How to Become a Hotel Manager

Get the steps you may need to become a hotel manager, from education to experience to certifications. Discover the types of hotels and hotel managers.

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July 31, 2023 13 min read

Hotels are fascinating hubs where people from all over the world converge. These travelers need a comfortable, clean place to sleep, as well as food and beverage options. They need advice on what to do while they’re in town, and they may need services like dry cleaning and safe storage of their valuables. In other words, they need a temporary home.

In a few days, they’ll be on their way, and an entirely new set of travelers will “move in.”

Hotels have innumerable moving parts, and each department must run smoothly day in and day out to give each guest a great experience. The key to holding it all together? Capable hotel managers.

If this sounds like the career and environment for you, here’s what you need to know about how to become a hotel manager.

Table of Contents

What Does a Hotel Manager Do?

There are many types of hotel managers, which we’ll discuss shortly. Some hotel managers are specialized, focusing on a specific department like Food & Beverage or the Front Desk. Others, especially at boutique hotels, will be responsible for a bit of everything. These responsibilities could include:

  • Recruiting, training, and managing the rest of the staff
  • Setting budgets, determining sales goals, and forecasting income
  • Maintaining required licenses and permits for the property and its staff members
  • Addressing guest requests and complaints
  • Organizing building maintenance work
  • Overseeing private events like conferences and weddings
  • Leading sales and marketing activities
  • Maintaining health and safety standards

And through all of that, they must also be a frequent presence throughout the hotel, available for staff and guests to answer questions or satisfy requests.

Also remember—hotels never close! They’re open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some hotel managers may be on call during nights, weekends, and holidays. But that can mean there is a great deal of flexibility in the hours you could work. Night owl? You may just have the makings of a night manager.

So how can you learn all the skills you may need in your quest to become a hotel manager? An education that focuses on hospitality management can be a great place to start.

Ashley Godfrey“In my experience as a hotel manager, it is so rewarding to welcome guests to your property and ensure they feel like they are at their “home away from home”!”*
Professor Ashley Godfrey, Escoffier Instructor

Five Steps to Becoming a Hotel Manager

1. Get Your Education in Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management

As you can tell, there is a lot on a hotel manager’s plate. A comprehensive education in hospitality management may help you to become a valuable asset to a hotel, keeping customers happy and protecting the hotel’s bottom line all at once.

Escoffier’s Hospitality and Restaurant Operations Management degree program is designed to help you to approach management from two vital angles—the customer service side and the business side.*

Female student taking notes while looking at computer with earphones

With an online program, aspiring hotel managers can get their education from home.

The curriculum is bursting with valuable information, from finance to facility operations to psychology. The Cost Control and Purchasing course, for example, discusses managing inventory, creating sales forecasts, and controlling product and labor costs. A smooth purchasing flow can prevent over-ordering or wasted product. And Foodservice Math & Accounting can help students understand income statements and analyze profit and loss sheets. With a clear view of the numbers, hotel managers can help steer their companies to profitability.

Chef Maria Davenport“Our students are taught the financial aspects of running a successful hospitality operation. Being able to apply this knowledge in the workplace can make them valued employees.”*
Chef Maria Davenport, Escoffier Hospitality & Restaurant Management Instructor

In the Business and Professional Communications course, students can explore listening skills, verbal and nonverbal communication, conflict resolution, and more skills that could help foster their communication with both employees and guests. In Professionalism and Service Standards, students may study guest service techniques to help them provide the high standard of service that luxury hotel guests are used to. And Introduction to Psychology in the Workplace may help students to predict employee and guest behavior so they can help prevent conflict before it starts.

To make it accessible, this program can be completed 100% online with an in-person industry externship. When you’re earning your degree in hospitality online, you can study from home without commuting or relocating. And you can complete your coursework on your own schedule, as long as you meet program deadlines. This means you may continue to work full-time or meet family obligations while you get your education.

