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The Klopp Effect – Why Hotel Managers and Football Managers Aren’t So Different

14 June 2016


Some of you may know that I am a big Football fan (Soccer for the Americans out there). My team, Liverpool F.C., is a team that I have supported passionately since I was born. Why Liverpool you may ask? Well, my mother has supported them since a young age, and I inherited them as my team of choice (I don’t regret that for a second!)

Liverpool F.C (for those who don’t know) has been a team that was massively successful from the mid-sixties until the late 80s. Since then, there have been a few great seasons with some amazing highs (Winning the Champions League in Istanbul in 2005 the best, and I was there) but equally the team has seen some lows and failed to deliver on many occasions.

In 2010, the club was bought by the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), the owners of the Boston Red Sox amongst other sporting teams, with a pedigree for success. The guys who invested in “Moneyball” and redeveloped Fenway Park came to LFC with an idea for success. They employed a young, relatively inexperienced manager (Brendan Rodgers) whose teams played an exciting brand of football. The approach looked like it was working, with the team going close to winning the league in the 13/14 season. Then things started to go wrong for Brendan ; bad players brought in through the “Moneyball” concept, fallings out with some of the senior players, losing a key player like Luis Suarez to Barcelona, and losing the momentum of the previous season. By October 2015, the wheels had fallen off; with the team losing regularly and the fans & players losing faith in Brendan’s ability. From a business point of view, Liverpool were not selling out every home game and the brand of football being played was poor.

After weeks of speculation, Brendan was removed and after just a week of waiting, Jurgen Klopp was installed as the new Liverpool F.C. manager. After a difficult start, Liverpool started playing some amazingly exciting football. Same players etc. but a completely different atmosphere. The team started playing with confidence, and the fans started flooding back to Anfield. The team looked like a team, and the fans started singing before, during & after a game and the atmosphere was electric. The season didn’t go 100% in the right direction with the team only finishing 7th in the league, but the team did reach two finals, both of which were lost (I was at both and it was a little painful). Jurgen is a little crazy but he has a definite style. Stubble and thick glasses and with a personality that makes you smile. He also loves a hug and really seems to take his team under his wing and give them a hug when they need it most!

Klopp Hug

” A hug when it is needed most! ” Picture Courtesy of


So you have received a background to the football. So why do I think this matches the trials and tribulations of a Hotel Manager.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, both managers have to manage a team successfully. Having been both a Hotel Manager and managed football teams (just at University), the importance of getting the best out of the group of people you are leading is essential. Managers have different styles; quiet, arrogant, aggressive, “one of the team”. Some of their styles allow them to run the team effectively in the short term, and some create a legacy that allows team members to change but the success to remain. This is so true for Hotel Managers as well as Football Managers.

Being lucky enough to work with a number of hotels these days, I can tell the vibe of the staff when I walk into the building. I have worked with hotels where the managers really have the team in a positive mindset, and also have worked with and stayed in hotels where the managers have definitely lost the team. The success of a team is more than just the happiness of the players or the front of house team, but all the teams behind the scenes. For every revenue manager in a hotel, there is a performance analyst on a Football Manager’s staff. For every Hotel Chef,  there is a Team Dietitian. Keeping all departments working together effectively, and with great communication is equally important in a football club as a hotel.  Having a team working together well for both a football team and a hotel, translates into the one thing that is most important for both, i.e., the happiness of the customers (or fans!).

A happy team means happy customers and this is why both Hotel Managers and Football Managers have to focus on getting that balance right. If you are a Football Manager, you have pressure from the owners or investors in a club to keep fans happy. Happy fans equals a full stadium, and a full stadium means more revenue. The occupancy of a stadium and hotel is very similar. Like a hotel has rooms, a seat at a stadium for a particular match can only be sold once. Once the match is gone, you can’t sell that seat, and when the day passes at a hotel , if that manager has not ensured all the rooms are sold, then that results in revenue lost. An understanding of what the crowd or the customer expects, and delivering that is very important. Whether it be a certain style, or managing the expectations, the consumer relationship side of the two roles are vital in ensuring the success of the respective businesses.

Finally, it is managing the selection of the right personnel to make sure that the new team members fit into the team, and make the team stronger. The development of younger team members is also vital to the long term success of both a hotel and a football club. In hotels in particular, I am a big believer in the development of younger team members, and this is something that a lot of professional football teams are terrible at. Going back to Jurgen Klopp and identifying with the makeup of LFC, it is something he has embraced and it has led to him granting the responsibility of playing in big games to some of the teams younger players. I have also seen some hotels we work with develop young team members into leaders who contribute to the success of the hotel and ensure customers have a memorable stay and experience.

In conclusion, I hope you can see that there are loads of similarities between Hotel and Football Managers (apart from the pay sadly!). The management of staff/players, investors/owners, customers (fans) and making sure the business is successful, is all on the plate of the manager. Success for managers can be delivered in different styles and require different skill sets depending on the club or the style of hotel. Most importantly, the success of the whole package, is dependent on the manager’s skills of creating and developing a team in a way that leads to consistent performance and a positive legacy to create a successful entity. I am hoping that Jurgen Klopp can continue the positive vibes that he has already created and can bring success back to my beloved LFC.

The Kop Klopp Effect

“The Changing Atmosphere at LFC” Taken by myself at LFC vs Dormund

I am hoping the Hotel Managers reading this will resonate with this a bit, and if you are that way inclined, find your style (don a pair of Jurgen glasses if needs be!) and make that team your own. One of the greatest managers of all time , Bill Shankly said to his players “Believe you are the best, and then make sure you are”. Spread that confidence to your team and watch the fans grow and keep your hotel full and successful !

Header image courtesy of

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