6 ways running a hotel is like Game of Thrones

(Game of Hotels)

Do you ever sit down in front of your TV on a Sunday night and feel a certain sympathy for the Starks, the Lannisters and all their violent escapades? You're not alone. The hotel industry and the Five Kingdoms seem to have a lot in common For example...

6. You have to put up with a lot of craziness.
Whether it's an overly entitled guest, a manager who hasn't changed his style in 40 years (and doesn’t believe that he should) or one of the suppliers demanding to be paid under the table, the madness can run pretty rampant. And much like the courtiers of King's Landing who have to put up with Joffrey’s insanity, sometimes you have to grin and bear it until the guest leaves, the supervisor retires and the supplier contract ends. It’s only for now, and every challenge teaches you something new that will make you a better hotelier.

5. Weddings are always chaotic.
And then there are the weddings. They’re always a headache, with friendships ending, people screaming and a lot of wine being spilled. Hey, count yourself lucky: You get to charge for any damage caused, and no one actually loses a head. (Remember, a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair.) And if you have to put up with some bridezillas, just remember that every happy guest might consider your hotel for the next lucrative event. Every person in the room is a potential customer. Show them how well you step up to a challenge and you may book a new big sale.

4. It can be hard to know who to trust…
One guest might suggest that you need to freshen up the decor. Another might say that she loves how retro everything is. So should you renovate or hold on to what's classic? Should you listen to this new supplier who claims that his product has the best ROI in its class? Relationships are everything in this industry, and trust has to be earned. Fortunately, while a hotelier is pretty unlikely to end up like Ned Stark (or Sansa Stark, or Catelyn Stark, or Robb… you know, just avoid being like the Starks altogether), trusting an untrustworthy person can do some serious damage. Remember, Arya Stark only trusted Jaqen H'ghar after he helped her several times over. Be like Arya. 

3. ...But alliances are vital.
Nobody can do it all alone. Just as the Great Houses on the show support one another—and each has lots of smaller Houses to offer support—a hotelier needs plenty of support from suppliers, from the parent company, from other nearby hotels in the portfolio and from local businesses. (For example, if your hotel is somewhat suburban, see if a local taxi company or Uber drivers will offer special rates for your guests.) Take an active role in reaching out to others, and hold on to the relationships that help you out the most. You never know which friend will wind up saving the day—whether you’re in a bear pit or an awkward dinner. 

2. You need lots of “little birds.”
In the show, Varys keeps his head on his shoulders through a network of spies he calls his “little birds.” A hotelier needs birds, too, in order to know what guests are saying among themselves—and to others. Ask the bartenders in the hotel pub if they’ve heard any comments. Ask the housekeepers to tell you if any guest could use a little something extra—someone on a stressful business trip might appreciate a bowl of fruit, for example, and they’ll be much happier to receive it without having to ask. One GM regularly invited local taxi drivers in for coffee to find out what guests were saying about the property on the way to the airport. What guests say to your face is one thing. What they say to the next guest—or in a public online review—is another. 

1. The dragons. 
So many dragons. There's the “I want an upgrade!” dragon, the “I paid for a suite so everything else should be free” dragon, the “What do you mean the continental breakfast doesn’t include gluten-free bread?!” dragon, the “I’m going to burn this place down with my breath” dragon (you don’t see too many of them, but they’re around)…Look, they’re as much a part of the business as backstabbing is in the Five Kingdoms, but you can make them work to your benefit. Show them that you care about their concerns, and that even if you can’t meet their (often ridiculous) demands, you’re at least making an effort. If they’re reasonable, they’ll understand, and they’ll acknowledge your concern in a review. If not—hey, sometimes it’s better to lose a bad guest than to lose your mind catering to their whims. You can always offer a level-headed response to any negative buzz they try to post on TripAdvisor—and staying cool in a flame war will make you look all the more capable as a leader.