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The Plaza Inn

The Relais & Chateaux is an association of the world’s most exquisite hotels in more than 55 countries. The Plaza Inn, being a member of the famous and prestigious Relais & Chateaux association of French hotels, was one of the most elegant and antique properties in Kansas. The standards of service at the Inn had been maneuvered to be top of the quality by Antoine Fluri, one of the previous co-owners of the Inn.

The Inn was amongst the “ten best new inns” in 1987 and had a star-studded loyal clientele owing to its outstanding quality of service and awar-winning gourmet restaurants. Traditionally bearing a European image of service, the owners, Andre Bertrand and Tim Boyle, were keen to maintain the same image and had hired a French couple to manage this image after Antoine discharged from the partnership in 1989. The couple, Marc and Nicole Duval, took advantage of their authority and caused many customers to become angry with the service they received.

Not only did the Duval’s not have adequate knowledge about European management etiquettes, they also exploited their position to their benefit badly. The Inn began to incur financial losses and the owners decided to replace the couple with David Bart, a native of Missouri, who had an impressible background in hotel management. David Bart, being the General Manager of the Inn, was entrusted with managing the daily affairs of the Inn and ensuring that the quality of service harmonized with that of other Relais & Chateaux member hotels and was appointed in 1990.

The Inn had been warned by the Relais & Chateaux for service quality drop arising as a result of negative customer feedbacks and had been directed to submit a plan for guest service improvement and pass the next service inspection if the Inn desired to retain the prestigious membership with the association. Discussion The Plaza Inn is situated in an excellent location in Kansas City and is able to attract a lot of business and leisure customers to its 50-room boutique-styled emporium.

However, when David Bart assumed his responsibilities, competition by a 300-room Ritz-Carlton hotel had already done a lot of damage to the occupancy rate. The ensuing national recession of 1990 saw Bart helplessly overlooking a 40% all-time low occupancy rate of the hotel. Marked by the outbreak of the Gulf War, demands had already got stagnant and David Bart went about with several staff position changes to cut down the costs as a desperate measure to stay in business.

Reducing the number of employees was the bold step that Bart took to reduce the costs as much as possible. He immediately reduced two managers and retained only one if the Food and Beverage department while scrubbing other managerial staff positions keeping a single manager for all the rest of the departments without any assistants. The PBX operator was discharged and his responsibilities transferred to the front-desk operator.

Even the front-desk office manager was eliminated placing the front-desk staff under the control of the sales manager. Due to the limited seating capacity, there could be only one front-desk officer at one time and thus the responsibilities of PBX, personal client service and activity scheduling for the other departments were all designated to the lone front office desk operator. Bart himself did not keep a secretary to conform to the organizational culture he had begun to stir.

The cost-cutting strategy that Bart adopted at that time looks justifiable owing to the Inn’s faltering position in the eyes of its customers and strong competition from the other end. Although organizational theory dictates that such a move could dampen employee motivation, Bart did not have many choices to make. With the national recession also setting in, it was important for there to be a drop in costs for the Inn to thrive on and move ahead.

By April 1990, when these changes had been implemented and the demand got picking up, the front desk found it hard to manage the demand with lots of lost revenues arising from the multiple activities that the front-desk operator had to perform; this often resulted in hang-ups from customers asking for reservations put on hold for longer periods and angry customers in the lobby waiting for the operators to get over with their calls. Bart had trimmed the organization to a very low staff quantity and this was firing back in the front-office desk department (Daft 2001).

Organizations need a minimum limit to effective functioning and Bart had essentially hit the benchmark longer back in his cost-cutting strategy. He had made the management too lean and reduced administrative assistants wherever possible. According to the Efficacy Theory, employees will thrive to achieve the goals that they have been envisioned to. However, at the Inn, the employees were overburdened with workload to an extent that it resulted in faulty service and lost revenues (Daft 2001). Understanding the position, Bart quickly assigned Ms.

Claire as the front-office desk manager who was experienced and had enough knowledge to perform the required activities as well as work three shifts as a receptionist to keep in with the Plaza’s low costs of hiring. This move was a welcoming one and complemented the organizational structure greatly. The Plaza Inn was now equipped with a direct control hierarchy in the front-desk department and thus could be expected to work more efficiently, in the light of organizational theory (Robbins and Judge 2004). Consequently Ms.

Claire was able to handle things well and the coordination between the departments began to increase significantly. Despite the national recession and strong competition from the Ritz-Carlton, the year 1991 was one of the strongest occupancy periods in the history of the Inn and Claire had been able to manage things with the mutual cooperation of the other departmental managers, who had always come to her support whenever needed (Daft 2001). Claire was able to convince Bart to have a separate operator for the PBX position who would be required to work as an extension of the front-office desk rather than independently.

It was probably understood by Bart that employees should never be overburdened with work to the extent that they are unable to manage it at all. Such actions will lower employee morals leading to lack of organizational citizenship behavior (Robbins and Judge 2004). Employees who earlier would act as organizational ambassadors will turn against it, if they are taxed to the limit. In August 1992, Claire took leave to pursue a hotel management graduate degree at an eastern university.

Bart believed that things were under control and did not fill Claire’s position bringing the front-office desk back under the sales manager’s supervision. Obviously this led to the same old problems rising again and Bart was forced to look for outsider’s too fill in Claire’s position as he felt that the existing front-office receptionists were not qualified enough. Critics arguing on Bart’s mistrust on his employees can be discharged by the fact that he had trusted Claire and given her the promotion when he saw that she had the potential skills to work in that position.

