What is hotel management and how to become a hotel manager?

Updated 21 July 2023

Image description

There is a man reading off a clipboard and another man reading off a tablet. There is also a list that has the title "Roles in hotel management" and these roles:

• Housekeeping manager
• Sommelier
• Catering manager
• Food service director
• Special events manager
• Conference center manager
• General manager

Hotel management can be an interesting career choice for those with an interest in the hospitality sector and good management skills. They're essential in ensuring the successful operations of hotels, as they manage staff, organise catering, manage accounts and oversee marketing. Knowing what hotel management is can help you start a successful career in the field. In this article, we define hotel management, discuss what it involves, explain how to become a hotel manager and outline their average salary.

Related: 11 diverse hospitality jobs

What is hotel management?

Hotel management includes every aspect of the operations of a hotel or lodging-related business. The title ‘hotel manager' is usually for the general manager who is in charge of organising everything that enables the establishment they work for to operate. The exact responsibilities held by the hotel manager differ depending on the size of the hotel, its purpose and employer expectations. Various other departmental managers that work below them in the management hierarchy, such as catering managers or account managers, typically support hotel managers.

Depending on the size and function of the establishment, the management structure may look different, but the hotel manager is almost always at the head, answering only to the owners or regional manager. A small to medium hotel might only have a hotel manager and some subordinate supervisors, whereas a large hotel might have a management structure that resembles that of a corporation. The biggest hotels typically have a hotel manager who is the head of an executive board of directors, each of whom may be the head of their respective department within the hotel.

Related: What is front of house vs. back of house?

What does hotel management involve?

Because hotels come in all different shapes and sizes and serve a variety of functions, the exact duties of hotel managers vary greatly, but some responsibilities are consistent. These include:

Recruitment, training and supervision of staff

Hotel managers are responsible for coordinating all of the services offered by a hotel. This involves recruiting, training and supervising the individuals that are capable of seeing the necessary tasks completed. Every department requires staff with specialised training and the hotel manager is responsible for ensuring each department has the right people to serve their respective purposes.

Related: 12 Careers in hotel management (with duties and salaries)

Oversee department objectives

Each department within a hotel has its own set of objectives to meet so that the hotel is capable of providing a quality service to guests. The catering department, for example, requires trained chefs and a well-equipped team of waiters and waitresses so that they can provide food and drinks to guests. Departments might have daily objectives, such as ensuring food and drinks are available, and long-term objectives, such as selling a certain number of bottles of wine. The hotel manager is responsible for ensuring the success of these objectives.

Maintain safety and legal compliance

Hotel managers are responsible for ensuring the premises are safe and secure for guests, which involves using risk management practices. Implementing and monitoring CCTV can mitigate risks throughout the hotel, which is a good way to make people feel safe. Remaining within legal requirements also necessitates the hotel manager to consider things like health and safety and disability access. A lack of ramps, for example, can be cause for a lawsuit against the business and create bad publicity.

Related: How to perform a risk analysis (with tips)

Managing employee performance

The hotel manager often has direct contact with the employees of the hotel they work for to ensure that they're being actively coached and monitored. This may involve informing them of your expectations and the expectations of the business, setting goals for them, measuring their progress and appraising them when they succeed. Having a good relationship with staff is essential for a hotel manager as this boosts team morale and improves the quality of services provided to guests.

Related: Areas for improvement to help with employee performance

Enforcement of policies and procedures

Hotel managers are typically responsible for administering disciplinary actions when employees deviate from the rules or their manager's expectations. They may also contribute to designing policies or productivity standards and enforcement systems to use after a potential breach of policy. Corrective actions may be necessary when employees break the rules, and the hotel manager is responsible for deciding what action is fair and necessary in a given situation.


Hotel managers have general responsibility for the success of the hotel, which includes marketing the establishment effectively and bringing in new customers on a constant basis. Professionals in this role might decide upon an effective way to promote the business and in cooperation with the help of a marketing team, create an actionable strategy. This can include designing a new, more effective website or increasing the presence of the brand on social media, but there are many options to choose from.

Handling queries and complaints

As part of the job description, handling questions and managing complaints are necessary tasks for the hotel manager. Customers may complain about the quality of service, the cleanliness of their room, the food or a specific staff member and the hotel manager is responsible for resolving these issues to the best of their ability. Customers might just want the answer to a question or for someone to give them advice on something, which is also expected of hotel managers.

Set and achieve financial objectives

This is a crucial part of the job that has a direct impact on the hotel's bottom line and involves forecasting requirements, preparing budgets and scheduling expenses. The hotel manager may also typically be responsible for analysing any detrimental trends, such as an increase in wasted funds, and implementing corrective measures. A hotel manager might do a financial audit of the hotel and look at the competition to see what they're spending on optimisation and profitability.

Related: What is a Night Audit? (With Required Skills)

How to become a hotel manager

There are various routes into managing a hotel and an aspiring hotel manager can either focus their efforts on the academic route or the work experience route. Gaining a low-level position in a hotel and working your way up to general manager through years of hard work is definitely a possibility, though the academic route is likely easier and quicker for most people. The path to becoming a hotel manager via the typical route is as follows:

1. Gain a degree

Managing a hotel is complex and involves many moving variables that you manage effectively and simultaneously. It's essential to receive the necessary training and education so that you're fit to do the job. Relevant subjects can include travel and tourism or hospitality business management. Any of these may be enough to qualify you as a hotel manager.

2. Gain experience

It's unlikely that any organisation trusts you to be able to manage their hotel effectively immediately after you have graduated from university, so it's likely that you may gain some relevant experience first. Your chances of being able to secure an assistant general manager role are quite high straight after graduation, as businesses like to hire graduates and train them for important roles such as this. Whichever method you choose, gaining some managerial experience within a hotel is likely to be a crucial element of your CV.

3. Apply for jobs

The last step is to find a job advertisement for a hotel manager position and apply. If you have followed the previous steps, then you may be a good candidate for the position and you can feature your experience and qualifications prominently on your CV and cover letter. If you struggle to get a job as a general manager, you can apply for lower-level positions so that you can start working in a hotel and move progressively closer to your goal.

How much does a hotel manager make?

A hotel manager's pay can differ based on their duties, the size of the hotel they work for, the level of prestige the hotel has and the location of the job. Because hotels vary so much in size and quality, the amount hotel managers earn varies quite dramatically as well. The average salary for a hotel manager is £30,833 per year.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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