Duties, education requirements, and salary information for a Hotel General Manager position
As guests of hotels, motels and other lodgings enjoy R&R, it’s the work of the hotel manager to ensure such visits run smoothly and favorably, making sure employees do all they can to ensure a visitor’s stay is enjoyable. At the same time, it’s the GM’s job to ensure that a property is running efficiently and turning a profit.
As resident manager of Marriott Marquis Houston, Dennis Doherty says, "Our first core principle is to take great care of people, and this is at the center of every action we take," he says. Day-to-day, Doherty is responsible for all the rooms and related areas of the hotel, including front desk, housekeeping, loss prevention and spa and recreation, which amounts to overseeing roughly 150 people.
Staying connected and engaged is mission-critical to success as a GM.
"You can often find me walking the hotel and engaging with our guests and hosts one-on-one," says Doherty. "These conversations create the understanding of what we are doing that is working well and where we still have opportunities."
At Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant’s Seafire Resort & Spa, in Grand Cayman, the newly launched, 266-room, boutique hotel required general manager Steven André focuses on recruiting, staffing, sales generation, processes and procedures, connecting with corporate clientele and finding vendors for water sports, cars, and transport – all in advance of the hotel’s opening last November.
"All of those things need to be bid out and contracted," he says.
Assembling his current staff of 387 people outside of the states has been challenging, says André.
"Scouting talent and getting them settled, handling immigration issues – it’s a whole different process of hiring here," he says.
And if your hotel is also seen as a culinary destination, as general manager, you must pay added attention to this revenue-generating domain.
Required experience & training
To work as a lodging manager at most large, full-service hotels, it’s necessary to have both a high school diploma and several years of hotel experience under your belt, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ web site. Hotels that provide fewer services generally accept applicants who have an associates’ degree or a certificate in hotel management or operations, according to the site.
Many community colleges, technical institutes, vocational schools and junior colleges offer certificate or degree programs in hotel, restaurant and hospitality management. The Lodging Management Program, created by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association is a two-year program offered to high school juniors and seniors at over 450 high schools in the U.S., according to the site. It teaches management principles and leads to a Certified Rooms Division Specialist certification, which can be applied as credit towards a post-secondary degree in hotel management.
For aspiring hotel managers, it may be advantageous to attain hotel-specific degrees, says Carol Watson, who was recently appointed general manager of the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
"Many of the core courses focus on business, but the value is in the internship experiences. Engulf yourself in the field to learn what it means to be successful before graduation. You can go a lot of different ways within the industry," says Watson, who graduated from the Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management and interned at a convention and visitors bureau, and a sports venue for exposure.
Since hotels operate 24/7, evening and weekend work is not uncommon. Most lodging managers work full time and are often on call.
"There’s tremendous demand on people here – like the hours and ensuring that guests have a great stay. We give good feedback and do one or two lineups a day – thanking people," says André.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May, 2015, the median annual wage for lodging managers was $49,720. In 2007, according to Salary.com, the highest 10 percent of hotel managers earned more than $82,510. The site also says that according to the BLS, hotel managers can earn bonuses of up to 25 percent of their salary, and receive perks including meals, parking, and laundry.
For those with the stamina and ambition to rise-up through the ranks, the remuneration can be great.
"The larger the property, the more complex it is. A GM at a luxury property (like Kimpton’s) is in the top income bracket for that kind of position. You can grow it in to more of a regional position, which means additional income potential. If you can succeed in the most complicated, toughest market – this goes a long way to making sure you’re recognized financially and to make it a great career for you," says André.
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