Well I understand you very well, “love & passion”! I had a similar experience within 10 years in Belize and know exactly what you're talking about and I’m never going to manage in Belize anymore; it’s too painful and if I would advertize I would do it the same way.
To me (and this is my personal opinion and feeling) it seems as if a lot of hotel owners once made some money and bought a hotel, thought that they could open the doors of this hotel and then customers would spread all over the place and would make them rich within some weeks. They have no idea of the business but run their hotel anyway. They think that they know about this business as they had stayed in many hotels and maybe have a friend who runs a hotel very successfully. But let’s be honest: If you already had some surgeries in a hospital and watched some doctors doing surgery in any TV soap; would you ever get the idea to do your own surgeries? How do people think that for that kind of business (hospitality) you would not need any education and experience?
I used to manage hotels in Belize for 10 years and within these 120 months I had only ONE good experience of 30 months! All the rest was such an unbelievable “crab”!!! Let me tell some of my Belize experience (and I’ll try to do this in some words – my bad experience would fill a whole novel!):
The first owner (on the mainland) had run his resort completely down. There were no more guests and not one dollar income. I started with an investment as there were some important things missing, made a lot of changes, created programs and trained my staff and slowly business re-started and as soon as the first dollars came in the owner made changes on his own, fired my people and hired his own people. He hired bartenders who never had seen a bar from the inside before, hired minors (as they were so cheap) and hired an alcoholic who was illegally in the country (because he was so cheap) and within 12 months re-changed his place in a real mess. I had found a wholesaler who had rented 70% of his resort for 3 nights every single week and he lost this wholesaler in my absence as the alcoholic had offended the female guests sexually and the whole group moved out the same night and the company never came back. There was nothing for me to do and I left.
My next challenge was a resort on one of the Cayes. They got their very good business down from 72% occupancy to 29% within one year and then stayed around a 30% yearly occupancy. After I took over the owner stopped me from fixing the biggest problem and up to 5 people micro-managed day by day: That was very amazing to see that my decisions had been changed several times during the day and staff was just extremely confused. But I could not fix the biggest problem: bad people skills of the owner! Talking bad about the customers day by day as soon as they turned their back and I figured out: if you hate yourself you cannot love people in the outside. I had filled a high season month 50% with a group of people from Europe and after making 50% of her income of one month at this hotel the owner screwed them up and they left and made a very bad word-to-mouth about tourism in Belize and I left: There was nothing for me to do!
I returned to the mainland and found out after some time that the next owner was not just without any clue about this business: After 1 year I also had to find out that he turned to be involved in trafficking. His new bartenders were girls who were transferred illegally across the border and had to dance naked on top of the bar whenever people paid for it. One of his rooms was reserved for politicians and business people who rented for just some hours and a lot of VIPs came to have fun with their extremely young lovers, make them swim naked in the pool and do other things that I do not want to describe here in this forum.
I moved back to one of the Cayes and had an owner who never had made a cent with his hotel. Several managers had tried to get the resort under control but failed and some of them left in the middle of the night without telling anything. In the beginning it was a very tuff thing. Most of the goods had been stolen and I found out that it had been stolen by staff members and sold to neighbors and from the moment I started to stop this theft I had been threatened and first thing I had to do was return my kids back to our home on the mainland as I had been threatened and told that something was going to happen to my family. I had to fire 80% of the staff as they had been involved into this permanent theft. The owner let me do what was necessary and supported me and stepped back and then I was able to move the place and a very bright future started for this resort till the day I had to tell to the owner that I had to leave soon: he didn’t want to go on with any new manager and decided to rather sell his place. In the end he sold 5 times more the price that he had invested into this hotel. In the end I received 3% of the sales price and moved back to the mainland...
…. where I found another resort (again in trouble and again with not a lot of business) and made an agreement with the owner and I invested into this place. Unfortunately – as soon as business picked up – the owner moved his cash into stupid projects and took every single cent out, disregarded my budget, made any marketing and sales impossible and wasted his funds for any un-necessary crab. He messed with staff and restarted to manage and turn my decisions upside down and after another 16 months it was in-acceptable for me and I left.
Last but not least I had been hired by a resort on one of the Cayes – the biggest chaos I ever saw in my life and I did everything to delete this chaos – implement programs, menus, reports, control, but the owners made most of the changes impossible. I had to keep staff members who were in-capable to do their job and even people who cheated.The hotel’s time share department permanently screwed up people with timeshare scams and a lot of lies and the owner did not allow me to make the necessary changes. The restaurant started to get a reputation but the owner’s wife permanently messed into the business and even if business in the restaurant had raised 50% within a short time they forced me to fire all additional people and get back to the staff amount they used to have before I reached. Guests and customers had been offended and cheated and if I would go into the whole story you would be shocked of what’s happening in Belize hospitality but I definitely had enough.
My experience within these 10 years is that it is always the owners who are responsible for trouble: It’s the owners and not any bad luck with a manager, with staff, with 9/11, with an economical crisis: It is always the owners and it is their errors and lacks and it is this damned way of thinking they could run a hospitality business without any education and no idea how this business runs and yes, I understand “love & passion”: If I would be looking for any management job in Belize hospitality I would (like him) exclude all these “beginners” and “selfish, silly, egoistic, clueless ….” amateurs and I understand how he tries to look for the ones who know how IMPOSSIBLE micro-managing is!
Samray tries not to be offended – well for my opinion only the ones who practice this unprofessional micro-managing could be offended – so Samray I suppose you’re not one of them!!!? And PJ you would be interested to see how many would be ready to just beg to hire "love & passion" – well I suppose there will not be one to contact “love & passion” and let me be honest; I do not really know if "love & passion" really wants to be hired again with all his Belize experience?: To try to really change the misery in a business (if you ran it into trouble) would request an honest resume of what’s going on and a look into the mirror and that’s pretty impossible for someone who carried his/her business to this point. It would request to admit: "Yes, I have no clue and yes, it was me and maybe I should hand it over to someone who has an idea, has the education, has the experience" and then support him absolutely – but that’s just an illusion: Before being so very honest with themselves people rather blame any circumstances or permanently point out their fingers to whoever could be blamed and they close every door.
SFJeff, so many hotels and resorts in Belize are doing so very, very bad and within the next few months and years we’ll see many more going bankrupt and die – yes, they should have moved back and leave it to someone who knows the business, who knows hospitality, who can turn the ship and who could save this ship from going down!
I’m just back from a consulting job in the Caribbean and I have been very amazed how different hospitality and tourism work over there. I think Belize is light-years away from this level. For my opinion the reason for the huge crisis that Belize hospitality and tourism had to discover cannot be found in the outside: It’s within Belize hospitality and tourism industry and nowhere else!
Some of the islands in the Caribbean had the best year ever in tourism in 2010. Could someone please tell me how it was in Belize? But this would be subject to a new discussion maybe in a different forum - for sure not in the employment forum!
“love & passion” I wish you very much luck!
Again another beautiful day in paradise - just smile and be happy :-)