Hotel & Hospitality
Not always hospitable
It isn't easy working in the hospitality industry--guests can be rude, the holiday rush is nightmarish and some employees work seven days a week. Hotel managers must oversee and synchronize the activities of all the different departments of a hotel, such as housekeeping, dining, recreation, security and maintenance, and make sure both their guests and employees are happy. Hotel managers are also responsible for the behind-the-scenes operations, including accounting, personnel and publicity. They often assume a financial role, overseeing the business side of things, such as budgeting and revenue management.
It takes a team
Every member of a hotel staff, from housekeeping to the hotel manager, is responsible for the seamless operation of the establishment. At smaller hotels and motels, the responsibility for overseeing rooms, food and beverage service, registration, and overall management can fall on the shoulders of a single manager.
Large hotels, such as The Plaza in New York, employ hundreds of workers, and have many different levels of managers. The general manager may be aided by a staff of assistant managers, each with his or her own department to supervise. The hotel manager sets the establishment's standards of operation (within the owners' or executives' guidelines); it is the job of the assistant managers to see that these are executed adroitly. The general manager sets room rates, allocates funds to departments, approves expenditures, and establishes standards for service that employees in housekeeping, decor, food quality, and banquet operations must offer to guests. Many hotels have resident managers, who live in the hotel and are on hand 24 hours a day for guests and staff (though they usually work a standard eight-hour day).
Because hotel managers oversee so many different departments, even the most senior general manager must have an understanding of each one. Like orchestra conductors, they bring together a group of different departments and employees to perform in harmony. The best way to learn about each part of the hotel team is through hands-on experience. Most hotel chains, such as Hilton Hotels, have leadership development programs for their managers. For example, in Hilton's Leadership-in-Training (LIT) program a trainee rotates through about a dozen different hotel departments in a six- to eight-month period. The central goal of a rotational training program like LIT is to provide trainees with an overview of an organization's operations so that they can best coordinate them.
Although in the past, most hotel managers have been hired from food and beverage, front desk, housekeeping and sales positions without formal education, employers now give hiring preference to individuals with degrees in hotel and restaurant management. Internships and part-time jobs also give a step up when it comes to getting hired for a management-track position.
Graduates of hotel or restaurant management programs usually start as trainee assistant managers or at least advance to such positions quickly. Another in is the leadership training programs, which hire recent graduates to participate. New hotels without formal on-the-job training programs often prefer experienced personnel for higher-level positions.
Most hotel managers agree that meeting "all kinds of people, from all over the world" and "the ability to make someone's day by fixing a problem" are some of the "best perks of this job." However, it's not all about mingling with the guests. Being a hotel manager means that the buck stops with you and you have to be "willing to do whatever needs to be done." Says one manager, "if someone doesn't show up for work, it is your responsibility to do the job yourself, even housekeeping or maintenance."
If you don't enjoy people, "please do not even attempt a career in this field," insiders warn. Low- to mid-level and resident managers also have to be on-call all the time. "Be prepared to work and work whatever hours necessary to make it work," says one general manager. "The hotel never closes so you could always get a phone call at any time. Being woken up at 4 a.m. for the night auditor to tell you the pool pump pipe burst is never fun," adds as assistant general manager. For those individuals who are truly cut out for the hotel business, however, it "gets in your blood." The diversity of experience in hotel management "is greater than in any other profession and the gratification can be tremendous."
Employee hotel discounts; Free or discounted meals
Long hours (holidays and weekends); Low starting pay; Rude patrons
Friendly; Outgoing; Cooperative; Diligent
Sensitive; Shy; Disorganized
Average about 45 per week
Median salary for hotel managers: $91,383
Training in hotel or restaurant management; Bachelor's or master's in hotel management or business