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Nature of the Work
* Long hours and the stress of dealing with hotel patrons result in high turnover.
* College graduates with degrees in hotel or restaurant management should have good job opportunities.
A comfortable room, good food, and a helpful hotel staff can make being away from home an enjoyable experience for both vacationing families and business travelers. Hotel managers and assistant managers strive to ensure their guests will have a pleasant stay by providing many of the comforts of home, including cable television, fitness equipment, and voice mail. For business travelers, hotel managers make available meeting rooms and various equipment, including slide projectors and fax machines.
Hotel managers are responsible for the efficient and profitable operation of their establishments. In a small hotel, motel, or inn with a limited staff, a single manager may direct all aspects of operations. However, large hotels may employ hundreds of workers, and the general manager may be aided by a number of assistant managers assigned to the various departments of the operation. Assistant managers must ensure that the day-to-day operations of their departments meet the standards set by the general manager.
Computers are used extensively by hotel managers and their assistants, to keep track of the guest's bill, reservations, room assignments, meetings, and special events; order food, beverages, and housekeeping and other supplies; and prepare reports for hotel owners and top-level managers. Managers work with computer specialists to ensure that the hotel's computer system functions properly. Should the hotel's computer system fail, managers must ensure that guests' needs continue to be met.
The general manager has overall responsibility for the operation of the hotel. Within guidelines established by the owners of the hotel or executives of the hotel chain, the general manager sets room rates, allocates funds to departments, approves expenditures, and establishes standards for service to guests, decor, housekeeping, food quality, and banquet operations. Managers who work for chains also may be assigned to organize and staff a newly built hotel, refurbish an older hotel, or reorganize a hotel or motel that is not operating successfully. In order to fill some low-paying service and clerical jobs in hotels, some managers attend career fairs. (For more information, see the statement on general managers and top executives elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Resident managers live in hotels and are on call 24 hours a day to resolve problems or emergencies. However, they typically work an 8-hour day, while overseeing the day-to-day operations of the hotel. In many hotels, the general manager also serves as the resident manager.
Executive housekeepers are responsible for ensuring guest rooms, meeting and banquet rooms, and public areas are clean, orderly, and well maintained. They train, schedule, and supervise the work of housekeepers; inspect rooms; and order cleaning supplies.
Front office managers coordinate reservations and room assignments as well as train and direct the hotel's front desk staff. They ensure guests are treated courteously, complaints and problems are resolved, and requests for special services are carried out. Front office managers often have authorization to adjust charges posted on a customer's bill.
Food and beverage managers direct the food service operations of hotels. They oversee the hotels' restaurants, cocktail lounges, and banquet facilities. They supervise and schedule food and beverage preparation and service workers, plan menus, estimate costs, and deal with food suppliers. (For more information, see the statement on restaurant and food service managers elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Convention services managers coordinate the activities of large hotels' various departments for meetings, conventions, and special events. They meet with representatives of groups or organizations to plan the number of rooms to reserve, the desired configuration of hotel meeting space, and any banquet services needed. During the meeting or event, they resolve unexpected problems and monitor activities to check that hotel operations conform to the expectations of the group.
Other assistant managers are responsible for personnel, accounting and office administration, marketing and sales, purchasing, security, maintenance, and recreational facilities. (For more information, see the Handbook statements on personnel, training, and labor relations specialists and managers; financial managers; and marketing, advertising, and public relations managers.)
Because hotels are open around the clock, night and weekend work is common. Many hotel managers work considerably more than 40 hours per week. Managers who live in the hotel usually have regular work schedules, but they may be called to work at any time. Some employees of resort hotels are managers during the busy season and have other duties during the rest of the year.
Hotel managers sometimes experience the pressures of coordinating a wide range of functions. Conventions and large groups of tourists may present unusual problems. Dealing with irate patrons can be stressful. The job can be particularly hectic for front office managers around check-in and check-out time. Computer failures can further complicate an already busy time.
Postsecondary training in hotel or restaurant management is preferred for most hotel management positions, although a college liberal arts degree may be sufficient when coupled with related hotel experience. In the past, many managers were promoted from the ranks of front desk clerks, housekeepers, waiters and chefs, and hotel sales workers. Although some employees still advance to hotel management positions without the benefit of education or training beyond high school, postsecondary education is preferred.
Restaurant management training or experience is also a good background for entering hotel management because the success of a hotel's food service and beverage operations is often of great importance to the profitability of the entire establishment.