Upon completion of their programs, students are eligible for their first entry-level job in hospitality management. With this education, some graduates may find that they can progress through the ranks more quickly than other managers without a hospitality degree.*

2. Complete an Industry Externship

Education lays a solid foundation for a future in hotel management. Experience in the field is another key component. For their final block, Escoffier students complete an in-person industry externship where they can build on what they learned in school and start to explore possible career paths. This is their chance to get a look at how a hotel really operates and put what they’ve been learning in class to the test. These real industry externships let students make connections with experienced colleagues and grow their professional network.

Chef Maria Davenport“The externship class allows students—even those with no prior experience—to get their foot in the door. Once they gain that valuable experience, it is easier for them to determine which path they want to take with their careers.”*
Chef Maria Davenport, Escoffier Hospitality & Restaurant Management Instructor

3. Getting Your First Hotel Job

After the externship, graduates can consider their next steps. Escoffier Connect is the perfect place to start looking! This platform connects job seekers with career-oriented employers who invest in the professional growth of their teams.

At Escoffier, we work closely with our graduates to help them reach their goals, even after graduation day. With Career Services support, graduates can find help with resume writing, interview preparation, and networking opportunities.

If your dream job isn’t available right away, don’t fret. Hotels often promote from within. So if you can get your foot in the door with another position, you’re one step closer to that hotel management job you’re after.

Hotel receptionist smiles while talking on the phone and looking at the computer at the front desk

A front desk role could be a stepping-stone to a hotel management position.

4. Climb the Ladder to Where You Want to Be

Some people who show promise are lucky enough to be hired in junior management roles right away. But it’s much more common to start with a more entry-level role and climb your way to management.

What could this look like for you? There are many entry-level positions in hotels, like:

  • Porter
  • Front desk clerk
  • Housekeeping staff/room attendant
  • Server or host in hotel restaurants
  • Banquet staff for events

When applying for your first hotel job, consider your ideal managerial role. If you want to be a Banquet Manager, for example, then a position as a banquet server is a great place to start.

Next, it’s a matter of excelling in your role, and making sure that your supervisors know that you have managerial ambitions. They may be able to give you some guidance, making recommendations for skills to improve or the next position you should aim for.

A housekeeper taking towels and soap from her cart to place in a room

An entry-level housekeeping role could get your foot in the door of the hotel industry.

5. Pursue Certifications

While formal certifications aren’t required to become a hotel manager, they (along with an associate degree) may help you to prove that you’re serious about your future in hotels. The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute offers certifications all along the hotel hierarchy.

Newer hotel employees could complete the Certified Front Desk Representative (CFDR) program, while a manager could take the Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS) exam. With these letters on your resume, you show that you’re invested in your growth in the hotel industry.

Types of Hotel Managers

Small and large hotels will have very different management hierarchies, with the biggest hotels spreading the work over an extensive managerial staff. Here are some of the common hotel manager roles.

General Manager

The General Manager (GM) oversees the rest of the management team and handles the hotel’s operations and finances. They are the captain of the ship, so to speak.

Food & Beverage Manager

Most hotels have some kind of food service. This may include a lobby bar, hotel restaurant, and room service. The Food & Beverage (F&B) Manager oversees the hotel’s dining and drinking options. Since F&B can make up an average of 25% of a hotel’s revenue, a focus on the food is an important part of a hotel’s success.1 At Escoffier, students can complete a course in Menu Design & Management to help them develop profitable menus.*

Banquet Manager

If a hotel has conference rooms or ballrooms for private events, they may be under the jurisdiction of the banquet manager. This person will manage catering and operations for weddings and corporate events. Escoffier’s Catering & Event Operations course may help students to manage successful and profitable private parties.

Hotel manager stands in a banquet hall holding a tablet

A banquet manager may help to coordinate weddings, private parties, and conferences.

Front Desk Manager

This manager supervises the front desk staff. Their job is to ensure excellent customer service during check-in and check-out, oversee room assignments, and respond to guest requests. They may also be responsible for managing concierge and valet staff.

