By Tony Rubin –

20160601_105207_resized My professional career in the hospitality and attractions industry has spanned 48 years, 8 cities and 2 countries. I have hosted international sports teams in five-star hotels and co-ordinated fossil exhibits from one of the richest paleantological sites in the world. Today, I am the general manager of the SAB World of Beer, an attraction that explores the history of beer and its role in South African society, and one that has become an essential stop on the Johannesburg tourism map.

My professional career has taught me about the many roles that a general manager involved in the tourism industry needs to assume during his or her tenure. The list below, a mere sample, is by no means exhaustive.

  1. The fellow employee:You may be the general manager of your establishment, but that makes you only one of many employees who helps to keep your establishment running. It is your responsibility to see that each of the many departments is operating effectively and efficiently, but there is no department that deserves your exclusive attention, and none that should be neglected. Likewise, there is no task too great or too small for you to oversee or undertake.

  2. The cheerleader: Although humility is important, you are also responsible for guiding, supporting and encouraging your team. Leading by example is imperative. At every turn, epitomise exceptional service and a drive for success, and encourage your team to do the same. Demonstrating respect for your team will ensure that they establish and maintain the high quality of customer service for which you would like your establishment to be known.

  3. The politican: A general manager must assume, at various times, the role of diplomat, political acrobat and – occasionally – doormat. You need to have the ability to host characters from all walks of life and to negotiate the varied demands they make. Discriminate against no one, and assert yourself only against those who threaten the integrity of your staff or the reputation of your establishment.

  4. The sportsman: You should be – in theory, if not in practice – a footballer, rugby player, cricketer, golfer, tennis player, darts player, sailor, motor racer, as well as the occasional player of a number of games involving dice, cards, horses and pool cues. Of course, it goes without saying that you are also required to be a supporter of every team. And, as the settler of all disputes, you are also the occasional referee.

  5. The all-rounder: It is your responsibility to keep the house full, the storeroom full, the customers full, while not getting full of yourself. You need to be both your establishment’s beating heart and its business-centric head. At all times, moderate your temperament and lead with honour.

What do you feel are other essential roles that a general manager ought to assume?