How we classify hotels varies based on size, location, cost, and other factors. Lodging may fall into distinct categories depending on the level of facilities, goods, and services they offer. While some architects design hotels with consumer cost in mind, others build them to provide guests with lavish, memorably opulent experiences. However, creating a luxurious hotel atmosphere is about much more than fancy décor; thoughtful luxury hotel management is essential.
In this guide, we explore what it means to be a luxury hotel and what it takes to manage one. We’ll examine how the hospitality industry classifies luxury, what luxury hotel guests expect, and how the right management style can make all the difference. From real-world tips and best practices to action plans and expert advice, we have everything you need to improve your luxury hotel management strategy.
Luxury hotel management and why it matters
What is a luxury hotel?
It can be tricky to define precisely what takes a hotel to the level of luxury. The title isn’t tied to how large the property is or how many services it provides; a majestic palace is as likely to attain the label of luxury as a small beachside resort. Being a luxury hotel is how much you have to offer and how high-quality those offerings are.
While there is no one-size-fits-all definition for what makes a hotel luxury-status, guests who pay for luxury hotel stays expect seamless service, exceptional hospitality, remarkable décor, and luxurious hotel facilities. Hotels with four or five-star ratings are frequently considered luxury for consistently providing superior service, with some recognizable brands including:
- Ritz Hotels and Resorts (e.g., Ritz Paris)
- Aman Resorts
- Rosewood Hotels and Resorts
- Aimbridge Hospitality
- Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
- Burj Al Arab
- The Oberoi Group
For more of the most fabulous, luxurious hotels, check out our guide to the world's most luxurious hotels.
How are luxury hotels different from standard hotels?
Essentially, luxury hotels offer more than traditional hotels or budget-friendly chains. While a guestroom at a large budget-conscious hotel like a Hampton by Hilton or Holiday Inn may have a mini-fridge in each guestroom (although not all do), you’d expect to see full-size appliances, if not an entire kitchen inside a luxury guestroom. At a luxury hotel, one might expect to find:
- Larger rooms
- Finer decorations
- Additional facilities (e.g., hotel spa or rooftop bar)
- Added amenities (e.g., jetted tubs and high-end toiletries)
- Full-service food and beverage (F&B)
- In-room dining
- And other upscale services (e.g., valet parking or concierge services)
Managing a luxury hotel requires maintaining all the added space, overseeing the additional services, and ensuring every guest has an exceptional, luxurious stay.
What is luxury hotel management?
Luxury hotel management entails the general management of all operations, processes, and procedures that keep a high-end property running. While individual departments may have their own leaders and responsibilities, luxury hotel management involves overseeing them all. Luxury hotel managers understand that each department and employee is critical to hotel success; each component is a cog that must operate optimally to guarantee the hotel runs smoothly, like a well-oiled machine—all while meeting luxury standards.
Hotel managers are responsible for a wide variety of duties, from maintaining high-quality accommodation and top-tier customer service to overseeing the hotel’s inventory and finances. As much as it involves managing the physical property, the main priority of any luxury hotel manager is customer service. An onsite general manager typically runs day-to-day operations at most hotels, but some properties outsource this service to hotel management companies.
How are luxury and traditional hotel management different?
Hotel guests want to get what they pay for, and frequent luxury travelers know what to expect from a top-tier hotel. If your property is marketing luxury services or charging luxury prices, it had better provide customers with value that matches the money they spent.
Ideally, at a luxury hotel, guests will receive what they want without having to ask for it, and it’s the hotel manager's job to train staff to ensure that happens as often as possible. It’s also up to them to guarantee events run smoothly, food is delivered fresh and on time, and guests are treated like royalty.
In addition to added guest expectations, most luxury hotels have specialized facilities and services (e.g., restaurants, spas, fitness classes), which enhances their already high staffing requirements. Managing a world-class hotel may require a bigger team than operating a traditional hotel. With a more extensive staff and increased demand for exceptional service, managing a luxury hotel requires strong interdepartmental cooperation and prominent leadership.
What do luxury hotel managers need to know?
Managing a luxury hotel or resort isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Whether you’re new to the gig or looking for ways to enhance your current management strategy, there are a few things every luxury hotel manager should know, like:
- Communication is critical
Communication is the most crucial skill a luxury hotel manager possesses. Whether interacting with VIP clientele, handling guest complaints, or ensuring that your team performs at its highest level, prompt, effective, and empathetic communication is vital to success.
Open numerous lines of communication with staff to ensure that critical information is promptly relayed to the appropriate party. Regularly hold team meetings, utilize employee apps, and employ luxury hotel management software for scheduling and task management. Keep track of employee communications with automated tools that assign tasks, track project development, and measure team productivity.
