Accommodation managers are responsible for making sure their establishment is run efficiently, that standards of cleanliness and maintenance are upheld, budgets are controlled and any problems are quickly rectified.

They must also make sure their teams of staff are well trained and managed.

Accommodation managers may work in a variety of settings including:

  • care homes;
  • conference centres;
  • halls of residence;
  • health worker housing;
  • hotels;
  • housing associations;
  • NHS hospitals;
  • youth hostels.

Job titles vary depending on the sector; for example in hotels accommodation managers may be known as housekeepers or housekeeping managers, in halls of residences they may be known as domestic bursars or hall managers, and in hospitals as domestic services or facilities managers.

Responsibilities

Accommodation managers across all sectors and establishments have similar managerial responsibilities that often cover people and the building.

Common tasks include budget control, business planning and administration.

People management is a major part of the job and increasingly accommodation managers are required to supervise staff employed by contractors rather than in-house teams. Staff management involves:

  • handling staff turnover;
  • training new staff to ensure the establishment's high standards are maintained;
  • making sure staff are aware of policies and procedures;
  • planning staff rotas and covering duty roster slots;
  • dealing with any HR related issues and ensuring health and safety processes are followed by all staff.

Exact duties and levels of responsibility vary depending on the establishment you work in but in general they include:

  • controlling a budget and finances, managing stock levels and ordering supplies;
  • communicating with reception services to coordinate and plan the allocation of accommodation;
  • liaising with other departments within the organisation, e.g. catering or conferences and relevant external agencies;
  • arranging repairs and maintenance of the facilities;
  • inspecting the accommodation to ensure that hygiene and health and safety regulations are met, carrying out risk assessments as necessary;
  • supervising the work of cleaning staff and ensuring standards are maintained;
  • making sure adequate security for the building is provided;
  • ensuring the smooth running of accommodation facilities, including the safety and well-being of guests and residents;
  • involvement in the building and refurbishment of residential accommodation.

Accommodation managers may be involved in some practical or hands-on work depending on the establishment, but their role is mainly supervisory.

Salary

  • Salaries for a trainee accommodation manager are in the region of £17,000 to £22,000 depending on the location and size of the establishment.
  • At a senior level, salaries can range from £22,000 to £40,000+, again depending on the establishment.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Employee benefits

Benefits may include free or subsidised meals and accommodation, reduced-rate of health club membership and company pension schemes. Additional overtime payments may be available.

Working hours

Working hours are usually around 37 to 40 a week, although you may be expected to work more than this. Shift work and irregular hours with early starts and late finishes are common. You may also need to work at weekends and bank holidays.

Most managers are employed on a full-time basis but there may be opportunities for part-time work. Career breaks are sometimes possible.

What to expect

  • Accommodation managers in education may need to be on call for emergencies. Student vacation time may be busy, as halls of residence may provide accommodation and facilities for outside lets, tourists and conferences. It may therefore be difficult to take holidays at this time.
  • The work can be stressful, especially in hotels on changeover days and at weekends. In education, the workload varies according to the time of year, for example the start of the academic year is exceptionally busy when housing incoming students.
  • Opportunities are available throughout the country. Many organisations, particularly within the hotel and leisure sector, have opportunities to work overseas.
  • A uniform may be compulsory in some establishments.
  • Travel within a working day may be required but usually only if your organisation has several sites that you are responsible for.

Qualifications

Entry into accommodation management is open to all graduates, but the following degree and HND subjects may increase your chances:

  • business studies;
  • health and safety;
  • hospitality and leisure management;
  • hotel and catering;
  • human resources;
  • management.

Entry without a degree or HND is possible, for example, via an advanced-modern apprenticeship or by training on the job. In these situations, it is likely that you will start at a lower level and then work your way up to a management position.

Larger hotel chains have management-training programmes where a degree qualification is normally a requirement.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not necessary, although relevant qualifications are available, such as a Postgraduate Diploma or MSc in Hospitality Management or an MBA. These qualifications may aid entry into a higher-level role.

Search for postgraduate courses in tourism, hospitality and event management.

