Hotel General Manager Job Description:
As general manager of Opus Hotel, I am responsible for overseeing daily operations of the hotel. I have four executive committee members reporting to me: the Hotel Manager, the Director of Sales and Marketing, the Controller and the Director of Food and Beverage. I provide them with support and guidance and assist with their duties where needed.
I also oversee the hotel’s public relations efforts, liaise with the business community and travel industry, and perform many human resources functions. As a small hotel (96 rooms), we do not have a cast of thousands, so I help out wherever needed, sometimes taking reservations, seating guests in our restaurant, Elixir, and checking guests in. I stop short at valet parking cars, which is in everybody’s best interest.
Can you describe the steps in your hotel manager career?
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I started on the front desk at the Delta Chelsea Inn in Toronto and have since worked for 9 other hotels. I moved from the Delta to the Harbour Castle Westin, then the Sutton Place (front desk at both hotels) before transferring from the University of Toronto to UBC in Vancouver, my hometown.
There I worked at the Pan Pacific Hotel for five years, starting as night manager, moving to duty manager and to sales manager. I was transferred to the Palau Pacific Resort in Micronesia as Director of Sales and Marketing, but island fever quickly set in and I moved back to Vancouver.
I worked as a consultant for awhile, then as a sales manager at Canadian airlines, then—a totally new direction—to Vancouver Film School, where I worked for four years, working up from Director of Registration to Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
After that, I returned to hotels to work as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Metropolitan Vancouver, then moved to Opus in the same position in 2001. In 2004 I was promoted to General Hotel Manager, my current position.
How did you decide to pursue a hotel manager career?
I kind of fell into the job. I was planning on pursuing diplomatic work and worked part-time in hotels while taking International Relations courses at the university. I loved working in hotels, but only when I decided I didn’t want to pursue foreign service and was offered a full-time duty manager position at the Pan Pacific did I start to take this career option seriously.
Do you have any tips on how to get a good room?
DON’T call the Hotel General Manager like some ‘travel gurus’ say. He or she is too busy and it’s annoying. Tell the reservations agent that it’s a special occasion and, if it’s a good hotel, they’ll make note and the GM will send you an amenity.
Don’t expect an upgrade, but if it’s a special occasion you should get priority. Late travelers often get upgraded because they get the last available rooms. If you want a discount, ask for one. For more see: OpusHotel.com/blog.
What is the outlook for hotel general manager jobs?
The outlook for Hotel General Manager jobs has never been better. It seems like there’s a new hotel going up on every corner. The industry is booming. There’s never been a better time to enter the industry without direct experience and move up once you’re in. You still need to have the right qualities: great attitude, professionalism, dedication, attention to detail, and great communication skills. The big question is, are there enough travelers to fill these hotels?
Any advice on how to become a good hotel manager?
If you are interested in the hotel business and are thinking about taking an educational program in hotel management, my advice is to hold off on school until you’ve worked in a hotel for awhile and know it’s a good fit for sure. When I’m hiring I’m far more interested in attitude, professionalism, grooming, and practical experience than education. I’m a strong proponent of education, but I don’t think you need a degree in hotel management to work in a hotel. You might be better off taking business or a general arts program.
Hotels are desperate for great people. If you are in the industry and want to work your way into management, you need to work hard, be a consummate professional in everything you do, treat everyone with respect, pay close attention to detail, maintain an excellent attitude, be flexible with your schedule and always willing to pitch in, and be patient. If this sounds too daunting, then you’re probably not cut out for the industry.
What factors can affect a hotel general manager salary?
Experience, ability, performance, achievement of financial and service goals, caliber of hotel, size of hotel. Stunning good looks and a killer bod don’t hurt either. I don’t believe there is a big difference in pay rates between hotel chains and independent hotels. The level of a hotel general manager salary should correlate with the number of rooms in the hotel, the number of employees you are responsible for, and the average rate (luxury hotels normally pay better than budget or moderate hotels). Urban hotels tend to pay more than rural or suburban hotels.
The big money in a hotel, particularly an upscale hotel, however, is not in management: it’s as a doorman or cocktail server. The amount of tips these positions take home can be staggering. In moderate to luxury hotels, managers generally make from $40,000 to $60,000 per year, department heads $50,000 to $70,000, executive committee members from $60,000 to $100,000 and general managers from $75,000 to as much as $250,000 for a very large upscale hotel. Salaries are increasing rapidly in the hotel industry because so many hotels are being built and there’s a growing shortage of qualified management personnel.
You're also working on a novel, can you tell us about that?
My novel Murder at the Universe will be published this September. It’s about a harried manager of a luxury New York hotel called the Universe, Trevor Lambert, who experiences a murder on the property and finds himself playing the role of reluctant sleuth while he struggles to maintain order. It’s the first in a three-part series featuring Trevor.
The second novel, Murder at Hotel Cinema, will be out in June '08. I started writing the first book part-time while working as a duty manager at the Pan Pacific. Hotels are full of colourful characters and bizarre situations; they’re a natural setting for a murder mystery.
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