What kind of experience do you need to work in hotel management?
Becoming a hotel manager means having the experience and education necessary to oversee the entire operation of a property and all its functions… everything from guest satisfaction to budgets and training. At a large hotel there are multiple management positions such as revenue manager, front-office manager, convention services manager, etc. and each of these would report to a general manager. Regardless of which type of manager you are, hotel managers must meet specific qualifications in education, experience and skills.
Education: Typically, larger or full-service hotels require a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or hotel management. Smaller hotels may hire those with an associate’s degree or a certificate in hotel management. According to an article by Jennifer Alyson of the Houston Chronical, “Though more than 500 U.S. schools offer training in hotel management, only 100 curricula are qualified through the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration.”
These programs usually cover courses in administration, accounting, economics, electronic reservation systems, marketing, housekeeping, food and beverage management and maintenance. If you’re interested in becoming a district or general manager, you may want to further your education by earning your master’s degree in hospitality management.
Recently, some of the larger hotel chains have started to require managers to become “certified,” especially for the general manager position. The American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute offers several certifications for those working in hospitality, including the Certified Hotel Administrator certification, which is awarded to those passing an exam. Once every five years after that, candidates must recertify.
Experience: Because of the breadth of responsibility in this position, most hotel management jobs require at least 2 years of experience. New graduates starting out on the front desk, for example, can expect to be promoted to chief clerk and then assistant front office manager. From there, you would likely move on to front office manager, sales/marketing manager and finally, general manager. Of course, you’ll receive training along with your hands-on experience, but most management-training programs are reserved for those with college degrees who show leadership potential.
Management trainees are expected to spend 1 -2 years in a variety of operational roles such as food and beverage management, covering restaurants, bars, room service, conference and banquets services. Another area is rooms management covering reception, reservations, guest relations, concierge desk and housekeeping.
Some of the larger chains have mentoring schemes and regularly assess your training and development. It may include moving to a larger hotel in a different part of the country or even going abroad for more experience.
Skills: Along with experience, the specific skills necessary to be successful in the management position are:
- People Skills – you must be able to understand and satisfy customers and employees
- Problem Solving – show good judgement to handle problems and find solutions
- Leadership – being able to motivate and guide staff
- Organization – necessary to be able to juggle, budgets, scheduling, HR and staff needs
- Business Knowledge – you will be responsible for accounting, computer systems, administration and sales
- Languages –may be an advantage, especially for hotels which are part of an international chain
Duties and Responsibilities: The typical duties of a hotel general manager cover all the operations of the property, including facilities, guest services, setting and enforcing company policies, accounting, staffing, front office, setting room rates/fees, food and beverage, housekeeping and handling complaints. You must have a strict attention to detail and be an excellent communicator, as well as having earned the education and experience required. Overall, your goal is to maximize profits and grow the company’s revenues and reputation.
In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations, you’ll also have to ensure safety and security, compliance with laws and statutes as well as handle renovations and furnishings. It’s certainly more than a 40-hour/week job and will entail working weekends, evenings and holidays.
A quick look at some of the hotel manager job postings on HCareers gives you a roundup of some of the most common requirements for this position:
- Perform administrative duties including writing reports, communicating with corporate office, employees, guests, community associations, etc.
- Develop and supervise the budget, create reports of occupancy, revenue, etc.
- Make adjustments and implement changes to maximize profits
- Interview, hire and supervise department managers
- Perform performance evaluations, handle discipline and terminations
- Promote hotel and maintain positive image of the company in community
- Travel as needed for meetings, sales and committees
- Follow all company policies and coordinate with HR
- Facilitate training and development of all trainees to hotel standards
The position of hotel manager is competitive: candidates with the proper education, skills and experience can expect to be successful. Hotel managers are expected to demonstrate a strong attention to detail, business savvy and great communication skills along with several years of experience.