Hotel General Manager Career Path: 6 Job Titles That Will Put You on the GM Track
If you aspire to one day become the general manager (GM) of a hotel, know that there is no single route to this top hotel job. Rather, the potential tracks leading to a general manager position are as varied as the hotel industry. Customarily, large hotel brands look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher while major luxury hotels can require a master’s degree.
Both are also likely to offer employee training programs from which they nurture future GMs. Still, small hotels may hire general managers with a certificate or associate’s degree in hospitality. Regardless of educational background, GMs across the board are required to have previous leadership experience in the hotel industry and often, have already held roles such as:
Assistant General Manager
This role is the most logical progression into a general manager job as assistant GMs are already well familiar with their boss’ job, providing him or her with day-to-day administrative and operational support. Assistant GMs usually come to the job with upwards of five years of total hotel experience and at least three to four years of experience directing a hotel department.
This is a natural segue toward a general manager post because a hotel director of operations is responsible for ensuring that operations across all departments within a property function properly, including human resources, housekeeping, security, sales, marketing and public relations, revenue management and finance and also food and beverage operations. Ultimately, the job is to drive efficiency and productivity across all of the property’s facilities, which is valuable experience for those whose aim is to one day become a general manager.
Director of Finance or Controller
Among their many duties, hotel GMs are charged with creating budgets, managing expenditures and maximizing yields and their finance-related duties are particularly emphasized in hotels with major brand flags as well as luxury hotels. So having previously dealt with accounting practices, financial management and tax authorities as a financial controller, hotel general managers are in a better position to consider these aspects of the business to grow margins and produce higher revenues.
Director of Revenue Management
For much the same reason that experience as a finance director or controller can be valuable in the quest to obtain a general manager position, prior experience in tracking hotel revenues, creating pricing strategies, and analyzing competitive sets can also be a major asset for those with general manager ambitions. Not only is revenue management experience beneficial in budgetary forecasting and total revenue management, but a general manager who has previously served as a revenue management director is likely to share greater alignment with the decisions made by revenue management directors who serve under them.
Director of Sales & Marketing
These hotel executives are charged with attracting guests to their hotel, setting sales promotions as well as sales goals for their property. They have a deep understanding of the hotel’s key audiences, key markets and peak seasons, which translates well for those become hotel general managers who create the hotel’s overall strategy and will need this knowledge to make decisions ranging from budgets to renovations and the launch of new services and amenities, all of which must appeal to the types of guests who frequent the hotel most often.
Guests Services Director
General managers in more intimately sized hotels are expected to take a more hands-on approach to running the hotel as there are fewer layers of hierarchy between the GM and staff. So they may be called upon to assist the front desk with check-in or even welcome guests to the property. So past experience in a managerial position with direct oversight of guest satisfaction will prove especially valuable in hotels where guests expect relatively easier access to the GM than they would normally have a large hotels.