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How to Become a Hotel Manager

Responsibilities, working hours, what to expect and qualifications needed

Career guides » How to Become a Hotel Manager

What does a hotel manager do?

A hotel manager is often known as a hotel general manager or guest house manager. They work in the hospitality industry and are responsible for managing staff and the day-to-day operations of a hotel. They plan, organise and direct all services offered by the hotel.

Hotel managers can work in different types of hotels, such as chains, resorts, inns, motels, luxury and others. They can work in various-sized establishments, from large castles to small townhouses. They can manage one or many hotels regionally or nationally and specialise in specific hotel services. Therefore, what they do will depend on where they work and their specialisms.

A hotel manager’s main aim is to ensure guests receive exceptional service and leave the hotel satisfied. They also have an essential role in keeping staff safe and happy, managing the finances of a hotel and keeping within budget. They are overall responsible for happy guests and ensuring the hotel is profitable.

Hotel managers can carry out many tasks, including setting sales targets, recruiting staff, training staff, organising and supervising staff, meeting and greeting guests, ensuring guests are satisfied, setting budgets, dealing with customer complaints, marketing and promoting, ensuring legal compliance, overseeing maintenance/other operations, managing events, etc. The role may also encompass administrative tasks/computer work, such as keeping records and writing reports.

Hotel managers may work under hotel owners, managing directors and other leadership team members. They can manage various staff, such as deputy hotel managers, receptionists/front of house staff, porters, kitchen/food service/bar staff, housekeepers, administrators, event planners, marketing staff, maintenance workers and other support services. Who they manage will depend on the size and nature of the hotel.

Hotel managers can also liaise with various external stakeholders, which may include guests (of all ages), suppliers, delivery companies/drivers, contractors, tradespeople, consultants, local authorities, the Health and Safety Executive, the Fire & Rescue Service, other emergency services, neighbours, etc.

Hotel managers can work for various-sized companies, from large hotel chains and resorts to small hotels and guesthouses. Most will work full-time, but there are part-time opportunities in some roles. There are also self-employed, temporary, contract and live-in jobs available.

Responsibilities

A hotel manager’s responsibilities will depend on many factors, including the size and nature of the hotel they manage, their employer, their role and their specialisms.

Some examples of their day-to-day duties may include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Planning, organising and managing hotel services, e.g. rooms, food and spa.
  • Recruiting staff, including interviewing potential employees.
  • Training, organising, supporting and supervising staff.
  • Enforcing hotel policies and procedures and disciplining staff where necessary.
  • Ensuring staff have the resources they need to provide exceptional service to guests.
  • Setting and achieving sales targets.
  • Managing finances, setting budgets, controlling expenses and forecasting income.
  • Meeting and greeting guests and ensuring they are satisfied.
  • Ensuring the standard of guest service is high.
  • Dealing with guest complaints and enquiries.
  • Using various marketing and sales promotions to attract guests and boost business.
  • Ensuring the hotel is legally compliant with fire safety, licensing, food hygiene, health and safety and other regulations.
  • Managing events and corporate bookings.
  • Liaising with suppliers and contractors.
  • Overseeing maintenance, renovations, fire safety and security.
  • Conducting inspections of property, services and facilities.
  • Keeping records up to date, e.g. financial.
  • Addressing any issues and actioning them accordingly.

 

Hotel managers may have more responsibilities in smaller hotels and may be responsible for specific services in larger hotels.

Working hours

A hotel manager can expect to work 40-42 hours a week, but they can do more or fewer hours depending on the type of hotel, their role and their employer. Most hotel managers will work long hours.

Being a hotel manager is not a 9-5 job. They usually work unsociable hours, e.g. evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Some early mornings and nights may also be necessary on occasion.

Most hotel manager roles are full-time, but part-time jobs are available. There may also be temporary or contract and self-employed jobs for those with more experience.

Travel may be a requirement for hotel managers, especially if they manage several hotels regionally or nationally. There may also be overseas opportunities for some individuals.

Some jobs may offer live-in options where hotel managers can live on-site. Living and working on the same site is not for everyone, as it can make work-life balance difficult.

What to expect

There are many positives to being a hotel manager, especially if an individual enjoys managing people and dressing smartly for work every day. The role would suit those who enjoy being in a fast-paced and demanding senior position. It is not a job for more introverted people.

Being a hotel manager can be a rewarding experience, especially if they receive positive feedback from guests, there is high morale among staff, and the hotel runs successfully. They can go home after the working day knowing they have happy guests, a productive workforce and a profitable hotel.

