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Hotel Management Done Right: 12 Questions for North Point Hospitality’s GM Bryan Cornelius

It’s no secret that great communication within a hotel is a hard feat to pull off. There’s a reason why we’ve dedicated blog posts, webinars, eBooks, videos, and other resources to help hoteliers master the art of internal communication.

So, when we see a hospitality group with mind-blowing engagement stats like an 81% Beekeeper activation rate among their employees, 77% contribution rate, and up to 80% stickiness (meaning users are returning to their employee app on a daily basis) we get pretty excited about it.

North Point Hospitality Group enjoys some serious employee engagement and a thriving company culture. So we were curious. Just what was their secret to getting so many of their employees active, enthused, and excited about coming to work each day?

Since we love to share best practices for internal communication from our customers, we sat down with one of North Point Hospitality’s General Managers, Bryan Cornelius, for an inside look at how his team uses their operational communication platform to improve internal communication in their hotel.

Here’s what he had to say.

1) What was your journey to becoming a hotel GM like?

I traveled through numerous departments while working my way up the ladder including planting my feet for several years at the Front Desk and Housekeeping departments. I did get lucky and joined a great hotel company early in my career.

They were also just beginning their growth in Savannah at the time. Those two elements provided me with the opportunity to fast track to GM at the age of 24. Hard work and long hours obviously proved beneficial; however, I was fortunate during this period of my career.

2) What qualities does a good hotel manager need to have?

Honesty and responsibility are significant qualities in a good leader. Empathy is also necessary when it comes to your employees and guests. But I would actually say that creativity is probably the single most important quality simply due to the fact that it usually can’t be taught. It just comes naturally.

3) You recently opened Homewood Suites right on the Savannah River with some great amenities like a rooftop bar. What’s the process of opening a new hotel like?

Being part of the opening team of a hotel is great exposure for anyone — regardless of what role you’re in. I’ve opened seven hotels throughout my career so far. The learning experience gained during these processes is immeasurable. It’s extremely challenging, but in the end the payoff is very rewarding.

4) Why do you think it’s important to invest in a digital communication platform for your frontline hotel employees?

That’s the main form of communication in this day and age. There’s Facebook and other sites for people to engage with others in their personal lives. On the business communications side of the spectrum, a platform like Beekeeper allows people to stay connected to their colleagues, even if they don’t work at a desk. It only makes sense to leverage the power of mobile-first communication within the workplace given today’s digitally-driven world.

5) I understand your team uses Beekeeper to share daily stats and night audit numbers. Can you elaborate a bit on how sharing these data points in a team app improves operations at North Point Hospitality?

It provides the majority of employees who typically don’t have access to this kind of data with the ability to stay informed of our daily performance stats. This helps improve our bottom line because it helps staff with cross-selling properties. If our hotel is sold out and we get a call or walk-in, the team knows if our other hotel properties have availability, which allows us to send the business to one of our sister properties.

6) How does your team use the Beekeeper chat feature, and how has this real-time messaging helped them perform their jobs better?

If we need to get a quick message to an individual or group, Beekeeper is a great tool for delivering instant communication. The chat feature also allows us to upload documents, photos, and share links making it a comprehensive tool for sharing information.

7) How do you use Beekeeper in your day-to-day operations to save time?

Generally speaking, sharing any type of information is more efficient through Beekeeper compared to other channels because it’s more accessible and immediate. On average, Beekeeper saves me 3 hours each week. The biggest timesaver functionality is probably regular posts. They’re quick, easy, and they can be scheduled in advance and set to auto post any time in the future.

For example: Instead of having to remember to post team members’ birthdays on their actual birthday, we can do it all at once at the beginning of each month by making scheduled posts for anyone who’s celebrating a birthday that month. This saves time and helps streamline our hotel operations.

8) How does sharing positive guest feedback on Beekeeper motivate your team?

It produces engagement that otherwise wouldn’t happen. You can’t “like” or comment on a guest review that’s posted on the break room wall. However, when we share reviews on Beekeeper, it enables our team to interact with each other spreading positive reinforcement which in turn increases morale.

9) What Beekeeper features do you find most useful from a management perspective?

The ability to view all North Point Hospitality hotels’ streams. This feature allows management to see all posts/updates throughout our company. This results in ideas being shared company-wide and increased engagement among NPH employees even though they don’t directly work at that property.

Example: John Smith is recognized on Beekeeper as the employee of the month at one of our hotels in Nashville. Mary Jones, who works at our Lumberton hotel (who has never met John), congratulates him for his accomplishment. Prior to us having Beekeeper, this wasn’t possible.

10) How does Beekeeper help your team deliver a better guest experience?

There are many ways that Beekeeper helps improve the guest experience, but one that stands out is that our team is more excited about delivering joyful interactions.

For example, the other day, a guest was dancing to the music in our lobby. Within seconds, our Front Desk Manager was right along side that guest dancing while another associate was recording the fun!

Shortly after (and with the permission of the guest) the video was posted on Beekeeper for everyone to enjoy.

We like to create fun experiences for not just our guests, but also our employees.

Beekeeper has helped us cultivate employee engagement by giving us a tool to share exciting moments with our entire team (and company). Before Beekeeper, only employees who were physically present would have been able to participate in those moments.

11) What advice would you give to other hotel managers looking to improve hotel operations?

Be a difference-maker. Do unusual things. There are countless examples of this that range from added experiences you provide guests, down to the way you take care of your employees. Cultivating your own unique approach to operations will set you apart from your competitors. Just because something is working, doesn’t mean it can’t be revamped or even updated entirely.

12) What advice would you give to someone hoping to break into the hospitality management industry?

Work hard and learn as much as you can. While having a higher education is certainly favorable, it isn’t going to teach you some of the essentials such as effectively managing people, problem solving, and decision-making capabilities. To really master these soft skills, you’ll need hands-on experience.

There you have it folks! Practical, no-nonsense tips on how to improve employee engagement for hotel employees, and master the art of hotel management from a true pro.

The fun doesn’t have to stop here. Download our white paper, “How to Improve Internal Communication in Your Hotel” for even more great hotel management tips!