To an outsider, the job of hotel manager might appear both glamorous and stressful. The manager works and lives in a location people might choose to visit; however, he is not vacationing, but rather is accommodating the travel plans of others. Tourism is big business -- an employer of many and a profitable industry -- and tourism could not flourish without the lodging business. In 2008, hotel managers supervised more than 4.6 million guest rooms in the United States, generating $140.6 billion in revenue, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
Education and Training
In the past, a hotel manager commonly was promoted from within the organization itself. These days, a strong applicant for the position may need formal education in addition to the hands-on job experience. This could add years and expense to the career track; however, that education need not be a bachelor’s degree in hotel management. An employer might also favor a liberal-arts degree plus completion of some hotel-management courses, a qualifying associate degree or certificate in hotel management, or successful completion of a training program sponsored by the hotel chain. Also, someone with the correct education can expect to begin at the level and pay of assistant manager, instead of working his way up from the bottom of the hotel-worker food chain.
The job title might seem narrow, but job settings can be surprisingly diverse. A hotel manager -- or lodging manager -- can supervise a large or small hotel in a large or small hotel chain, own or manage a bed-and-breakfast or an inn, operate a dude ranch, manage a park for guests with recreational vehicles and campers, supervise a boarding house, or run a beach resort or ski lodge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of lodging managers was expected to grow more slowly than average from 2008 to 2018, so competition for desirable positions would be fierce. However, applicants with college degrees will stand out relative to those lacking them.
Hotel managers work long hours and weekends, often under stressful conditions that require quick thinking, resourcefulness, diplomacy and communication skills. Depending on a guest’s complaint or glowing satisfaction, customer-service responsibilities can prove infuriating, challenging or rewarding. A manager, by definition, also supervises, organizes and delegates the work of employees. This involves complex decisions on everything from handling finances, to organizing a convention, to fixing plumbing disasters and changing décor. Very often, a career promotion in this industry means relocating to another hotel in another town.
Pay varies depending on the type and size of employer and the employee’s job responsibilities. In 2008, the annual salary for a lodging manager averaged at just under $46,000, with the lowest-earning 10 percent making less than $28,160 and the highest clearing more than $84,270. Many employers offer bonuses, free training or profit-sharing in addition to that salary. Also, given the nature of the job, lodging, meals, laundry and other perks might be free or discounted.