Long hours, including night and weekend work, are common.
Employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average
for all occupations.
College graduates with degrees in hotel or hospitality management
should have the best job opportunities.
Nature of the Work
A comfortable room, good food, and a helpful staff can make
being away from home an enjoyable experience for both vacationing
families and business travelers. While most lodging managers
work in traditional hotels and motels, some work in other lodging
establishments, such as camps, inns, boardinghouses, dude ranches,
and recreational resorts. In full-service hotels, lodging managers
help their guests have a pleasant stay by providing many of
the comforts of home, including cable television, fitness equipment,
and voice mail, as well as specialized services such as health
spas. For business travelers, lodging managers often schedule
available meeting rooms and electronic equipment, including
slide projectors and fax machines.
Lodging managers are responsible for keeping their establishments
efficient and profitable. In a small establishment with a limited
staff, the manager may oversee all aspects of operations. However,
large hotels may employ hundreds of workers, and the general
manager usually is aided by a number of assistant managers assigned
to the various departments of the operation. In hotels of every
size, managerial duties vary significantly by job title.
General managers have 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 ensures expected standards for guest service,
decor, housekeeping, food quality, and banquet operations. Managers
who work for chains also may 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 entry-level
service and clerical jobs in hotels, some managers attend career
Resident or hotel managers are responsible for the day-to-day
operations of the property. In larger properties, more than
one of these managers may assist the general manager, frequently
dividing responsibilities between the food and beverage operations
and the rooms or lodging services. At least one manager, either
the general manager or a hotel manager, is on call 24 hours
a day to resolve problems or emergencies.
Assistant managers help run the day-to-day operations
of the hotel. In large hotels, they may be responsible for activities
such as personnel, accounting, office administration, marketing
and sales, purchasing, security, maintenance, and pool, spa,
or recreational facilities. In smaller hotels, these duties
may be combined into one position. Assistant managers may adjust
charges on a hotel guest’s bill when a manager is unavailable.
An Executive Committee madeup of a hotel’s senior
managers advises the general manager, assists in setting hotel
policy, coordinates services that cross departmental boundaries,
and collaborates on efforts to ensure consistent and efficient
guest services throughout the hotel. The Committee may be comprised
of the department heads for housekeeping, front office, food
and beverage, security, sales and public relations, meetings
and conventions, engineering and building maintenance, and human
resources. Executive committee members bring a different perspective
of guest service to the total management objective reflecting
the unique expertise and training of their positions.
Executive housekeepers ensure that guest rooms, meeting
and banquet rooms, and public areas are clean, orderly, and
well maintained. They also 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 that guests are treated courteously, complaints
and problems are resolved, and requests for special services
are carried out. Front office managers may adjust charges posted
on a customer’s bill.
Convention services managers coordinate the activities
of various departments in larger hotels to accommodate 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 the meeting space, and banquet
services. During the meeting or event, they resolve unexpected
problems and monitor activities to ensure that hotel operations
conform to the expectations of the group.
Food and beverage managers oversee all food service
operations maintained by the hotel. They coordinate menus with
the Executive Chef for the hotel’s restaurants, lounges, and
room service operations. They supervise the ordering of food
and supplies, direct service and maintenance contracts within
the kitchens and dining areas, and manage food service budgets.
Catering managers arrange for food service in a hotel’s
meeting and convention rooms. They coordinate menus and costs
for banquets, parties, and events with meeting and convention
planners or individual clients. They coordinate staffing needs
and arrange schedules with kitchen personnel to ensure appropriate
Sales or marketing directors and public relations
directors oversee the advertising and promotion of hotel
operations and functions, including lodging and dining specials
and special events, such as holiday or seasonal specials. They
direct the efforts of their staff to purchase advertising and
market their property to organizations or groups seeking a venue
for conferences, conventions, business meetings, trade shows,
and special events. They also coordinate media relations and
answer questions from the press.
Human Resources Directors manage the personnel functions of
a hotel, ensuring that all accounting, payroll, and employee
relation matters are handled in compliance with hotel policy
and applicable laws. They also oversee hiring practices and
standards and ensure that training and promotion programs reflect
appropriate employee development guidelines.
Finance (or Revenue) Directors monitor room sales and
reservations. In addition to overseeing accounting and cash-flow
matters at the hotel, they also project occupancy levels, decide
which rooms to discount and when to offer rate specials.
Computers are used extensively by lodging managers and their
assistants to keep track of guests’ bills, reservations, room
assignments, meetings, and special events. In addition, computers
are used to order food, beverages, and supplies, as well as
to 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 continue to meet the needs of hotel
guests and staff.
Because hotels are open around the clock, night and weekend
work is common. Many lodging and hotel managers work more than
40 hours per week, and may be called back to work at any time.
Some managers of resort properties or other hotels where much
of the business is seasonal have other duties on the property
during the off-season or find work at other hotels or in other
Lodging managers experience the pressures of coordinating a
wide range of activities. At larger hotels, they also carry
the burden of managing a large staff and finding a way to satisfy
guest needs while maintaining positive attitudes and employee
morale. Conventions and large groups of tourists may present
unusual problems or require extended work hours. Moreover, dealing
with irate guests can be stressful. The job can be particularly
hectic for front office managers during check-in and check-out
times. Computer failures can further complicate processing and
add to frustration levels.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Hotels increasingly emphasize specialized training. Postsecondary
training in hotel, restaurant, or hospitality management is
preferred for most hotel management positions; however, a college
liberal arts degree may be sufficient when coupled with related
hotel experience or business education. Internships or part-time
or summer work experience in a hotel are an asset to students
seeking a career in hotel management. The experience gained
and the contacts made with employers can greatly benefit students
after graduation. Most degree programs include work-study opportunities.
