Lodging Managers are individuals who are responsible for overseeing the operation of a lodging property (e.g., hotel, motel, inn, boardinghouse, recreational camp, etc.). Their job is essentially twofold: to provide an enjoyable experience for both vacationing families and business travelers; and to ensure that the establishment is run efficiently and profitably. They make sure that the rooms are comfortable, that the food is good, and that the staff is helpful. They also coordinate the activities of one or more departments in the operation of the enterprise. At large hotels, there may be one General Lodging Manager in charge of multiple Assistant Lodging Managers, each being responsible for coordinating the activities of a separate department or function. In smaller hotels, especially those without food and beverage services, one lodging manager may direct all the activities of the property.
Lodging managers are responsible for the quality, efficiency, and profitability of the hotel or establishment that employs them. They bear ultimate responsibility for the operation of all maintenance functions including housekeeping, office administration, marketing and sales, purchasing, security, and management of staff personnel. Depending on the size of the establishment, the lodging manager may either perform one or more of these operations directly or supervise them. In larger establishments, there are assistant lodging managers who specialize in certain specific operations. Some of these include the following:
- Financial Managers are responsible for the general financial health of the establishment. They oversee accounting and cash-flow, monitor room sales and reservations, project occupancy levels, and make decisions regarding which rooms to discount and when to offer special rates.
- Front Office Managers are in charge of the hotel's front desk staff. They are responsible for coordinating room assignments and handling all problems involving bill adjustments. They ensure courteous treatment of guests, resolve problems and complaints, and handle requests for special services.
- Convention Services Managers are responsible for accommodating meetings, conventions, and special events at the establishment. They meet with representatives of organizations originating the meeting in order to work out details such as the number of rooms to reserve, the configuration of the meeting space, the type of food service options for the meeting, and the audio, visual, or other electronic media that will be required.
In today's world, lodging managers make extensive use of computers to help them perform their duties. Computers are used to track guest services (e.g., bills, reservations, room assignments, etc.) and to set up meetings and special events. Computers are also used to order supplies, including food and beverages. Lodging managers use computers to prepare reports for hotel owners and top-level managers. They also work with computer specialists and other information technology experts to ensure that the hotel's computer systems and communications networks function properly, both for the purpose of serving the hotel operation and also so that the information technology services provided to guests are in working order.
There are a wide variety of daily tasks that a lodging manager will either need to do personally or will need to oversee. A partial list of these tasks would include the following:
- Set room rates
- Approve expenditures
- Ensure that standards for guest service, housekeeping, decor, and food quality are met
- Allocate funds to various departments within the establishment
- Develop lodging and dining specials
- Ensure that the information technology offered to guests is fully functional
- Work with sales and marketing directors to coordinate the advertising and promotion of the establishment
- Coordinate holiday or seasonal specials
- Ensure that all accounting and employee relations matters comply with hotel policy and applicable laws
- Oversee hiring practices and standards
- Ensure that training and promotion programs reflect appropriate employee development guidelines
Irregular hours are not uncommon in this profession. Lodging managers are often required to work more than 40 hours per week. More often than not, they are on-call and subject to being called back to work at any time. Because hotels and most other lodging establishments are open around the clock, it is very common for managers to work nights or on weekends. The majority of lodging managers work year-round, although those who work at seasonal resort-type properties sometimes need to find work in other hotels or occupations during the off-season.
Lodging managers generally enjoy a good degree of autonomy. The job can be an interesting one from the standpoint of being able to meet people and deal with the public. On the other hand, sometimes guests get angry and must be dealt with. Also, there can be a lot of stress brought about by the pressures of coordinating a wide range of activities while at the same time being expected to turn a profit.
In order to be a good lodging manager, an individual must have an ability to get along with many different types of people in all kinds of situations, even stressful ones. Managers must be detail-oriented and be able to solve problems quickly. Good communication skills are critical in this job, as is an ability to organize and direct the work of others. Knowledge of finances and computers are other important attributes.
The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS) projects job growth for lodging managers to progress about as fast as the average for all occupations over the next decade. Employment growth will be fueled by a continual increase in domestic and foreign tourism combined with a steady rate of business travel. Hundreds of new hotels are expected to be built every year. Although some of them may be small enough to not need full-time managers, a significant number will be full-service facilities (including resort, casino, and luxury hotels), which will generate many job openings for managers.
Job opportunities are expected to be best for individuals with previous experience in the food service or hospitality industries. Prospects for employment at upscale hotels and luxury establishments will be best for those with a college degree in hotel or hospitality management.
Lodging and Hotel Management Schools, Certification, and Licensing
To get hired as a lodging manager for a large, full-service hotel chain, an individual will need at least a bachelor's degree. The degree should be in business, hotel management, or hospitality management; however, a liberal arts degree should suffice provided the candidate also has some level of experience in the hospitality field. For smaller-scale establishments, a bachelor's degree may not be necessary. However, even at these places, employers generally require an associate degree or certificate in hotel, restaurant, or hospitality management along with some experience.
Programs in hotel, restaurant, and hospitality management leading to an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree are available at many community colleges, junior colleges, and universities. There are also certificate programs and other types of hospitality management programs offered by technical institutes, vocational schools, and other academic institutions. These programs include instruction in hotel administration, marketing, accounting, housekeeping, economics, food service management, and hotel maintenance and engineering. Computer training is an increasingly important part of hotel management training due to the widespread use of computers in many facets of the profession.
The Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association has established a Lodging Management Program which is now being offered at hundreds of high schools nationwide. This two-year program targets high school juniors and seniors who gain an introduction to the lodging industry and learn management principles. Upon completion, participants earn a professional certification designated as "Certified Rooms Division Specialist (CRDS)". Many colleges and universities recognize this program and grant participants credit towards a postsecondary degree in hotel management.
Various hotel and lodging associations offer voluntary certifications. In order to earn one, candidates typically need to demonstrate completion of a certain amount of coursework and a certain number of years of experience. In addition, candidates usually need to take and pass one or more qualifying examinations. One prominent industry certification is the "Certified Lodging Manager (CLM)" credential awarded by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute.
- American Hotel and Lodging Association
- Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association
- International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education
- Association of Travel Marketing Executives, Inc.
- American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation
More than half of all lodging managers are self-employed. Most of these are owners of small hotels or bed-and-breakfast inns. Those who are not self-employed generally work for hotels and motels or for other providers of rooms and shelter in the traveler accommodation industry. A small percentage of managers work for companies that manage hotels under contract.
Schools for Lodging Managers are listed in the column to the left.