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Challenges for a Hotel General Manager

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Hotel general managers are the public faces of their businesses. As a result, the manager is expected to be cheerful and unflappable, regardless of the situation. While hotels strive to cultivate an accommodating environment, managers confront numerous stresses behind the scenes. Difficult customers, unconventional schedules and the pressure to turn a profit in a competitive industry are just some of the challenges hotel managers handle on a regular basis.

Cost Containment

Hotel managers are expected to practice aggressive cost management to boost the bottom line. However, satisfying customer desires for round-the-clock amenities is a costly proposition. That's because the continual operation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems represents one of a hotel property's biggest budget items. HVAC accounted for more than 50 percent of the hospitality industry's energy costs, a 2006 IVA Communications analysis indicates. Managers must also consider the impact of taxes on the business, plus increases in construction, payroll and technology costs.

Customer-Staff Relations

Superior interpersonal skills are crucial for success, since managers handle all types of people and situations. Hotel managers must show grace under pressure in dealing with angry guests or emergency situations. Managers need similar qualities in leading and training employees -- especially in smaller hotels, where everyone is responsible for multiple tasks. A keen organizational sense is also required to deal with special events like conventions, large parties and celebrity guest arrivals.

Fewer Job Opportunities

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an 8 percent growth in demand for hotel managers between 2010 and 2020 -- slower than the 14 percent average for all other occupations. One reason is a shift toward limited-service hotels and fewer full-service properties with separate departments. Larger operations have also reacted by reducing the number of managers. For example, many chain hotels now require a single manager to oversee multiple properties within a region. Overall, these trends mean fewer opportunities for managers.

Irregular Schedules

Unconventional schedules and work hours are the norm in the lodging industry, since service runs around the clock. Evening and weekend hours aren't unusual, and some managers may be on call on a 24-hour basis, the BLS notes. If you're not around to run the business yourself, you'll still need a different manager to cover the day-to-day tasks. Time-management skills are important, too, since even managers working a 9-to-5 schedule may be called to handle emergencies.

Safety and Security

Hotel managers must strike a balance between providing an open environment with providing one that ensures its guests' safety and security. A hotel taking this approach would require its security personnel to wear suits and ties, for example, instead of military or police uniforms. Managers must use similar discretion in barring non-guests and disorderly persons from the property. Managers also have to train staff in monitoring suspicious behavior and operating security devices without encroaching on guests' safety or comfort.


Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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