The global hospitality industry is packed with an impressive variety of jobs and career opportunities. At the top of the hotel hierarchy is the General Manager, and you’ll know you’ve made a name for yourself in the hospitality industry when you’re referred to as a hotelier.

International Hotel School | South Africa

This is a two-part series where we look at what the General Manager of a hotel’s roles and responsibilities are, and then what it takes to be a General Manager, from the words of great hoteliers around the world…

So what does a General Manager do?

According to Keith Bentley in a recent interview, GM of the Gateway Hotel in Umhlanga, South Africa:

“The job mainly entails planning, directing, organising and control (from service to finance). I am responsible for making sure the hotel runs successfully; making sure that all of our guests’ needs and expectations are met and that the budgeted revenues are achieved for our owners.”

A GM essentially oversees the efficient and profitable running of the hotel, including hiring and managing the finance and budgets, marketing and sales, and the team of hotel staff.

Keith Bentley, GM of the Gateway Hotel in Umhlanga, South Africa said in a recent interview:

“A successful hotel is not about the GM but about all the staff working towards a common goal. We strive to ensure guests’ needs are met and then surpassed. The hotel industry is about people not bricks and mortar!”

Jonas Schuermann, GM of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong has been quoted as saying:

“We have to make it attractive for people coming to work in our hotels and we have to become an employer who you want to work with. At the end of the day service quality basically starts with attitude and if you find the right attitude and the right people, the training part is easy.”

Every General Manager is different

The GM’s duties will depend on the size of the hotel – the GM of a large full-service hotel will have more of an administrative role, overseeing managers and departments, whereas the GM of a small hotel is more likely to take on some of these roles.

Some of these roles may include renovations, maintenance, issues or emergencies relating to the hotel property, public relations and dealing with the media, as well as reporting to the hotel owner(s), management company, or board of directors.

Didier Picquot, GM of La Mamounia in Morocco, is quoted as saying:

“This hotel is completely independent. I spent many years working for groups such as Shangri-La, The Peninsula and Four Seasons, but to now be outside of the more corporate world of hotels is very liberating. We take all the decisions and report to the board of La Mamounia directly with suggestions. It has been and continues to be a very refreshing and very motivating experience and all the staff feel great about what we are working together on.”

It’s generally about the guests

The hotel GM is basically responsible for everything and anything involved in the day-to-day running of a hotel, especially when it comes to making sure that their guests’ needs are met.

Janet Fitzner, GM of Radisson Blu Hotel in Dubai, is quoted as saying:

“I think that is one of the roles of a hotelier that I like. That’s why I like to be in operations – the possibility to meet the guests and talk to them – that is how you get new ideas. The guests give comments about what they like and don’t like – they give good recommendations and that’s how you improve either your service or your product.”

And according to Jonas Schuermann in a recent interview, GM of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong:

“One of the best resources is the guests: they travel, they see, they tell you fairly fast what they want and what they don’t want anymore, and I think sometimes we as an industry lose that touch a little bit. [We] have somebody in the lobby who actually speaks to you to basically transmit right there and then what you feel. For me as a manager it’s absolutely paramount to get this first-hand feedback. Guests tell you what they expect today and tomorrow.”

To be continued…watch this space!