of contact. If they are short stay guests for 5-9 nights or long staying guests 10+ nights, we call them every 3 days to see if they need a refresh etc.

I also used my report to build preferences such as housekeeping servicing times, so the guests did not get a sudden wake up from the housekeepers, I mean how awkward is it for a housekeeper to poke their head in when you’re snoozing and get woken up. I confirm checkout time which makes it easier to flip the house (more hotel jargon, basically knowing how many departures you have, at what time, how many rooms you can get cleaned at what times, and how many rooms you can get back to plan for your arrivals and pre-assign early departure rooms to early arrival guests or VIPs etc etc etc~).
So, my report was a big deal!

After a few days of committing to my reports, some staff & interns wanted to get on board.

I suspect for language practice, many international guests from corporate accounts such as Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Deloitte, Credit Suisse had contracted nights, so they were common guests; the staff wanted to practice with them. I also suspect they wanted to sit down in the back office and call guests as such allowed them a small break from the desk and who could blame them for that. 😉

My advice is if you are starting at a new job and want to implement changes, implement them yourself and show its success to the team before you want others to join you on it thus proving your ability and not wasting anyone’s time!

Thanks for stopping by and see you in the next article.

Best Regards,

Daniel Cooper