Community colleges, junior colleges, and many universities
offer certificate or degree programs in hotel, restaurant, or
hospitality management leading to an associate, bachelor, or
graduate degree. Technical institutes, vocational and trade
schools, and other academic institutions also offer courses
leading to formal recognition in hospitality management. In
total, more than 800 educational facilities provide academic
training for would-be lodging managers. Hotel management programs
include instruction in hotel administration, accounting, economics,
marketing, housekeeping, food service management and catering,
and hotel maintenance engineering. Computer training also is
an integral part of hotel management training, due to the widespread
use of computers in reservations, billing, and housekeeping
More than 450 high schools in 45 States offer the Lodging Management
Program created by the Educational Institute of the American
Hotel and Lodging Association. This two-year program offered
to high school juniors and seniors teaches management principles
and leads to a professional certification called the “Certified
Rooms Division Specialist.” Many colleges and universities grant
participants credit towards a post-secondary degree in hotel
Lodging managers must be able to get along with many different
types of people, even in stressful situations. They must be
able to solve problems and concentrate on details. Initiative,
self-discipline, effective communication skills, and the ability
to organize and direct the work of others also are essential
for managers at all levels.
Persons wishing to make a career in the hospitality industry
may be promoted into a management trainee position sponsored
by the hotel or a hotel chain’s corporate parent. Typically,
trainees work as assistant managers and may rotate assignments
among the hotel’s departments—front office, housekeeping, or
food and beverage—to gain a wide range of experiences. Relocation
to another property may be required to help round out the experience
and to help grow a trainee into the position.
Work experience in the hospitality industry at any level or
in any segment, including summer jobs or part-time work in a
hotel or restaurant, is good background for entering hotel management.
Most employers require a bachelor’s degree with some education
in business and computer literacy, while some prefer a master’s
degree for hotel management positions. However, employees who
demonstrate leadership potential and possess sufficient length
or breadth of experience may be invited to participate in a
management training program and advance to hotel management
positions without the education beyond high school.
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. Career advancement
can be accelerated by the completion of certification programs
offered by various associations. These programs usually require
a combination of course work, examinations, and experience.
For example, outstanding lodging managers may advance to higher
level manager positions. (For more information, see the material
on top executives elsewhere
in the Handbook.)
Lodging managers held about 58,000 jobs in 2004. Self-employed
managers—primarily owners of small hotels, motels, and inns—held
about 45 percent of these jobs. Companies that manage hotels
and motels under contract employed many managers.
Employment of lodgin and hotel managers is expected to grow
about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014.
Additional job openings are expected to occur as experienced
managers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force,
in part because of the long hours and stressful working conditions.
Job opportunities are expected to be best for persons with college
degrees in hotel or hospitality management.
Renewed business travel and domestic and foreign tourism will
drive employment growth of lodging and hotel managers in full-service
hotels. The numbers of economy-class rooms and extended-stay
hotels also are expected to increase to accommodate leisure
travelers and bargain-conscious guests. An increasing range
of lodging accommodations is available to travelers, from economy
hotels which offer clean, comfortable rooms and front desk services
without costly extras such as restaurants and room service,
to luxury and boutique inns that offer sumptuous furnishings
and personal services. The accommodation industry is expected
to continue to consolidate as lodging chains acquire independently
owned establishments or undertake their operation on a contract
basis. The increasing number of extended-stay hotels will moderate
growth of manager jobs because these properties usually have
fewer departments and require fewer managers. Also, these establishments
often do not require a manager to be available 24 hours a day,
instead assigning front desk clerks on duty at night some of
the responsibilities previously reserved for managers.
Additional demand for managers is expected in suite hotels,
because some guests—especially business customers—are willing
to pay higher prices for rooms with kitchens and suites that
provide the space needed to conduct small meetings. In addition,
large full-service hotels—offering restaurants, fitness centers,
large meeting rooms, and play areas for children, among other
amenities—will continue to provide many trainee and managerial
Median annual earnings of lodging managers were $37,660 in
May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $28,640 and $51,030.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,680, while the highest
10 percent earned more than $72,160. Median annual earnings
for lodging managers in traveler accommodations were $37,420.
Salaries of lodging managers vary greatly according to their
responsibilities and the segment of the hotel industry in which
they are employed, as well as the location and region where
the hotel is located. Managers may earn bonuses of up to 25
percent of their basic salary in some hotels and also may be
furnished with meals, parking, laundry, and other services.
In addition to providing typical benefits, some hotels offer
profit-sharing plans and educational assistance to their employees.
Other occupations concerned with organizing and directing a
business in which customer service is the cornerstone of their
success include food service managers, gaming managers, sales
worker supervisors, and property, real estate, and community
association managers. See the Career
Database for more information on these careers.
Sources of Additional Information
For information on careers and scholarships in hotel management,
American Hotel and Lodging Association, 1201 New York Ave.
NW., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005-3931.
Information on careers in the lodging industry and professional
development and training programs may be obtained from:
Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging
Association, 800 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 1800, Orlando, FL
32853-1126. Internet: http://www.ei-ahla.org/
For information on educational programs in hotel and restaurant
management, including correspondence courses, write to:
International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional
Education, 2613 North Parham Rd., 2nd Floor, Richmond, VA
23294-4442. Internet: http://www.chrie.org/
Source: Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook
Handbook, 2006-07 Edition