Top 5 Perspectives: Sascha Voth, General Manager
Say hello to Sascha Voth, General Manager at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre and The Westin Wall Centre, Vancouver Airport.
Sascha is sharing his perspective from the front line.
- What is the one thing you would like us to know about your role as General Manager? It’s my job to support my team … I stay out of the way and thank the team after it goes well. I am always available to guests and clients … but sports, politics and Hollywood gossip are the things that you should call me about … for everything else please call my phenomenal team!
- What part of your role impacts a client’s satisfaction most? Team building – when I do my job properly the client should never have to engage with the General Manager. I assemble the right group of people, provide them with the right equipment and the right playbook. I empower them to make decisions and let them do their jobs. If I have successfully built a group of highly motivated and intelligent individuals, then client satisfaction just happens.
- What current trends or market conditions from your perspective impact your business?
- Shortened booking windows for group business makes budgeting, forecasting, and staffing more difficult.
- Reduced spends in meeting spaces by groups across the board.
- Current interest in Vancouver as a summer vacation destination changed our high season traveler mix to a higher proportion of large families travelling
together, which has transformed the demands on our property.
- The merger of the Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Rewards programs increased the number of Platinum guests staying at our property and driven use of our newly-renovated club lounge.
- How is the current economy affecting your business? We are lucky to be operating in a very busy market with high-demand driving high-occupancy. To accommodate growth, we are adding numerous positions to our team. This year alone our associate count is up 20 per cent. However, this phenomenal growth coupled with a skyrocketing cost of living in Vancouver makes filling these positions very difficult. This summer we had 30 positions go unfilled, which forces us to stretch our hardworking teams and this leads to fatigue and mistakes.
- What trends do you see in the next 18 months? On November 7, Marriott launched mobile check-in through the SPG app. This created an entirely new way for our guests to interact with the hotel. So far, use is low but growing quickly. As awareness grows and the functionality of the app becomes more convenient we anticipate larger numbers of guests will use this check-in method. This will have major changes in how we manage our business. Not only will we need to ensure that safety and security are maintained but how we interact with our guests will be completely different.The guest’s first interaction with the property will no longer be a welcoming Front Desk Agent who initiates a connection and manages questions and concerns. Instead, guests will access and use the property without that first personal connection. We need to adjust our service model to manufacture guest interactions through other channels. Increasingly, guests engage with us via text which changes their service expectations. As a less personal intermediary, guests are more likely to express their true feelings, and this raises the stakes for service level expectations. For example, on many food delivery websites you can follow along with the progress of your food as the order is received, the ingredients assembled and the food is cooked. You can follow as it is picked up by the delivery person, and even watch along the route that person takes. This means that our guests will expect the same level of status updates and speed of service. We may physically check fewer people in, but we will have more people responding to and fulfilling requests.