Extended Stay America Preps GMs for Challenges

One of the most important aspects of running a hotel operation of any size is ensuring that employees receive the training to perform their jobs properly. Extended Stay America has championed a new program aimed at preparing its general managers for all the expectations and challenges that come with the position.

Having formally launched its general managers certification program, ESA has developed a three-tiered learning program that aims to ensure its general managers are prepared for whatever comes their way while on the job.

“We want to make sure that there’s a resounding positive feeling with a general manager who starts with our company,” says ESA COO Tom Bardenett. Instead of jumping in head first, new GMs are slowly introduced to all of the aspects of their position.


A general manager enrolled in ESA’s program spends their first few days with their direct supervisor, a district manager. From there, they spend two weeks training at one of ESA’s training hotels specific to their general manager-training program. This enables trainees to learn the ropes of the job before they even step foot into their own hotel. The last segment of their training is an online learning component provided by Orgwide. The activity-based e-learning aspect provides “how-to” task training.

“If you look at our operating model, we have about 10 to 14 associates at each of our hotels. So the person who’s in charge and the person who is the face and personality of that hotel is our general manager,” Bardenett explains. “We believe that by having that individual trained and ready to be able to provide a positive work environment and a great satisfaction platform, it allows us to make sure that we’re providing an opportunity for people to experience our brand in a very positive way.”

The general manager at an ESA hotel has a very important role to fill. The average guest stay at an Extended Stay America property can be anywhere from a week to a month, with many guests making repeat visits. GMs and associates get to know their guests on a personal level, so it is important that general managers feel comfortable and confident about their ability to do their job. “We really get to partner with our guests and provide an experience that they are going to feel connected to, so it’s really great to have our general managers feel confident that they can provide that kind of environment that our guests are seeking, as well as our associates,” says Bardenett.

Feedback on the program has been very positive; this year’s participants greatly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with fellow GMs and members of different departments before fully immersing themselves in the role of GM. In the future, the program plans to expand to include similar opportunities for department managers and district managers.