Assistant Hotel Manager

Like the goalie of a soccer team, hotel assistant managers and/or department managers are front and centre on the firing line. Sometimes, the number and timing of the shots can be astounding. For example, within a two hour period Bonnie had to deal with a burning car in the parkade, a toilet flooding into the hall, and non-English speaking visitors from overseas swimming naked in the pool.

An unusual set of circumstances for the Assistant General Manager, Rooms Division, of the a local hotel, but not an unusually busy time. Assistant managers and department heads in hotels are constantly on the move ensuring things operate to the satisfaction of guests, and the general manager. "Sometimes it can be stressful," Bonnie explained. "A management position is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job. You can't go home and think you won't get a phone call at 3 a.m. because you might. You never know what can happen."

Being able to motivate staff is an essential skill for accommodation managers, according to Janice, General Manager of a nearby hotel. "Leadership skills are probably the single biggest skill. That's leadership not to direct, but to inspire. Leadership is inspiring people to achieve greater things than they would on their own."

Leadership is inspiring people to achieve greater things than they would on their own.

Charged with leading the staff from housekeeping, reservations, the front desk and maintenance, Janice enjoys the variety of the work. "I love being in a profession where you're not bored. You never know what's going to happen day to day. In my position, I deal with the problems primarily. And if there's problems from poorly trained staff, that's my fault. You try to prevent problems."

Working about 11 hours a day, the former mathematics student arrives at work early and leaves late in order to meet with staff on all three shifts during a 24-hour period. "I don't think there's a day in 10 years I've been here eight hours." But like most who have achieved her current status, she's worked her way up through the ranks, starting as a night auditor and moving to assistant front desk manager before taking time to try her hand in another industry. Upon her return, she moved up to assistant general manager and then was approached to take on the rooms division manager role. Other managerial positions in hotels include front desk manager, banquet manager, or executive housekeeper.

There are people who are good at service but go to pieces in the face of adversity. You have to be able to handle stress.
"I came back because I liked the hotel business," she explained. "I like the pressure. It's job satisfaction. You're not in the hotel profession for money, unless you own it." Most of all, anyone who works in a managerial/supervisory role in a hotel has to like dealing with people. "You have to be service oriented and have to want to help people. You have to be calm and mature. There are people who are good at service but go to pieces in the face of adversity. You have to be able to handle stress."

In most hotels, those who moved up the chain of command will work in a job shadowing role for a new position and gradually take on more responsibilities. While education in hotel management will help people move up quickly, so will experience, Janice said. "I would always hire someone who had experience and learned on the job. That would be as valuable to me as (education)."