There is no shortage of jobs within the hospitality industry and different hotels countrywide and globally in which to work. Hotel managers will develop numerous transferable skills that can also be useful in other sectors. There is plenty of opportunities for growth and movement within this career.

Hotel managers’ salaries are competitive. Some can earn over £100,000 a year when working for prestigious hotels. They will also usually receive generous benefits on top of their salary, including pension and life assurance schemes, free meals, discounts on accommodation, private healthcare, uniforms, etc.

Boredom will never be a problem for hotel managers, and no two days will be the same. One day, they could manage an event at the hotel, like a wedding, and the next, deal with contractors on a refurbishment project. They will have different responsibilities and interact with various people throughout their working day.

Even though there are positives to being a hotel manager, there are challenges and cons, e.g.:

  • People management – managing staff is no easy task, as it requires a particular skill set and personality. Hotel managers may need to deal with staff conflicts, disputes, grievances and disciplinaries. Some employees can be difficult to deal with, challenging and stressful.
  • Challenging guests – there may be situations where hotel managers have to get involved with guest complaints, and they may have unreasonable requests. Hotel managers must be able to deal with challenging customers while remaining professional, patient and courteous, which can be difficult if they are verbally and even physically abusive.
  • Physical and mental demands – being a hotel manager can be physically and mentally demanding. It is a fast-paced and demanding role, and there are constant pressures. It can require individuals to be on their feet for most of the working day, especially in larger hotels, resorts and complexes. The hours can be long, erratic and unsociable. Therefore, the role is not for the faint-hearted.
  • Responsibility – hotel managers have responsibility for the day-to-day running of hotels. They will be responsible for the health, safety and welfare of all guests, staff and visitors. They must be able to direct all hotel services while ensuring the business makes a profit and guests and staff are happy. The high level of responsibility and commitment may be too much for some people.

 

Every career choice has pros and cons, and individuals must know what to expect before deciding whether it is for them. Being a hotel manager can be physically and mentally demanding, high-pressured, challenging and stressful. However, there are many positives too, and those who become hotel managers enjoy seeing their staff happy and productive and seeing guests having a great experience. The generous salary and benefits help too!

When considering whether to be a hotel manager and the type of role, individuals should look at the pros and cons. They should also ensure they have the right personal qualities to carry out the role and responsibilities required.

Personal qualities needed to be a hotel manager

Some of the personal qualities a hotel manager requires will include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Knowledge of the hospitality industry.
  • Knowledge of health and safety, licensing, fire safety and food hygiene.
  • Knowledge of finance and budgeting.
  • Tact, diplomacy, patience, professionalism, persistence and determination.
  • Confident, assertive, calm and rational.
  • Smart and well-dressed.
  • Friendly, welcoming, energetic and approachable.
  • Exceptional customer service skills.
  • Excellent leadership skills.
  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Time management, planning and organisational skills.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Listening skills.
  • Teamworking skills.
  • Numeracy skills.
  • Practical skills.
  • Business management skills.
  • Being thorough, accurate and having excellent attention to detail.
  • The ability to manage and motivate staff.
  • The ability to be flexible and open to change.
  • The ability to think clearly and objectively.
  • The ability to make quick decisions.
  • The ability to diffuse escalating situations.
  • The ability to work well with others in a team and alone using their own initiative.
  • The ability to work well under pressure and remain calm in stressful situations.
  • The ability to balance the needs of guests and the business.
  • The ability to use a computer and relevant software packages proficiently.

 

Being able to speak other languages fluently can be useful but not essential.

Qualifications and training

Qualifications

There are many different routes to becoming a hotel manager. Individuals could go to university or college, enrol on a course with a private training provider or apply for an apprenticeship. They could also do work experience to help them enter the role.

University

A degree in a relevant subject can maximise individuals’ chances of success.

Some examples of degree topics are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Hospitality management.
  • Hotel management.
  • Hospitality business management.
  • Hotel and hospitality management.
  • International hotel management.

 

A degree in business management, travel and tourism, business with languages, and leisure studies can also help. If an individual wants to work in specific hotel services, they may need additional qualifications.

The entry requirements and the number of UCAS points needed will depend on each university, and individuals should check before applying.

They will typically require the following:

  • 1 or 2 A Levels for a foundation degree or higher national diploma.
  • 2 or 3 good A Levels for an undergraduate degree.
  • 2:1 or 2:2 relevant undergraduate degree subject for a postgraduate degree.

 

Some institutions may also invite applicants for an interview as part of the selection process.

College/private training

Individuals usually need a degree for hotel manager roles. However, undertaking a college course can help individuals work towards the position and/or get a place on a degree course.

