The Real Poop
Managing a hotel can be so much fun. If a television comes hurtling out of the thirtieth floor penthouse window, it's your responsibility to sort out the mess. If an undercover health inspector is shown a room that looks like a tornado had a raging party, you take the blame.
When the local emergency room is flooded with patients vomiting their guts out after they ordered the special of the day, you'll deal with the press backlash. And seriously—between the health inspection and the food poisonings, you really need to sort out your food handling practices, Mr. or Ms. Manager.
Okay, real talk, sometimes it can be a downright nightmare to run a hotel. And your pay might not seem sufficient when the going gets tough. Hotel managers average $50,000 a year, making sure all twenty-four hours of any given day at their hotel are not only safe and clean for the patrons but relaxing and fun-filled, too (source).
People in the world travel a lot. And whether for business or pleasure, travelers need a place to hide their stuff while they sleep. The most recent counts put the number of hotel rooms worldwide at something like seventeen million (source). That's seventeen million beds that need to be made, showers that need to be cleaned, toilet paper rolls that need to be threaded onto holders, and tiny mints that need to be left on pillows.
Some of those mints may be unwrapped and eaten by Fortune-500 CEOs, Hollywood stars, or fundraising politicians. Some will be devoured by cockroaches. It all depends on the hotel and how the manager in charge runs it.
It sounds like a ton of pressure, but that's only because it totally is. The business never closes, it caters to even the pickiest clients' most demand-y personal needs, and is expected to be clean and tidy in every nook and cranny. You know how difficult and time-consuming it is to clean your whole house? Try being responsible for fifty houses, or five hundred. Oh, and you get a new tenant in all of them every other night.
Have fun with that.
Having many new or returning customers each night means you'll have a lot of people to keep happy. Attention to detail and a focus on customer experience are probably the two most critical needs for a hotel manager. If you can't stand the thought of catering to the needs of a paying customer who happens to be sleeping in your building, this isn't for you.
People have to trust you with their safety and security for their entire stay, and if they meet you, they're going to want that trust to be confirmed by you not creeping them out. You need to be a people person. You're going to really, truly need to enjoy (and be good at) working with people.
A successful hotel manager runs a business predicated on making people happy—and it takes a lot of other people to do that. This means you'll have a lot of employees to interact with as well.
A good portion of your day will be spent on rounds, observing how well the hotel is running, greeting customers, and checking in on staff. And you'll have meetings—lots of meetings. You'll have meetings in the morning with the kitchen staff and chefs. You'll meet with housekeeping. You'll meet with marketing and accounting.
And don't forget all of the assistant managers dealing with the smaller stuff so you don't have to—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 via all the latest technological methods. It takes mad marketing skills to do this well.
With so many aspects to this business, a hotel is sort of like a small town—which would make you mayor of that town. So how can you end up holding that office?
Unlike politicians, you'll actually need to get an education before you get the job (zing). Most positions require you to have a college degree in hospitality or hotel management, and a master's in business administration couldn't hurt (source). You'll get to study food service, housekeeping, building maintenance, accounting, and marketing. (Hey, we never said that the training was interesting, just necessary.)
Once you have your degree and find a job, the rest is up to your management abilities and the reputation you can build for your hotel. If you're able to run an organization that maintains client happiness and guest loyalty, you'll go places. And one of those places is the exact same hotel every single day. Someone needs to keep that reputation squeaky-clean.