Meet The Robertson Small Hotel GM – Riaan Kruger
Government is proposing a ban on alcohol advertising, sadly this will have a negative impact on the wine industry of South Africa with many jobs to be lost as a result. Riaan Kruger manages The Robertson Small Hotel and he talks about work life, enjoy the interview…
Briefly introduce yourself, your career background before your current position…
My name is Riaan Kruger, have local and international experience in the travel industry.
Currently I am General Manager of the luxury 5-star Robertson Small Hotel, played part in the successful opening, marketing and daily operations of the hotel. Career highlights include 5 years as General Manager including three years as Marketing Director of Royal Madikwe Luxury Safari Residence – one of South Africa’s first and foremost safari villa concepts.
After my studies in Tourism and Travel Practice Management at the University of Tshwane, I completed a one year stint at Walt Disney World in Florida (USA) as part of a cultural exchange program and after that my career started in the lodge industry I was a field Guide for many years prior to moving into lodge management.
What attracted you to The Robertson Small Hotel and how long have you been on the current position?
The fact that it was a new challenge to facilitate the opening and implementation of operational policies and procedures of a boutique hotel in the countryside. I have been in the current position just over 4 years.
What have been your proud achievements since taking over your current position?
The hotel has won Best Luxury Hotel in the Countryside two consecutive years.
Give us a breakdown of the offerings at The Robertson Small Hotel?
The hotel offers a luxury country hideaway in the winelands with a fantastic cuisine offering. Restaurant on site is Reubens at The Robertson Small Hotel. We also have a Wellness Room with a selection of treatments on offer.
What daily challenges do you face with your position?
Luckily with the team I work with I know we are operating a well-oiled machine and challenges are reduced. As with any hotel one has to ensure that standards remain the same or better. With smaller establishments the greatest challenge is to find the perfect balance in managing the team and what amount of time is spent on other aspects of the business such as marketing and operations.
What is the overall staff compliment under your supervision and what percentage of that is recruited from local community?
26 staff and 22 staff members are from the local community.
Do you have an example to share where your hotel has groomed a staff member from entry position to climb the career ladder?
We have taken in members of the community where they started in the scullery and work now as a chef in the kitchen.
How does The Robertson Small Hotel recruit new staff members?
If we have suitable candidates we start in house, then local community.
How do you ensure you turn once-off hotel guests into repeat clients?
We make sure that they feel treated at home. As soon as you make people feel special through friendliness, warmth, great service and a good product you have a winning recipe with returning guests.
What marketing strategies have proven profitable for your hotel and which ones have been a waste of resources?
The best marketing service which is complimentary is word of mouth BUT in order to produce word of mouth you need bodies in bed and in order to do that people must know about you. PR is a great tool for that. Advertising is good for brand awareness but not great for return on investment on marketing.
What percentage of your budget is spent sourcing goods and services from within your locality?
At least 70%.
What inspires you to wake up each morning ready to positively contribute in your hotel?
Seeing happy guests leaving which in turns leave me with positive staff to work with.
What legacy do you aim to leave in your current position?
That my team was learning from me and that I was leading by example – The small little touches and attention to detail in any boutique establishments is what sets one apart from the rest…I would like to believe that this is the case with The Robertson Small Hotel.