Some example courses that may be useful are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Level 2 Diploma in Hospitality Services.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management.
  • Level 2/3 Diploma in Business or Business and Administration.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Hotel Management.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality Management.
  • A Level in Business Studies.
  • T Level in Business.
  • T Level in Management & Administration.

 

Individuals usually need:

  • Level 2 – two or more GCSEs grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) or equivalent.
  • Level 3/A Levels – four/five GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent.
  • T Levels – four/five GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent (including English and maths).

 

Private training companies may also offer courses. It may also be worth enrolling on low-cost online short hospitality/hotel management courses to see if a career as a hotel manager would be of interest. That way, if not, it will save an individual a lot of time and trouble.

Courses and qualifications do not guarantee a role in hotel management. However, it will demonstrate to employers that an individual is keen on the job and may give them a competitive edge. Always check the entry requirements before applying.

Apprenticeship

There is an apprenticeship route to help individuals become hotel managers, e.g.:/p>

  • Advanced apprenticeship in hospitality – individuals usually need five GCSEs, grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, or equivalent.
  • Higher apprenticeship in hospitality management – individuals usually need four or five GCSEs, grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A Levels, or equivalent.

 

Opportunities are on Government’s Apprenticeships, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Indeed.

Large hotel groups and chains may also offer apprenticeships, usually advertised on their web pages./p>

Hotel Manager Greeting Guests

Work experience

Relevant work experience, either paid or voluntary, can help individuals stand out and build their knowledge and skills.

To gain experience, individuals could (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Apply for a junior role in a hotel and work their way up to management by taking relevant qualifications while training on the job.
  • Work in a customer-facing role in the hospitality or retail industry.
  • Work in various hotel departments to understand how they function and work together.
  • Do work experience at a hotel and shadow experienced hotel managers.
  • Volunteer for a charity in a position that builds customer service, leadership, communication and organisational skills. Volunteering with charities that provide accommodation may be useful.
  • Attend hospitality conferences and seminars to meet others in the industry and gain knowledge on trends.

 

Training and experience may be necessary for some jobs and volunteer opportunities.

Job opportunities are on various websites, and there is information on volunteering and local opportunities on Do-IT, NCVO and Volunteering Matters.

Hotel Manager Conducting Staff Meeting Before Event

Training courses

Learning does not stop with experience or once someone becomes qualified. Attending relevant training courses and having additional certifications can help individuals enter the profession, enhance their employability and give them a competitive edge. Many colleges and accredited private training companies can provide relevant training courses.

We have many examples of approved courses that may be useful for individuals looking at a career as a hotel manager, including (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Health and safety for managers.
  • Assessing risk.
  • Fire safety awareness.
  • Legionella awareness.
  • DSE awareness.
  • Food safety and hygiene.
  • Improving your food hygiene rating.
  • Pest control.
  • COVID-19 awareness.
  • Workplace first aid.
  • Equality and diversity.
  • Understanding the GDPR.
  • Customer service skills.
  • Conflict management.
  • Disciplinaries and grievance procedures training.
  • Complaints handling.
  • Time management skills.
  • Resilience training.
  • Management Level 3.
  • Employment law.

 

Professional bodies and associations, such as the Institute of Hospitality, the European Hotel Managers Association (E.H.M.A), the International Association of Hotel General Managers, HOSPA, UKHospitality, and other organisations, can also advise on reputable training courses. Some also provide memberships, events and support to help individuals become hotel managers and give those already in the profession the means to continue their professional development.

The type of training required will depend on who an individual works for and their specialisms. It is worth looking at several job advertisements to identify the training needed, especially for specialist roles. Jobs are on websites such as GOV.UK Find a Job Service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Caterer.com, Jobs in hotels, s1jobs, British Hospitality Jobs, leisurejobs.com and many other sites. Also, look at recruitment agencies for temporary and contract roles and individual company websites.

More relevant training and competence (skills, experience and knowledge) will open up more opportunities for individuals. Refresher training is also advisable as it keeps their knowledge and skills up to date.

Driving

Some hotel managers will drive as part of their role, e.g. if they work regionally or nationally or the site is extensive, i.e. a resort. Therefore, they may need a full driving licence.

Training to Become a Hotel Manager

Where do hotel managers work?

Hotel managers can work in various settings, such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Motels.
  • Bed and breakfasts.
  • Inns.
  • International and national chain hotels.
  • Travel lodges.
  • Resorts.
  • Holiday villages.
  • Residential, country and golf clubs.
  • Independent hotels.
  • Conference/convention centre hotels.
  • Luxury and boutique hotels.
  • Airport hotels.
  • Casino hotels.