He felt that no other existing employees had the skill set to take that position and thus looked skeptically for outside applicants – the Inn paid at least $5,000 lesser for this position than other hotels and Bart was quite skeptical as to anybody actually being keen in this position. Laura Dunbar, an ex-front-desk reception, showed interest and got the job bringing in a recharged attitude and experience gained by working as a concierge at other Kansas City hotels.

Hiring and retaining employees was the greatest challenge for Laura and she often found herself working more than three shifts per week to make up for the shortage – sometimes even 30 days in a row without a day off! Organizational theory dictates that the process of hiring employees resides with the managers, however, the retention part is determined by the organizational culture and atmosphere. The work atmosphere and conditions at the Inn were not conducive to employees finding it an attractive place to work and vacated their positions as soon as they found a replacement job (Robbins and Judge 2004).

The organizational structure at the Inn was structural and job responsibilities were clearly defined for each employee. In such a situation, it was difficult for employees to show work flexibility, a characteristic of well-groomed employees in revolutionary organizations (Robbins and Judge 2004). Laura found budgetary constraints pushing her hard and although was constantly supported by the restaurant managers, there was nothing she could do about the weekends when there was only one restaurant manager on duty and even Bart was not around; not to mention a full occupancy rate.

This naturally drove up the customer dissatisfaction rate and prompted de-motivation amongst the employees. An interesting program – Manager on Duty (MOD) – had been initiated by Bart to assist the Friday and Saturday night receptionists keeping into view the high occupancy rates of these days, but had been called off during the summers owing to low occupancy rates. This program displays the organizational commitment of the employees to work towards achieving the goals and objectives of the Inn.

All the managers were part of this program and Laura felt that the program needed to be revived in mid-fall. Bart also agreed to the position of a PBX operator but remarked to Laura that she had reduced her managerial role and had become more of a receptionist working with mundane employees not willing to show flexibility, resulting in no time for Laura to work outside the front-desk. Bart was beginning to think about these problems and was relating them to Laura’s personality, skills and management expertise.

He felt that her managerial role was not clicking off and that she was unable to drive her needs into the other managers. There were several actions he contemplated and felt that the role of the front-desk manager was central to organizational success (Daft 2001). In the backdrop of the warning from the Relais & Chateaux, Bart was considering several options to turnaround the situation at the Inn. Recommendations After Antoine Fluri exited the Inn and began another restaurant, Country Club Plaza District, things had never been sweet for the owner’s of the Inn.

With Bart being able to hold the organization still for a considerably longer period of time than any other manager could have been expected to do so, the Inn turned around in terms of demand more than it could in terms of quality and efficacy. The key problem at the moment for Bart was to solve the front-desk manager’s role in the organization and to decide how Laura had to be either approached or worked upon with for a favorable turnaround in the Inn’s customer satisfaction and service quality position. The organizational architecture was too wide.

Clearly having so many managers for different tasks may have been one of the primary causes for the budget for front-office desk being so limited. However, the primary focus for the recommendations for Bart should be on the front-office desk and the managerial role that has to be either assumed by Laura or another recruited manager for the Inn being able to pass the next inspection of the Relais & Chateaux. I strongly believe that the manager’s role and duties are something that have to defined by none other than the manager themselves.

Laura has not been successful in doing so owing to her attachment with the front-office desk in ensuring that the receptionists are doing the correct tasks. However, this is not what it is required of Laura. Just like Bart has mended his terms with managers and removed the inefficient ones, it is Laura’s job to remove the inefficient operators and hire better ones. Since Laura has not been able to perform key organizational tasks, it is important that she should be moved to a different position where her skills will complement her.

Bart has to decide the case in favor of the organization and thus has to do more than just shove Laura ahead. He has to hire another person paying him more than Laura to ensure that they carry out the tasks that Laura could not (Daft 2001). Paying more to the new manager can also result in Laura’s motivation being shattered. This has to be put up by Bart with clever moves. Laura can be transported to the receptionist post designating her as the “Chief Receptionist” with one of the existing receptionists being moved to the post of the PBX operator.

While there is no set rule for the decision that Bart has to make, it is necessary for Bart to ensure at all costs that the Inn is able to make through the service quality inspection due in six months. Considering the situation presented in the case, I would highly recommend Bart to hire a trained expert in the field of front-desk management and pay them a higher compensation so that they are motivated towards managing the affairs with more involvement (Daft 2001).

It should be remembered that pay is one of the most direct factors and by far the strongest influencing factor for employee performance (Robbins and Judge 2004). I would like to emphasize upon the fact that Bart’s objectives would be to somehow pull through the Plaza from the inspection of the Relais & Chateaux. For this, it is essential that the Inn mends its front-office workings greatly. This can only be done if a new manager is hired who is trained in this department (Daft 2001).

This is because Laura’s existing management expertise has not led her to performing any exceptional tasks and she has mainly be lagging in completing her own work even though she has shown great involvement and motivation to work at the Inn. Therefore, a new manager is the key to the Inn’s success in the short-term and although it might have to bear a high costs in the short-run, the benefits will eventually pay off in the long-run. Works Cited Daft, R. L. Organization Theory and Design, 9th ed. Chicago: South-Western, 2001. Robbins, Stephen P. , and Timothy A. Judge. Organizational Behavior. New York: Pearsons, 2004.

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