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AlumniHow to open a new hotel in the midst of a pandemic: 3 lessons learned

Viktor Getov graduated with honors in 2014 from HIM Hotel Institute Montreux and Northwood University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Hospitality Management. He is now the Front of House Manager at the Grand Hotel Millennium in Sofia (Bulgaria), which opened in 2020. He shares three lessons he learned about opening a hotel during a global pandemic

1. Create synergy between teams 

It was a dream come true for me to be part of the core team involved in the opening of what, in my opinion, is the greatest hotel ever built in Sofia. I joined after the vision for the project and the business model had already been defined. Then started the tough process of bringing the right people in and helping them believe in this complex project. The striking 30-story building includes bright, spacious and gracefully furnished 400 rooms, a full array of services and modern, five-star facilities. 

 

   
Viktor Getov as a student

 

The biggest challenge from day one was creating synergy between all the different teams involved, communicating clearly and consistently, and unifying everyone’s efforts to reach the desired outcomes. We put in place a hiring strategy and gradually started training our teams. We invested a lot of time in setting standard processes from the very start. My team is my inspiration, and I love showing them different ways to delight guests and to pay attention to details at all times.

 

2. Adapt to the unexpected and go back to the basics

We didn’t pay attention to the pandemic at first, as it seemed to be happening far away from us. The Bulgarian government announced the lockdown less than a month before we had initially planned to open. From that moment onwards, we had to make several tough decisions about where to concentrate our efforts and resources, in what was an unprecedented situation. No one was fully prepared or knew what to do.

My main take away from these months of hesitation and uncertainty was that you need to adapt your mindset and go back to the basics. Revise your product, run a SWOT analysis, sometimes even a few times a week, learn how to make decisions quickly, think outside the box, and learn to process a lot of information in a short period of time. I love challenging situations and finding solutions for them.

 

Viktor Getov doing his job

3. People-centred service

The worst part about the current situation is the uncertainty about the future of the industry. All markets have suffered from the lack of travelling and unfortunately, the first reaction is to limit costs by laying off staff. 

Hosting guests will never be the same: we have to adapt to new technologies, such as contactless services and hybrid virtual environments. 

All that being said, I believe and will always believe in human interactions. They remain the primary reason people go to hotels: to be looked after and feel valued as a client through polite and genuine service. Guests are my priority and I always seek their feedback in my role as Front of House manager. I make sure processes are followed in the most efficient way and that they result in happy and satisfied guests.

 

Viktor Getov on Magazine Cover

 

I am convinced that the pandemic will lead to new ways of entertaining and interacting with guests. The purpose of some facilities might have to change: the Grand Hotel Millennium, for example, is now offering rooms for remote work. We have to be ready to respond quicker than ever. However, we should always cultivate that personal touch and the magic of getting to know each guest as a way of providing service.

 

Find more about our Bachelor of Business Administration in Hospitality Management

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