What skills do I need to be an effective hotel catering manager?

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Answered by: Tom, An Expert in the Event Catering Category
Do you prefer to party ‘till you drop---or to plan a drop-dead party?

If the latter is your answer, then you may have what it takes to be a successful hotel catering manager. The Hospitality Industry is always looking for quality hotel catering managers and if you have what it takes, expect to be rewarded on both a personal and professional level.

Let’s see if you can measure up. Here are 5 skill-sets that are crucial to achieve success as a hotel catering manager:

Sales Proficiency

Catering sales typically provide a significant portion of revenue for a full service hotel. In fact, catering sales can be the number 2 contributor of revenue! (Exceeded only by guest room sales.) That means the pressure is on you to maximize dollars at every opportunity. Hopefully, your hotel will provide you professional sales training, if not, look elsewhere. There are books, on-line courses, catering and/or sales associations to help you learn effective sales skills.

Food and Beverage Knowledge

Hotel catering revenues are made up of food and beverage sales, function room rental and miscellaneous income (audio-visual, electrical, etc.) Food and beverage sales, however, contribute the overwhelming majority of the mix. A natural passion for quality food and a creative approach to menu composition is critical to your success.

Study the competition, see what kind of menus they have and make yours better. Meet with your chef and design menus to his strengths. Attend wine tastings, food and wine pairings, restaurants and special events at different venues-be on the constant lookout for innovative ideas to increase your knowledge. Your clients will trust and respect your knowledge as a professional hotel catering manager. Your reward will be increased sales and loyal, satisfied clients!

Attention to Detail

There is no room for a “big picture” hotel catering manager! The key to your success will be how well you manage even the smallest details. It will be up to you to find or develop a comprehensive checklist for every event you plan. Take nothing for granted. Every hotel department that is involved (kitchen, banquets, engineering, valet etc.) requires timely, concise instructions on how to make your event a success. Your clients expect you to have all of your bases covered, don’t disappoint.

Customer Service

You must put yourself in the shoes of your customer. You are familiar with the hotel staff, event space, pricing and hotel policies-your guest may not be. Answer inquiries the same day, preferably within 1 or 2 hours. Send appropriate information regarding your hotel in a timely manner. Contact your prospect and answer questions, quote prices or whatever they may need. Hopefully your prospect will book an event with you and become your customer; but your service doesn't end there.

Greet your customer on arrival and introduce them to key staff members. Depending on the complexity of the event(s), check in with them throughout their stay. Take pride in the fact that you are offering a valuable service and that you are thrilled they have selected you and your hotel.

Interpersonal Communication

As a hotel catering manager, you may be one of 50 employees or one of 5,000. Regardless of the size and scope of your hotel, you can’t provide for your customers by yourself. Your face-to-face, written and electronic communication skills will either elevate you to long term success, or prove to be your downfall.

If you already possess these 5 skill-sets or want to master them through training, the Hospitality Industry has a place for you as a professional hotel catering manager!

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