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A day in the life of a Lodge Manager

Everyday can be different, you never know what challenges you are going to face so although its good to have structure to your day and plan ahead, if something requires your immediate attention then you have to focus on that and learn to prioritise your day.

My day starts with checking emails and reminding myself of the incoming new arrivals for the day, then most lodges will have a morning meeting, this is one of the most important parts of the day as we go through all guest details, details of what needs to happen around the lodge and in general the plan for the day. If you get a detail wrong, then you will pay for it later in the day, so this daily routine is very important. Morning meetings may be with just the Heads of department or for smaller operations all of the staff on duty may attend. This is always done before guests return from game drive.

Its also a nice way to greet each other good morning as some days can be so hectic that you may not see some of the staff as they get on with their daily duties so its good to check in with everyone and say hello!

We have a staff what’s app group so as things change during the course of the day, we can update each other and communication is vital for operations to run smoothly. (Some lodges that may be more rustic wont even have internet so I know its a luxury) Some Lodges may have a board where updates and notices are put up so that all the staff know what is happening.

Normally lodges work with systems and everyone knows what they need to do, each department will manage their staff and what needs to be done. As a Manager you are there to oversee all aspects and give input so after the meeting I will then check on the guest areas, its nice as we have a bit of time before the guests arrive back from game drive so if there is something that needs to be done then in general we try to get this sorted before guests get back from drive.

We are in radio contact with our guides so we also get a warning before they return with the guests, then I greet them and find out how their morning was and answer any questions they may have. Guests like to see the Manager around so its important to make time to see the guests at least once a day.

I will also say goodbye to any guest who are departing the lodge and ask them if they enjoyed their stay. Lasting impressions are just as important as first impressions and this is also the time when you may get any vital feedback.

There is a lot of admin related to managing a lodge so much of my day is spent answering agents from reservations, agents or guests. HR is also a big aspect and there is always something staff related to arrange or prepare and it can feel like you will never get ‘on top’ of paperwork so its very important as a Manager that you know how to best manage your time. As most Lodge Manager live on site you are always on call and will be expected to work ‘after hours’

On occasion there may be complaints from guests and then this needs to be sorted out right away, every situation is different and you can’t always predict how to handle different issues but you have to remember the golden rule of hospitality that states ‘the guest is always right’ and try your best to make them happy. This is a very important aspect as a guest will only be interested in speaking with ‘Management’ if there is a serious problem.

At the same time in a big team of staff there may be staff concerns which need to be addressed as quickly as possible to try to keep everyone as happy, an unhappy team will show and will impact the guest experience as well as everyone needs to have a smile in front of guests.

As lodges are in wildlife areas there will also be many wild animals in and around the lodge which in general is fine but on occasion, they also challenge us, for example many lodges have a resident troop of monkeys who may try and steal food, so you have to constantly keep an eye on them.

Guest and staff safety is always the most important aspect and you need to constantly make sure safety ‘rules’ are followed specially related to wild animals as they are definitely a part of the job that you can’t control. As a Manager its important safety is also a priority and that any staff or even guests who don’t obey safety regulations are advised the reasons why these are in place and that these are strictly adhered to.

Sometimes things will happen, and you need to re-look at your existing policies and change these as needed but if its related to health and safety then this has to be addressed right away.

In my 20 years of being in hospitality I’ve seen it all! and have many stories to tell, recently we had a fire in the lodge and without the team of staff we have we would have struggled to put this out and it could have been much worse, everyone pulled together in an amazing way and the guests were looked after and not affected in anyway. Its important to always be confident that you can make a plan even in unforeseen circumstances.

As a manager long as you are a calm but confident individual with an amazing team of staff behind you then you will have success and it is a rewarding job full of surprises and things to keep you on your toes, as a manager you will at least never be board!

As well as appreciating the people around you, its important to appreciate the wildlife too!