How to Become a Hotel Manager

Aine Hendron
16 Jun 2021

If you love hospitality and think you’re a natural-born leader, hotel management might be for you. Luckily, we have written a free guide on how to become a hotel manager.

This guide tells you all you need to know: how to enter the role, the day-to-day tasks, average hours and salary, industry-specific leadership and management tips and resources on how to excel in the role, and how to stand apart from other candidates. 

How to become a hotel manager

A hotel manager has a lot of responsibilities. Staff turn to managers for guidance, the business relies on them to raise efficiency and productivity, and guests will rely on managers to resolve any issues in service. 

Some hotels will have a more structured management team, rather than relying on one person to oversee all operations. A general manager, with several department managers under them, is one common structure. There may be managers dedicated to each of the following tasks: housekeeping, reception and guest services, food & beverage, and events and banqueting [1]. 

There are two main ways to become a hotel manager: working your way up and being hired as an external candidate. 

Internal promotion

Hotels are well known for having high turnover rates. In 2021, employee resignation rates for the hotel sector were thought to be between 60-300% [2]. 

Despite this, many hotel managers are appointed from within, from positions such as as concierges or front desk receptionists. Usually, staff will have to gain experience over several years before being promoted to manager in larger hotel chains.

Aside from the qualifications needed to land your initial position, certain hotels will not expect staff to have a degree in a subject related to hotel management. Instead, they will often offer a management training program to candidates who have worked their way up. These courses are typically focused on budgets and finance, things that junior employees have little experience with due to their role. Training programs usually also cover a lot of health and safety training. Since the safety of hotel visitors is one of the most important factors within the hotel business, upholding this will be part of the manager’s duties. 

External appointment

Particularly within smaller or independent hotels, managers are sought from the outside. Typically, a college degree is expected from those entering the role directly. 

Common courses studies by hotel managers include: 

  • business studies
  • hotel management
  • hospitality and leisure management
  • travel and tourism

Other previous management experience is also advantageous, as is knowledge or training in food hygiene. 

Your personal skill-set, personality and qualities are also important factors.

Skills and attributes 

Regardless of whether you are applying for a hotel manager role from inside or outside the hotel, your personal skills and qualities will play a keen role in the selection process.

Management and leadership come with huge amounts of responsibility, so you should be able to work under pressure, have sound reasoning and analytical skills, and be a confident decision maker. Being a resourceful and logical problem solver is also vital, as liability lies with you as the manager, if something goes wrong.

To lead a team you should be a part of the team, therefore successful managers will be compassionate and understanding towards staff, with the ability to communicate with good listening skills. 

Interpersonal skills are essential for keeping both staff and guests content and comfortable. 

What to expect when working as a hotel manager

The role

This guide focuses on the role of an independent manager, whose general manager and department manager responsibilities are rolled into one. Additionally, it should be noted that all hotels operate differently and do not follow the exact same regulations or procedures. Some responsibilities typically expected from a hotel manager include:

  • Having involvement in the recruitment process
  • Ensuring staff are trained, or delegating training and on-boarding to others
  • Promoting the safety and well-being of staff and guests
  • Organizing building maintenance and renovations
  • Managing hotel budgets - maximizing income and reducing unnecessary expenditures when possible
  • Deciding which POS and booking system are most effective for the hotel
  • Overseeing food and beverage safety alongside the head chef
  • Resolving customer complaints and booking/accommodation issues
  • Signing off on special events, promotional offers and guest discounts

The salary

The starting salary for a hotel manager in the US is approximately US$54,325, and can be up to $175,951 for more experienced managers [3].

Your salary greatly depends on a number of factors: your experience and qualifications, how you acquired the role, whether or not you are working as the sole manager, or part of a wider management team, the size of the hotel, its location, and whether or not it is a luxury accommodation or a low-budget premise.

The shift pattern

Hotels are a 24/7, 365 business. Shift patterns can vary massively depending on the specific hotel. You should expect to work long, late hours, including evenings and weekends, [4] to meet the demands of guests attending for public holidays. However, some managers do work a set 9am-5pm schedule [5]. This is subject to the experience and seniority of other members of staff, and whether or not there is a night manager for the hotel. 

How to stand out as a candidate: guides and resources

The unemployment rate for hotel managers is extremely low, only 2.7% in 2018 [6]. This doesn't mean that there will be no competition when it comes to applying for a hotel manager position, though. In order to stand out from the crowd you will need to be savvy, and have good knowledge of the industry itself, and the technology and systems used in hotels. 

Understand the technology

Each hotel will operate with different technology, systems and have their own practices. Some systems you might experience include: 

  • The guest booking system
  • Staff scheduling platform, staff holiday and time-off approval platforms 
  • Payment processing systems
  • Accounting and budgeting software
  • If you work within a hotel chain, there may be systems which that connect to sister/parent hotels 
  • IT department, and repair and maintenance contact information

Of course, all of these operations, and more, can be handled by the Epos Now Hotel System. Using an effective POS / booking and reservation system will take a lot of the heavy lifting out of your managerial role. Things like budgets, peak times, promotional offers and more can all be monitored and managed through the hotel system. 

Hotel manager and owner guides

Epos Now have a full library of resources dedicated to those working in the hospitality industry on our website. Here some of our sought after guides and case studies for hotel managers: