Hotel Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Hotel managers are responsible for every aspect of their hotel. Their job involves making sure guests are happy with the service, recruiting the right staff, ensuring the hotel has all the supplies and equipment it needs, and promoting special events.

Depending on the size of hotel, the manager may handle some of these tasks themselves, or they might have a whole team of people to carry out the work.

Overall, though, it is the hotel manager's job to keep the business running smoothly and profitably. This means making the hotel welcoming, comfortable and safe, and keeping a close eye on income and expenditure.

A hotel manager is likely to be responsible for:

  • Setting budgets and targets.
  • Customer (guest) relations.
  • Overseeing the smooth running of the hotel.
  • Putting together a business plan.
  • Purchasing and stock control.
  • Deciding on marketing and publicity strategies.
  • Recruiting, training and, when necessary, dismissing staff.
  • The health and safety of guests and staff.
  • Food safety and licensing law requirements.
  • Making sure security systems are effective.
  • Analysing information and making improvements.

In a large hotel, the hotel manager may lead a team of managers, each responsible for an area such as housekeeping, maintenance, or food and drink. In this kind of management role, there is less direct contact with guests. A lot of time is spent in meetings with members of the management team, in working out and analysing finances, and in writing reports.

In a small hotel, the manager is more involved in the day-to-day running of the business, coping with whatever arises, from carrying guests' luggage, to pouring drinks or dealing with minor repairs.

Hotel managers work long hours, including evenings, sometimes through the night, and often at weekends and public holidays. They may work in shifts.

Some managers live in the hotel itself. They could be called on to help with problems or make decisions even when they are not on duty.

Managers work in pleasant surroundings most of the time, and usually have an office. They often spend time in all different areas of the hotel including reception, the kitchens, storerooms and leisure areas.

They may also need to travel to meetings or to meet suppliers. This could involve being away from home for a few days.

Part-time work may be possible, but this is a demanding job and is more likely to require working overtime. Some smaller hotels may close out of season.

Trainee hotel managers may earn between £12,000 and £17,000 a year. Hotel managers in London tend to earn more.

Larger hotels and groups might offer a package of benefits, including a pension, healthcare and discounts on staying at other hotels in the chain, or shares. Some posts may include accommodation and meals.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are more than 35,000 hotels and guesthouses across the UK. They include budget hotels, country house hotels, city centre hotels aimed at business people, and international and resort hotels that offer high-quality accommodation and facilities.

This is a growing industry and there are lots of opportunities for hotel managers, but there is fierce competition for jobs, especially in large hotel groups.

Jobs are available throughout the country, and many chains also require managers to work in their hotels overseas.

Jobs are advertised in trade magazines such as Caterer and Hotelkeeper, in Jobcentre Plus offices, and on recruitment websites such as www.caterer.com, www.caterersearch.com and www.hcareers.co.uk. Jobs may also be advertised in the local press, and there are many recruitment agencies that deal with hotel positions.

Many of the hotel groups have their own websites and may advertise vacancies or have contact details for people interested in working for them.

Education and Training

Because of the wide range of hotels, there is no set route to becoming a hotel manager.

For most large hotels or hotel groups, applicants usually need at least an HNC/HND, and many enter with a degree or postgraduate qualification. The options include Foundation degrees and HNDs, which usually take two years full-time, national diplomas and HNCs, which take one or two years, or degrees, which can take three or four years.

Some people may start without a degree or HND and work their way up through other hotel jobs, combining on-the-job training with taking external courses.

Many hotel companies have structured 'fast track' training schemes open either to graduates or to existing employees.

Experience in work such as catering or retail can be useful, as can knowledge of a foreign language.

Relevant degrees include hospitality management and international hospitality management, hotel and catering management, and hotel, tourism and licensed retail management. Business degrees - perhaps including hospitality, tourism or marketing - are another option.

The minimum qualifications are:

  • For a degree: a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications. Some require particular subjects and grades.
  • For BTEC/SQA HNC's/HND's: a minimum of one A level/two H grades and four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.
  • For BTEC national awards: four or five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications.
  • There are no set requirements for Foundation degrees, so check with the individual college or university.

People who already have a degree in another subject can take a one-year degree conversion course in hotel and catering management, or a graduate Apprenticeship.

Some of the large hotel chains develop their management staff from programmes such as Advanced Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Much of the training is on the job, and involves gaining experience in different areas of the business.

Trainees may start work at a lower level on the career ladder, working towards NVQ's/SVQ's, including NVQ's/SVQ's in Catering and Hospitality Levels 1 and 2, leading on to Supervisory Management at Level 3.

The Hotel and Catering International Management Association is also developing new qualifications - check their website for information.

Some hotel managers take postgraduate courses, full or part time, which can help with their career prospects.

Graduate training programmes may take between one and two years and involve getting to know the various aspects of the hotel, including food and drink management, accommodation management, conferences and banqueting, financial control, human resources and marketing. Trainees may need to be prepared to work in different hotels within the group.

Training is also likely to include specialised courses in health and safety, finance, marketing and human resources.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Hotel managers need:

  • All round business skills.
  • To be excellent organisers and problem-solvers.
  • The ability to motivate and lead staff.
  • To be friendly, helpful and tactful with guests.
  • To be good negotiators - for getting the best deals from suppliers, for example.
  • To use their initiative.
  • Good written and spoken communication skills.
  • Marketing ability.
  • To think on their feet and stay calm in a crisis.
  • Energy and enthusiasm.
  • An outgoing personality.
  • A smart appearance.
  • Foreign language skills when working in some of the larger hotel chains.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion prospects depend on the size of the hotel and the individual's skills and experience. It can take many years to work through posts such as assistant front-of-house manager to deputy manager and then manager. However, a talented trainee on a fast-track training scheme could get into a management job within three to five years.

In a hotel chain, a manager might specialise in an aspect of the business such as group marketing or training. This may involve studying for extra qualifications.

Managers who are flexible and willing to relocate increase their promotion opportunities.

With experience, managers can open their own hotel or move into other areas of business.

Get Further Information

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
Website: www.people1st.co.uk

Hotel & Catering International
Management Association,
Trinity Court, 34 West Street,
Sutton, Surrey SM1 1SH
Tel: 020 8661 4900
Website: www.hcima.org.uk

Springboard UK Limited,
3 Denmark Street,
London WC2H 8LP
Tel: 020 7395 9497
Website: www.springboarduk.org.uk
(Regional addresses are listed on the website.)

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