Ashley Godfrey“The Front Desk is the catch-all for complaints at a hotel so managers must be able to problem solve quickly. Students learn guest service techniques on how to deal with complaints throughout their classes.”*
Professor Ashley Godfrey, Escoffier Instructor

Sales & Marketing Manager

The Sales & Marketing Manager is focused on bringing in more guests and increasing revenue. Every empty room is lost potential income! So they may come up with marketing campaigns and special deals to boost slow times of year. They may also be responsible for private event bookings or meeting room rentals.

Housekeeping Manager

Hotel rooms must be lightly cleaned during a guest’s stay, and fully “turned over” between each group of guests. The Housekeeping Manager will oversee the housekeeping staff and make sure they’re cleaning rooms to a high standard.

Hotel service housekeeping workers and manager in a hotel room

The housekeeping manager is responsible for cleanliness of guest rooms and public spaces.

Boutiques vs. Value Hotels vs. Luxury Hotels

While all hotels have the same basic function, there are major differences between different hotel markets, offerings, and price points. You could work at many of these different establishments throughout your career, learning new skills at each.

Boutique Hotels

Boutique hotels are usually intimate, offering between 10 and 100 rooms. They are also unique. Even if they belong to a boutique chain, each hotel offers its own distinct atmosphere and amenities.

Since boutique hotels are small, they have fewer staff members. Therefore, hotel managers may have housekeeping, front desk, and sales responsibilities all rolled into one role! So those who want to work in boutiques might want an education that covers the fundamentals of customer service, F&B, cost control, facility operations, and more.

Ashley Godfrey“Escoffier’s program is ideal for learning all the necessary skills you need for owning and operating a boutique or bed and breakfast. While learning the restaurant side you also get the management classes that are essential as well!”*
Professor Ashley Godfrey, Escoffier Instructor

Getting a hospitality degree from Escoffier can help you develop the range of skills you may need to work in a boutique hotel. Coursework may help students to become effective leaders and communicators, while keeping a close eye on the hotel’s costs and income.

Young woman working on a laptop at the check-in desk of a hotel

Boutique hotel managers may do a bit of everything.

Value Hotels

Value hotels are usually part of large national chains. They don’t offer luxury amenities, focusing instead on providing a comfortable, pleasant guest experience at a reasonable price. The hotel’s corporate office will often make marketing and major brand decisions, while the GM will focus on the day-to-day operations of the hotel.

These hotels find success in highly efficient and cost-effective systems. Leadership will be key here, so you can keep the entire staff running like a well-oiled machine.

Luxury Hotels & Resorts

Luxury hotels and resorts are defined by the way they pamper their guests. These high-end establishments may have golf courses, multiple pools, spas, and several fine dining restaurants. They have to accomplish the same tasks as a value hotel, but must do it to a very high standard. You’ll have to be a customer service master to become a luxury hotel manager, with highly effective communication skills.

Chef Maria Davenport“A strong educational background can help someone with limited experience become a valued contributor to their employer. They can utilize the skills taught at Escoffier to work their way into a management position.”*
Chef Maria Davenport, Escoffier Hospitality & Restaurant Management Instructor

Turn Your Dreams into Plans

Managing a hotel is fast-paced and customer-focused. If you’re a problem solver who loves to think on your feet, this could be the career for you!

Ashley Godfrey“No two days are ever the same at a hotel! I enjoyed meeting different guests from all around the world and ensuring they had a wonderful stay at my hotel.”*
Professor Ashley Godfrey, Escoffier Instructor

Escoffier graduates have worked with well-known brands like Hyatt Hotels, Omni Hotels, and the Ritz-Carlton. Some have even worked at national park lodgings. Imagine making your living at Grand Tetons or Yellowstone!*

Whatever your goal, it can start with a foundational education and that first job. Whether you begin as a manager or answering phones at the front desk, your commitment to your education can prove that you’re serious about hotel management.

If you’re feeling that pull, it’s time to explore it! Contact us today to see how an Escoffier education in Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management could turn your dreams into plans.

Explore more careers in hospitality and the culinary arts with these articles:

This article was originally published on February 18, 2022, and has since been updated.

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

1https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4087967.html

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