Hotel management requires excellent people management skills and a calm, professional, approachable manner
As a hotel manager, you'll be commercially accountable for budgeting and financial management and will need to plan, organise and direct all hotel services, including front-of-house (reception, concierge, and reservations), food and beverage operations and housekeeping.
In larger hotels, you'll often have a specific remit, such as guest services, accounting or marketing, and your role will form part of a general management team.
As a hotel manager, you'll need to:
- plan and organise accommodation, catering and other hotel services
- promote and market the business
- manage budgets and financial plans and control expenditure
- maintain statistical and financial records
- set and achieve sales and profit targets
- analyse sales figures and devise market and revenue management strategies
- recruit, train and monitor staff
- plan work schedules for individuals and teams
- meet and greet customers
- deal with customer complaints and comments
- address problems and troubleshoot accordingly
- ensure events and conferences run smoothly
- supervise maintenance, supplies, renovations and furnishings
- deal with contractors and suppliers
- ensure security is effective
- carry out inspections of property and services
- ensure compliance with licensing laws, health and safety and other statutory regulations.
- Starting salaries for an assistant general manager are around £19,000 to £40,000. There will be variations depending on levels of competition, as well as the location and size of the hotel. Where a position requires the manager to 'live in', this will also be reflected in the salary offered.
- If you manage a small hotel or are the deputy manager of a larger hotel, expect a salary in the region of £20,000 to £35,000.
- As a general manager in London, you could earn £85,000 on average with a range of £50,000 to £200,000 for the largest, most prestigious hotels.
Salaries rise with performance and progression but will be lower in small, independent hotels. For managers employed by large, global hotel groups, where there are opportunities to work overseas, the financial rewards are considerable.
Additional benefits can include pension and life assurance schemes, private healthcare, shared-ownership schemes, live-in accommodation, meals on duty, clothing allowance or provision of uniform, a flexible working pattern and discounted hotel accommodation worldwide.
Salary data from the Berkley Scott Salary Survey 2020. Figures are intended as a guide only.
Your working hours will vary according to the type of hotel you're working in and its location, but typically the role includes regular unsocial hours - late nights, weekends and bank holidays will all be part of your shift pattern. Working hours can be long and could restrict your social and family life.
What to expect
- Although some of the work is office-based, much of your time will be spent with customers and staff.
- Around 50% of hotel managers are self-employed in small hotels, motels, inns and residential clubs.
- Women are under-represented in senior management roles in the hospitality industry. Reviews, such as the Insight Report: Women working in the hospitality & tourism sector and Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure 2020, address this issue and call on companies to support the progression of women into senior roles within the industry.
- Hotel management requires total commitment, as the work is exacting and demanding, with erratic, unsocial hours and constant pressures.
- Managers must dress smartly when on duty and must remain diplomatic, polite and patient at all times.
- Additional benefits can include pension and life assurance schemes, private healthcare, shared-ownership schemes, live-in accommodation, meals on duty, clothing allowance or provision of uniform, a flexible working pattern and discounted hotel accommodation worldwide.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with an HND, a degree in the following subjects may increase your chances:
- business with languages
- business or management
- hotel and hospitality management
- travel, tourism or leisure studies.
If you want to work in a particular section of a hotel or hotel group, such as advertising or accounting, you may need a relevant qualification or professional accreditation.
Some of the management training programmes run by large hotel groups are for graduate entry only, for which a minimum 2:2 degree is usually required.
It's possible to enter hotel management without a degree, HND or foundation degree, since employers place a lot of emphasis on relevant experience. A general standard of education is expected but you can work your way up to management through on-the-job training and external qualifications.
A postgraduate qualification is not normally necessary for entry unless your first degree is in a non-relevant subject or you lack work experience. Masters, diploma and certificate courses in hotel and/or hospitality management are offered at various institutions. Many of these courses are open to graduates from any discipline with little or no experience, as well as non-graduates with significant hotel or managerial experience.
You'll need to have:
- a friendly personality, with a genuine desire to help and please others
- the ability to think clearly and make quick decisions
- good organisational and leadership skills
- numeracy and logistical planning skills
- a professional manner and a calm, rational approach in hectic situations
- the ability to balance customer and business priorities
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills, especially when dealing with speakers of other languages
- proficiency in another language - this is not essential but could be an advantage, especially for hotels which are part of an international chain
- energy and patience
- a smart well-presented appearance.
Employers often ask for relevant work experience, not all of which needs to have been in a hotel, although this is particularly helpful. Other experience might include any customer-focused work such as catering, bar or retail work.
You can find employment as a hotel manager (also commonly known as a general manager) in a range of establishments, including:
- bed and breakfast accommodation
- large multinational chain hotels
- residential and country clubs
- small family-owned independent hotels
- travel lodges.
Each type of establishment offers a different kind of experience for staff and guests and you can decide which suits you best. In smaller, privately-owned town hotels, for example, the manager (who may also be the owner) deals directly with all business issues. On the other hand, when working as a manager for an international global hotel group you'll have a large team of staff, each with their own specific responsibilities. International chain hotels, often situated in exotic locations, offer a huge variety of catering, entertainment and leisure facilities. The facilities in smaller hotels are often limited and may be of a lower standard.
If you're planning to specialise early on in your hotel management career you'll need to select your first job with care, as some hotel groups offer wider opportunities than others.
Look for job vacancies at:
Specialist hospitality recruitment consultants such as Berkeley Scott advertise hotel manager jobs.
Hotels often advertise specific vacancies locally. Larger hotel chains may advertise vacancies on their own websites. You can easily research to see if a particular hotel is part of a wider chain and check their careers section for vacancies or instructions on how to apply to work for them.
Some large hotel groups operate graduate recruitment programmes for managers, although you can progress to top management posts through experience. The length of training on recruitment programmes varies, but is usually between one and two years, with the aim being to create future operations managers.
Graduate programmes differ depending on the employer and may be specific to certain aspects of hotel work or more general covering all operations. In general, hotels seek to provide graduates with as wide an understanding of hotel management as possible. Depending on the programme, training will cover some or all of the following elements:
- sommelier training
- room service
- the concierge desk
- guest relations
- night management
During the training programme you'll be supported and coached by senior managers and a mutually agreed personal development plan will be put in place. Regular progress reviews are also conducted.
Employers often require graduates to be geographically mobile, particularly within larger hotel chains. If you choose to work for a larger chain you may need to be prepared to relocate during your training. This could involve spending time at hotels abroad or in other parts of the UK. On successful completion of the programme, you'll be placed as a head of department or assistant manager.
Much of the training will be carried out in-house but you can also take qualifications externally, including City & Guilds courses and the Pearson Edexcel Level 4 Diploma in Hospitality Management.
Specialist courses in customer service, finance, revenue management, marketing, human resources and food safety are likely to form part of the training where required.
You could complete a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to improve your business skills. Or, study for financial or accounting qualifications to enhance your skillset and specialise in a certain area of hotel management.
Because the hospitality workforce is generally young and staff turnover is quite high, promotion prospects are good for motivated graduates.
Progression is usually from graduate trainee to assistant front-of-house manager or assistant food and beverage manager, to deputy manager and then head of department. The speed of your promotion to management level mainly depends on the size of the hotel and your success as a trainee, but can generally be achieved within two years.
It may take longer to reach the post of hotel or general manager - typically a further five to six years - and you may need to relocate and/or change employer several times to do so.
Within larger hotel groups, promotion may be to a more strategic role, such as corporate marketing, human resources or finance, for which additional qualifications may be needed. There might also be opportunities to work at head office or regional level. Opportunities also exist for experienced managers to work as management consultants.