Internships or part-time or summer work while in school is an asset to anyone seeking a career in hotel management. The experience gained and the contacts made with employers can greatly benefit students when they seek full-time employment after graduation. Most bachelor's degree programs include work-study opportunities. A bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant administration provides particularly strong preparation for a career in hotel management. In 1996, over 160 colleges and universities offered bachelor's and graduate programs in this field. Over 800 community and junior colleges, technical institutes, vocational and trade schools, and other academic institutions also have programs leading to an associate degree or other formal recognition in hotel or restaurant management. For example, many colleges and universities have certification programs in executive housekeeping; these programs typically cover a wide variety of topics, including environmental and workplace safety as well as Federal, State, and local safety requirements. Graduates of hotel or restaurant management programs usually start as trainee assistant managers, or at least advance to such positions more quickly.
Hotel management programs include instruction in hotel administration, accounting, economics, marketing, housekeeping, food service management and catering, and hotel maintenance engineering. Computer training is an integral part of hotel management training due to the widespread use of computers in reservations, billing, and housekeeping management.
Hotel managers must be able to get along with all kinds of people, even in stressful situations. They must be able to solve problems and concentrate on details. Initiative, self-discipline, the ability to organize and direct the work of others, and effective communication skills are essential for managers at all levels.
Sometimes large hotels sponsor specialized on-the-job management training programs which allow trainees to rotate among various departments and gain a thorough knowledge of the hotel's operation. Other hotels may help finance formal training in hotel management for outstanding employees.
Most hotels promote employees who have proven their ability and completed formal education in hotel management. Newly built hotels, particularly those without well-established on-the-job training programs, often prefer experienced personnel for managerial positions. Large hotel and motel chains may offer better opportunities for advancement than small, independently owned establishments, but relocation every several years often is necessary for advancement. The large chains have more extensive career ladder programs and offer managers the opportunity to transfer to another hotel or motel in the chain or to the central office if an opening occurs. Career advancement can be accelerated by completion of certification programs offered by the associations listed below. These programs generally require a combination of course work, examinations, and experience.
Employment of hotel managers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2006. However, long hours and stressful working conditions result in high turnover in this field, with most job openings expected to occur as experienced managers transfer to other occupations, retire, or stop working for other reasons. Job opportunities in hotel management are expected to be good for persons with college degrees in hotel or restaurant management.
Business travel will continue to grow, and increased domestic and foreign tourism will also create demand for additional hotels and motels. However, manager jobs are not expected to grow as rapidly as the hotel industry due to consolidation, with chains and franchises acquiring independently owned establishments. In addition, front desk clerks are increasingly assuming some responsibilities previously reserved for managers. Also, to accommodate bargain-conscious guests, hotel chains are increasing the number of economy-class rooms. Economy hotels offer clean, comfortable rooms and front desk services without costly extras like restaurants and room service. Because there are not as many departments in each hotel, fewer managers are needed. Economy-class hotels have a general manager, and regional offices of the hotel management company employ department managers, such as executive housekeepers, to oversee several hotels.
Demand may also increase for suite hotels as some guests, especially business customers, are willing to pay higher prices for rooms with kitchens and suites that provide the space needed to conduct meetings. In addition to job growth in suite hotels and economy-class hotels, large full-service hotelsoffering restaurants, fitness centers, large meeting rooms, and play areas for children, among other amenitieswill continue to offer many trainee and managerial opportunities.
Salaries of hotel managers vary greatly according to their responsibilities and the segment of the hotel industry in which they are employed. In 1996, annual salaries of assistant hotel managers averaged around $40,000, based on a hospitality industry survey conducted by Roth Young Personnel of Oklahoma City. Salaries of assistant managers also varied because of differences in duties and responsibilities. For example, food and beverage directors averaged $43,000, whereas front office managers averaged $28,000. The manager's level of experience is also an important factor.
In 1996, salaries of general managers averaged nearly $54,000, according to the Roth Young survey. Their salaries ranged from $39,000 to $81,000, depending on the size and type of establishment. Based on limited information, managers may earn bonuses up to 25 percent of their basic salary in some hotels. In addition, managers and their families may be furnished with lodging, meals, parking, laundry, and other services.
In addition to typical benefits, some hotels offer profit-sharing plans and educational assistance to their employees.
Hotel managers and assistants are not the only workers concerned with organizing and directing a business where customer service is the cornerstone of their success. Other occupations sharing similar responsibilities include restaurant managers, apartment building managers, retail store managers, and office managers.
For information on careers and scholarships in hotel management, contact:
The American Hotel and Motel Association (AH&MA), Information Center, 1201 New York Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20005-3931.
For information on educational programs, including correspondence courses, in hotel and restaurant management, write to:
Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education, 1200 17th St. NW., Washington, DC 20036-3097.
Information on careers in housekeeping management may be obtained from:
National Executive Housekeepers Association, Inc., 1001 Eastwind Dr., Suite 301, Westerville, OH 43081. Phone: (800) 200-6342.
General career information and a directory of accredited private trade and technical schools offering programs in hotel-motel management may be obtained from:
Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, 2101 Wilson Blvd., Suite 302, Arlington, VA 22201.
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