Skills

You will need to show:

  • strong communication skills;
  • the ability to motivate people, delegate tasks and work as part of a wider team;
  • IT skills and familiarity with databases and spreadsheets for data analysis;
  • financial planning and budget management skills;
  • the ability to remain diplomatic and pleasant, think on your feet and remain calm in a crisis;
  • good customer relations skills, a sense of humour and plenty of energy and stamina;
  • the capacity to develop strong working relationships with others;
  • flexibility and adaptability with good organisational skills;
  • ability to work under pressure and to solve problems;
  • supervisory or leadership skills.

Knowledge of relevant policies and procedures relevant to the role, such as contract, housing or employment law, health and safety, cleanliness practices and waste management will put you at an advantage.

Work experience

Previous experience in a related role is usually valued highly by employers, so it is important that you try to build up experience as well as gain relevant qualifications. This can be done by carrying out part-time or holiday work in the hotel and hospitality, housing or higher education sectors.

Knowledge and experience of service departments, such as restaurant, bar, kitchen, reception and conference facilities, can be useful and will demonstrate your commitment and adaptability. Supervisory or team leader experience can help to show your managerial capabilities.

Placement years on degree courses can also be useful for building up relevant experience and for making good industry contacts. Try to secure a placement that is linked to the area you would like your career to be based in.

To aid entry into the career, you could ask for work experience at local establishments. This may include shadowing an accommodation manager at a hotel or doing some voluntary work at a hostel.

Building networks and contacts is also a good idea and the sector skills council People 1st is a good source of information, providing updates about relevant events and news in the industry.

Employers

Opportunities exist with a range of employers within the hospitality sector, these include:

  • conference centres;
  • cruise liners;
  • holiday resorts and holiday complexes;
  • hotel chains and groups;
  • independent hotels;
  • youth hostels and motels.

Managerial positions are available in the public sector, with universities that operate large-scale accommodation services, including halls of residence and self-catering flats.

The National Health Service (NHS) is also a large employer. The NHS requires staff to manage accommodation for employees, such as nurses, as well as hotel services for patients. Private hospitals may have vacancies for facilities managers.

Other employers include residential care homes (both state funded and private), sheltered accommodation and housing association schemes or contract organisations used by the NHS, hotel chains, etc.

Look for job vacancies at:

Large national recruitment agencies and smaller specialist agencies advertise vacancies.

Get more tips on how to find a job, create a successful CV and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.

Professional development

The majority of employers will offer on-the-job training.

Increasingly, large hotel chains are introducing formal training programmes for future managers. These programmes give trainees the chance to experience management across a range of divisions within the organisation, including housekeeping, human resources and front of house, before specialising in a chosen area.

Smaller establishments develop their staff through a combination of on-the-job training and support for further study and continuing professional development (CPD).

There are opportunities to undertake external training and qualifications. Many employers will support this and may give you time off work to accommodate your studies.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) offers a range of housing-related qualifications and short courses including, the CIH Level 4 Certificate and Diploma in Housing Practice. These qualifications are relevant to all housing workers and also those working in student accommodation.

Full details of available courses are available at CIH Qualifications.

A range of qualifications specifically designed to meet the needs of management trainees within hospitality are offered by the Institute of Hospitality. The institute advises on CPD activities and offers members a tool for keeping track of all CPD courses and events.

There are other qualifications which can be gained in areas like hospitality supervision, accommodation operations and housekeeping. There are also a range of short courses available in areas that may be relevant to your role, such as health and safety, hygiene and first aid.

Career prospects

It is likely you will need to work at assistant-manager level initially, in order to gain enough experience to progress to manager level.

Once that is achieved, progression is normally to larger establishments, offering wider opportunities and often greater responsibilities. Geographical mobility can be an advantage for more rapid career progression.

Natural career progression is to general-manager level, overseeing the management of an entire hotel, residential service or estates division. The role of a general manager is much more business focused and is concerned with profitability, strategy and planning.

Progression is normally achieved by acquiring a combination of experience and relevant qualifications. Postgraduate-level study, for example an MBA, is often undertaken by managers looking to secure the highest-level management positions.

As you will have gained experience and skills in business management generally, you may wish to move sideways into a management role within a different division of your organisation or within the wider hospitality or business sector, for example human resources management or finance.

You could also move into another service role such as restaurant management or contract cleaning management. The latter involves managing cleaning services in environments such as businesses, schools and hospitality, and so relevant experience may have been gained from the accommodation role.

If you have an entrepreneurial flair you may decide to invest in and run your own establishment, such as an independent hotel or residential flats.