Owls, foxes, bats… certain animals don’t only come out at night, but they thrive when the sun goes down. Humans, typically, are not amongst them. However, some roles require midnight martyrs to keep things ticking over when the sun goes down.
Step forward the night manager: the overlooked hero of hospitality.
The ability – desire even – to sleep all day and work all night, to eat dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner, has somewhat unfairly earned hotel night managers the reputation of being a slightly unusual breed. But the very best night managers are the forgotten glue that keep establishments up and running.
So what are the characteristics of a top-class night manager? Other than the ability to survive on a diet of coffee and Red Bull?
1. They’re a true jack-of-all-trades
From checking in guests to tactfully bringing parties to a close; from serving late-night drinkers to relaying the dining room for breakfast… the night manager needs to be comfortable in all parts of the hotel and able to perform multiple tasks to a high standard. They’re the Swiss army knives of hospitality employees.
2. They’re actually very social
There’s a common misconception that night managers are introverted misanthropes who choose to hide in the solitude of the night hours. However, night managers tend to have quite a lot of interaction with guests on a more individual level. Plus, whether serving drinks to residents who don’t want to go to bed, dealing with a surprising late-night issue (“Help! The TV turned itself on and won’t turn off!”) or checking in guests who’ve driven all evening, night managers tend to be dealing with tired or vulnerable guests who require that little extra attention and friendly understanding.
3. They’re extremely customer-focused
Again, the mistaken belief has it that night managers want to get on with a list of jobs safely ensconced from real, actual customers. The night manager role is actually one of the most customer-focused, and a good night manager will be keeping track of who arrived very late (and might, therefore, need a later breakfast), which early-risers have already checked out, allowing housekeepers to start cleaning their rooms early, or providing guests with the essential extra towels, toothbrushes or toiletries they may need.
4. They’re highly organised
While one part of the job is to keep the hotel running until the morning, there are usually long lists of duties that must also be completed by night managers, including full night audits, health and safety checks, night walks to check windows and doors, and of course the detailed morning handover to the duty manager. All while dealing with a leak in room 47, setting the restaurant for breakfast and accepting a delivery from a keen supplier. So complex is this part of the night manager’s job that many hotels are now turning to back-office software and tools that simplifies and automates checklists, audits and handovers to help support their night manager and ensure full compliance and no errors.
5. They’re completely trustworthy
Not only in a ‘they have access to the whole hotel, all your stock and maybe even your cash registers’ way either. Few things can put an owner or duty manager on edge like handing over to a night manager who they don’t fully trust; the thought of returning in the morning to see rpolice cars or fire engines looms large in the imagination. Not only do you need to trust your night manager knows how to do all that’s equired professionally and calmly, but remember that the night manager is the face of the hotel for between six and ten hours every day. They should take full ownership of that responsibility and be able to resolve most issues at the time, not just postpone them until the morning.
6. They’re willing tour guides
Not only should your night manager know every wardrobe, TV set and coffee machine of your establishment, they should be able to tell guests where the nearest petrol station is, where there’s a 24 hour grocery, how long it’ll take to get to the airport and what attractions to see if they have a spare morning in the area.
7. They’re actually managers
In larger hotels, the night manager is not only responsible for the continued running of the hotel but also for a range of other night time employees, from night chefs and waiters (thanks 24-hour room service!) to the front desk, bar staff and porters. If that’s the case, they’re also responsible for everything from work schedules to training, reviews and appraisals. Again, make sure your late-night virtuosos have all the tools they need to make tasks like scheduling as easy as possible. After all, your night manager is the hero who lets customers and daytime staff alike all get a good night’s sleep.
Matt is an experienced journalist-turned-marketer, with content in his blood and a particular affinity for tech, SAAS, B2B and hospitality. Originally from the north west of England but now a proud Amsterdammer, his first job was working as a kitchen porter, eventually progressing to the dizzy heights of silver service waiter and occasional barman!
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