 

Hotels can be in urban, suburban, rural and seaside areas. Some may be overseas.

The hotels vary significantly, from large country houses and castles to small motels and bed and breakfasts in old townhouses.

Hotel managers can be employed by:

  • Hotel and leisure chains and groups.
  • Family-owned businesses.
  • Private owners.
  • Entertainment and leisure companies.
  • Brewing companies, i.e. pub hotels.

 

There are also opportunities to work in temporary or contract roles and be self-employed.

Hotel managers can work in various areas of a hotel, depending on its size and nature. They may work in offices and visit other services during their working day.

Hotel Manager Checking Kitchen

How much do hotel managers earn?

A hotel manager’s salary will depend on the size/nature of the hotel and their role, qualifications, experience, geographical location, employer, working hours, contract and specialist area.

Some examples of average annual salaries include the following (these figures are only a guide):

  • £20,000 starter to £60,000 experienced (National Careers Service).
  • £30,000 (Talent.com).
  • £30,105 (Payscale).
  • £31,513 (Indeed UK).
  • £33,444.40 (Check-a-Salary).
  • £35,297 (Glassdoor).
  • £37,200 (Jobted).

 

Salaries are usually higher for those working with large hotel chains and groups, especially when individuals have more experience.

As mentioned, hotel managers usually receive benefits in addition to their salaries.

As an apprentice, the salary will depend on an individual’s age and how long they have been in their apprenticeship. Apprentices must earn at least the current National Minimum Wage (NMW). Some employers will pay more than this. However, it will depend on the organisation and role on offer.

Guest Checking In to Hotel

Types of hotel managers to specialise in

Hotel managers can specialise in working in specific hotels. For example, an individual may want to work in (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Large chain hotels – in these establishments, hotel managers may manage a large team, each with their own responsibilities. Larger hotels will offer more facilities, which hotel managers will be responsible for. These roles may also involve regional, national and even international travel.
  • Luxury hotels – usually 4 or 5-star. They cater for guests looking for high-end accommodation and exceptional/world-class service. As guests pay more and have higher expectations, hotel managers must ensure they and their staff deliver and provide the ultimate experience. Having outstanding attention to detail is a must in these settings.
  • Resort hotels – offer many more guest facilities, experiences and activities, such as swimming pools, spas, golf courses, health clubs, sports facilities, extensive grounds, restaurants, etc. Therefore, hotel managers will be responsible for numerous areas and services or may look after a specific one. It may require travelling across a large site by foot, car or another vehicle.
  • Small privately-owned hotels – typically have fewer facilities, but hotel managers may have to plan and organise most, if not all, of its services. Hotel managers may report directly to the hotel owner in these settings.

 

In larger hotels, individuals may choose to specialise in certain areas, such as:

  • Accounting.
  • Finance.
  • Guest services.
  • Health and safety.
  • Human resources.
  • Marketing.
  • Training.

 

All specialist hotel management roles require differing knowledge, skills, experience and qualities. All hotel managers need a passion for providing excellent customer service and will require leadership and business management skills. Any additional areas of expertise will depend on what a company is looking for and a hotel manager’s intended specialist areas. Further training may be necessary for specialised roles.

Hotel managers not carrying out their roles correctly and not showing good leadership and management can result in low staff morale, reduced productivity, unhappy guests, customer complaints, a poor reputation and loss of business. In worse cases, staff, guests or visitors could fall ill, be injured, or worse. Therefore, whatever the type of role, hotel managers must have the necessary competence to carry out the work professionally and correctly. They should also know the limits of their competency, i.e. asking for help when something is beyond their expertise.

Hotel

Professional bodies

Trends, accommodation, equipment, technologies and guests are regularly changing. Therefore, hotel managers must keep ahead of the latest developments and changes to carry out their roles effectively and correctly. Continuing professional development (CPD) gives hotel managers the knowledge and skills to keep up to date with these changes, understand their responsibilities, and progress in their careers.

Joining a professional body or association (as previously mentioned) can help prospective and current hotel managers enhance their skills and overall career. They may offer different levels of membership, CPD, support and access to industry contacts and networking events.

There is an opportunity for career progression for hotel managers. With more training and experience, they could move from a small hotel and work in a larger one or become a regional hotel manager looking after several hotels nationally or internationally. Alternatively, they may choose to specialise in a specific area of hotel management, such as guest services or finance. They could also decide to become self-employed or work on contracts.

Knowledge, skills and experience gained from working as a hotel manager can also lead to a career in different areas. For example, they could use their transferable skills in other hospitality areas, such as food/beverage and travel/tourism. Finally, they could undertake further qualifications and apply for management roles in other sectors.

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