- The right team is essential
Task delegation is another critical component of successful luxury hotel management. Although they’re responsible for all hotel happenings at the end of the day, hotel managers should have a well-trained, dependable team they can entrust with guest care. Hire and train the right team, then empower them to take charge of the hotel and its guests.
- Micromanagement is counterproductive
The ultimate goal of any hotel manager should be to have the property operate as efficiently in their absence as it does in their presence. Giving your staff room to breathe will improve their ability to improvise and think quickly on their feet. Encourage team members to make their own choices, but remind them to ask for help when needed; this will make hotel staff more adaptable, flexible, and better equipped to meet guests' needs.
Alexander Pichel, General Manager of the luxurious Hotel Indonesia Kempinski Jakarta, offers this advice, “After training your team, empower them to act. If you are confident you have the right people in place, trust them to do the right thing at the right time… Empower them to adapt and make decisions.”
- Fostering employee advancement benefits you
If you want to get the best from your team, show them they’re appreciated. Few things are more motivating than having career development opportunities at a place you enjoy working, so invest in advancement options for dedicated employees.
Help staff members connect with industry experts in fields they are enthusiastic about, offer continued education classes, and provide other opportunities for team members to advance in the hospitality field. Boost employee retention by showing employees that you’re invested in them and their future.
Five tips for better luxury hotel management
Whether your property just opened or has been operating for decades, complacency is your enemy. Consistently look for ways to improve hotel operations and your management skills so your property stays relevant in an increasingly competitive industry. Step up your luxury hotel management strategy with these five tips.
1. Be present and available
In addition to expecting their hotel room to be comfortable, clean, and welcoming, luxury hotel guests anticipate the same from hotel staff. They expect access to supervisors and top management. Being present and available on property demonstrates management’s commitment to hotel success while showing guests you’re also committed to their comfort.
Being at the hotel enables management to step up and step in when customer service agents need assistance with displeased guests. Amit Majumder, the General Manager of Jumeirah Vittaveli, a luxury hotel in the Maldives, provided his advice on the subject in A Wealth of Insight (a book compiling lessons from hospitality experts). “Walking around and being available to listen, learn, and support is one of the most important lessons I ever learned,” Majumder contributed.
2. Take accountability and responsibility
Accountability is vital to success in hospitality, whether operating a five-star luxury resort or a low-cost extended-stay hotel. Experienced hoteliers know that even with all the planning and training in the world, things can—and inevitability will—go wrong from time to time. When they do, apologize for guest issues, show sincere concern, and look for a fast yet adequate resolution.
The hotel manager is responsible for the entire property, from employees to facilities. If an issue arises, the responsibility ultimately falls to your luxury hotel management team. Handle guest complaints with compassion and empathy. To show them you mean business, address their concerns with an action plan that illustrates your commitment to improvement and guest satisfaction.
3. Reward superior service
Train staff to manage guest requests with reasonable flexibility, as guests expect a certain level of accommodation when paying luxury prices. Teach employees not to meet guest expectations but to exceed them—often going above and beyond to provide superior customer service. Acknowledge staff who go beyond the call of duty by providing them with rewards they will actually find valuable.
Make hotel staff appreciation a core part of your managerial responsibilities. Instead of treating staff to pizza parties or inexpensive trinkets, honor standout employees with superior rewards, such as extra paid time off or tickets to popular local events. Consider implementing a bonus structure that rewards employees directly for their efforts. Tie the bonus system to individual and departmental goals, providing monetary motivation to increase staff productivity.
4. Use technology to streamline hotel processes
The less time you spend on time-consuming daily tasks, the more time you can spend interacting with guests, improving their experience at your property. Utilize hotel automation to make your life and employees’ lives easier.
Automating tedious tasks like rate loading, billing, and guest payments can optimize hotel operations, saving staff valuable time and reducing the possibility of human error. Set up automated proposal responses to help your property respond to requests for proposals (RFPs) before the competition. Get your bids for groups and events to planners before the comp set to increase your odds of capturing winning pieces of business.
5. Keep up with luxury hotel trends
Continually look at competing hotels in your market and surrounding markets. Check their websites, social media accounts, and other online resources to monitor their marketing campaigns and promotions. Automate information-gathering as much as possible by setting Google alerts, subscribing to luxury publications, and keeping an eye on trending tourism luxury tourism hashtags. Stay up-to-date on hotel marketing trends to stay ahead of the competition.
Now you know why luxury hotel management is essential to success
Managing a luxury hotel is just one half of the job; marketing your business is just as important. After all, if travelers haven’t heard of your hotel, how will they know to stop by? To help you capture the attention of more luxury-focused travelers, we’re showing you the luxury hotel ad strategies you need to know about next.