A hotel manager oversees all of a hotel’s daily operations, from staffing to coordinating fresh-cut flowers for the lobby. Many, over time, are given long-term responsibility for negotiating contracts with vendors (such as maintenance supplies), negotiating leases with on-site shops, and physically upgrading the hotel. Hotel managers usually relish “the ability to put your own distinctive style on the [hotel] experience.” While managing a hotel and giving it your unique flair are wonderful, they come with full responsibility for failure. “The better you are at what you do, the more responsibilities you are given, the more chances you have to fail,” mentioned one hotel manager. When things fall apart, “no one is a hotel manager’s friend.” Hotel managers can feel great about their positions, create strong relationships with regular customers, and maintain an amicable working environment. But should the bottom line waver and financial woes occur, the first neck on the chopping block is the hotel manager’s.
Those in the hotel management industry say that sometimes it seems that you need “to be born on the planet Krypton” to be a good hotel manager because only Superman could juggle the administrative, aesthetic, and financial decisions which constitute daily life on the job. Over 70 percent of the respondents said that “tired” was an understatement about how they felt at the end of the day (or night); “Exhausted is more like it,” wrote one, in shaky, spider-thin handwriting. A hotel manager’s position as a liaison between the ownership and the staff can be difficult and isolating. But those who can put up with the long hours, the high degree of responsibility, and the variety of tasks emerge with a solid degree of satisfaction and a desire to continue in the profession. The average tenure of a hotel manager is 6.7 years, though this figure doesn’t represent the number of managers who work for two years and those who work for decades. Many work at a variety of hotels, build up their resumes, and then find positions that allow them the freedom to operate their own establishments.
Aspiring hotel managers used to begin at the reception desk, as part of the wait staff, or as members of the cleaning staff, then work their way up the ladder. As hotels have become more commercial properties and the duties of hotel managers have expanded, this avenue of advancement has closed off. Now hotel manager hopefuls go to hotel management school, and those who don’t should garner as much practical hotel experience as possible. Each chain or specific hotel puts new employees through their own training programs, so those applying for jobs should learn all they can about the scope and functioning of the specific hotels where they wish to work.
Part of life as a hotel manager can be similar to the life of a doctor, as managers can be called to duty at any time of the day or night. Hotel managers must handle any and all emergencies, and those who wish to remain in the profession and maintain respect must be quick-thinking and decisive. Candidates should have a good organizational and financial background, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and strong self-discipline. They should also be extremely detail-oriented; when running a hotel, there is no such thing as an unimportant detail. The good manager drives himself to improve and upgrade the hotel at every available opportunity.
Hotel managers who leave the profession generally go into larger areas of management, such as property management, administrative or financial roles in large hotel chains, or independent ownership of smaller hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments. The desire for greater control and less uncertainty were cited as the two most important reasons people in the industry seek work elsewhere.