Don’t let Fawlty Towers put you off! Managing a hotel is not a constant struggle against inept staff and demanding guests, who will turn you into an incredibly angry, frustrated and aggressive proprietor for the rest of your professional life. Sure, a career as a hotel manager is not without its challenges, but it can also be an incredibly satisfying career path to pursue.
No prizes for guessing what hotel managers do. Yep, that’s right; hotel managers are responsible for managing hotels! The scope of your responsibilities, however, will depend on the size and type of the hotel you work for. Generally though, hotel managers have the overall responsibility for ensuring the profitable, problem-free and uninterrupted operations of the hotels under their command.
Hotel managers typically take on a wide range of responsibilities, covering everything from human resources, sales, business development and customer service to accounting, financial administration, food and beverage preparation, housekeeping and general maintenance.
In large hotels, each of the above functions is usually handled by individual managers, with a general or resident manager who is in charge of overall management. Managers in smaller hotels usually handle most of the core functions and departments with the help of junior staff.
Understandably, hotel managers have a certain amount of seniority and thus focus their efforts on high-level strategic decision-making, staff training and the management of junior personnel. Furthermore, hotel managers are ultimately responsible for making sure that all hotel operations comply with hygiene, health and safety regulations.
Salary & benefits
Entry-level employees who are training to become managers tend to earn around £14,000 to £20,000 per annum, while new recruits with prior experience can earn somewhere between £15,000 and £25,000.
Annual salaries for experienced hotel managers range between £25,000 and £120,000, depending on the location, type and size of the establishment.
Higher-end salaries are common for managers employed by large, national and international chains, such as Hilton Hotels and Marriot Hotels.
Many hotel managers also receive attractive perks on top of their basic salary, such as free meals and heavy discounts on accommodation in other hotel locations.
Working hours are usually long and irregular, with no distinction being made between weekdays and the weekend or public holidays.
Hotels are run on a 24/7 basis and a hotel manager is usually required to be present at all times. However, incentives such as live-in accommodation are common to make up for the long hours that are required.
The basic requirements for entry onto structured graduate programmes, which are offered by large hotel chains, tend to be an undergraduate degree in any discipline. However, studying a subject relating to hotel management, hospitality services, business management, travel or tourism will boost your chances of being accepted onto one of these competitive management training schemes.
Previous work experience in any customer-facing role (so not necessarily in a hotel setting) can be advantageous for securing employment.
Other desirable skills include: excellent communication skills, problem resolution and a flair for languages, with fluency in at least one language apart from English.
You don’t necessarily need a degree or HND to become a hotel manager. You can feasibly work your way up the career ladder from an entry-level customer service role. However, this process will understandably take considerably longer.
Training & progression
Structured graduate development programmes are conducted over a period of one or two years, depending on the organisation. These programmes typically involve working on a series of planned rotations throughout various hotel departments, such as front office, sales and marketing, housekeeping, food and beverages, room service, utilities and maintenance.
In hotels where a structured programme is not provided, training is provided whilst on the job under the supervision of senior staff.
Movement across different hotel functions and locations is common to facilitate upward career progression. Future career prospects are determined by individual performance, achievement of yearly targets, overall experience, willingness to relocate and the size of the employing hotel’s operations.
Promotion into a general manager role or another senior position can take around five or six years for people on fast track management training schemes.
Self-employment is also an alternative option for experienced hotel managers. Many people choose to start their own independent hotels, which are often located in semi-rural or rural areas that are also popular tourist destinations.
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