The Real Poop
A television comes hurtling out of the 37th floor penthouse room window. It is immediately followed by a sting of cursing and the stench of bourbon. It’s your responsibility. An undercover reporter takes a black light to the carpet and it glows like a Jackson Pollock painting. You get the call to handle it. The local emergency room is flooded with patients puking their guts out. Each ordered today’s special “Blackened Cod.” Take care of it.
Who is this person in charge of seemingly every aspect of… everything? What position (outside of something resembling God’s job description) could put you in charge of a small village worth of strangers and their business, eating, sleeping and travel arrangements? We’re talking about a Hotel Manager of course.
We have all stayed in hotels. We’ve had either wonderful, customer-for-life experiences or harrowing (or revolting) encounters. Encounters which left us squealing out the Psycho shower scene noises “eee eee eee eee.” Whatever the case, the Hotel Manager is responsible for it.
The world travels a lot. And whether for business or pleasure, travelers need a place to sleep. The most recent counts put the number of hotel rooms worldwide at something like 13.5 million. That’s 13.5 million beds that need to be made, showers that need to be cleaned, toilet paper rolls that need to be threaded onto holders (with the loose end on the top or bottom telling a lot about your personality), and mints that need to be left on pillows. Some of those mints will be unwrapped and eaten by presidents, movie stars and business moguls. Some will be devoured by cockroaches. It all depends on the Hotel Manager.
Sure, it sounds like a ton of pressure. The business never closes, caters to picky clients’ most personal needs, and is expected to be spotless. Know how hard it is to clean your whole house? Try being responsible for 50 houses. Or 500. Not only do you need to worry about clean sheets, but you order the flowers for the lobby, you oversee the kitchen, you make sure the fountain out front is burbling serenely and the spa is filled with the scent of eucalyptus and the VIP rock and roll band on the 37th floor has their bowl of M&M’s (red ones removed) and pitchers of Himalayan spring water. It’s a big deal, a “smells of rich mahogany” kind of big deal.
Add to this the fact that “Hotel Manager” is a pretty broad term when, in fact, many larger hotels may have an Advertising Manager, Staff Manager, Manager of Cuisine, Revenue Manager and more. But there will always be one Manager to rule them all. One Manager to find them. One Manager to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. Sorry, we got carried away. No binding in the job description, but lots of attention to detail is definitely needed.
In fact, attention to detail and a drive to make clients happy are probably the two most critical characteristics a Hotel Manager can have. If you can’t stand the thought of catering to someone’s complaints in the middle of the night, look elsewhere. Don’t really notice that your bathtub hasn’t been scrubbed in a year? Hotel Manager may not be for you (although Motel Manager can be a different story).
You are also going to need to be a people person. You are going to really, truly need to enjoy and be good at working with people. A successful Hotel Manager runs a business of making people happy – and it takes a lot of other people to do that. And you will be in charge of everyone. A good portion of your day will be spent on rounds, observing how well the hotel is running, greeting customers, checking in on staff. And meetings – there’s lots of those. You will have meetings in the morning with the kitchen staff and chefs. You will meet with housekeeping. You’ll meet with marketing and accounting. Don’t forget all of the assistant managers – you’ll meet with them too.
These are just the internal aspects of running a successful hotel. Good managers also need to be sure that the outside world knows all about how great they are. Getting the word out about your hotel to drum up business takes marketing and social media savvy. You want potential guests to see your hotel associated with positive reviews and to have access to your reservation system through multiple websites, magazines and emails. It takes mad marketing skills to do this well.
You also have to understand... well, basic math. Here's some Hotel 101 from the financial ledger side. You have a building with 200 rooms. They rent for $200 a night. So every night, if you're full, the hotel should produce in rent about $40,000. (And wayyyy more than that if people buy a lot of those $14.95 boxes of almonds that cost you a buck.) Yeah, there's some cost to cleaning a room and replacing stolen towels (but there's also those nuts... and room service and adult movie rentals. Definitely covers towel cost.) So for every night that a room stays empty, your hotel is losing $200. And change. And over the course of a year – and in Hotel World there really are 365 sellable units a year – we’re talking revenues of $14.6 million. Big bucks. Lotta responsibility. Good luck with that.
With so many aspects to the business, a hotel is sort of like a small town, which would make you governor of that town. Or king. Or queen. Always wanted to be royalty? Then maybe Hotel Manager is perfect for you.
So how can you get there? What does it take for you to ascend to the throne of running a hotel? Back in the day, the path to becoming Manager was to learn all the different facets of the job by working them. Hotel Managers started scraping spaghetti Bolognese off of pans or checking under beds for forgotten underwear. They eventually got so good at what they did, that they started supervising other people who scraped and stooped. Eventually they knew so much about how things worked, they started managing the place. This could be done with a high school diploma and lots of elbow grease.
Alas, those days are as extinct as hotel room windows that actually open. Hotel Management has become a more competitive field (just like most lines of work). Now most positions require that you have a college degree in Hospitality or Hotel Management. You will get to study food service, housekeeping, building maintenance, accounting and marketing.
Once you have your degree and get a job as Supreme Commander – that is, Hotel Manager – the rest is up to your ability and the reputation you can build. If you are able to run an organization that builds client happiness and loyalty, you will go places. If not, well, the Crazy 9 Motel and Shooting Range has a job opening.