Luxury Leadership: How to Land a General Manager Job at a Luxury Hotel
There is no single path to becoming a hotel general manager nor is there one to becoming the general manager of a luxury, five-star hotel.
As the industry has become more diversified, so have the professional backgrounds of these management professionals. However, many of these hotel executives share certain commonalities, such as stress levels; working in the hospitality industry’s upper echelons is just as demanding or perhaps more so than working as a general manager in another sector of lodging.
Like general managers throughout the industry, a GM for a luxury brand works more than 40 hours weekly across a variety of shifts and is accountable for the financial health of the hotel. The general manager of a luxury hotel still refines every aspect of the property’s operations and management, from housekeeping, food and beverage and the front desk to financial management, marketing and even security, while also monitoring the competition. Additionally, these individuals also tend to have parallels across their resumes as well as similar personality characteristics.
Hotel general managers in the luxury segment – like so many of their industry counterparts – have strong interpersonal skills, are enthusiastic and as the top executive within an individual property, maintain a continuously positive attitude in order to set an example for staff and keep them motivated. These managers delegate with ease and are confident in the expertise and decisions made by their staff.
They themselves are strong decision makers capable of calmly responding to tense and diverse situations. They are tolerant, flexible and adaptable, in both work-related situations as well as in their approach to a highly mobile lifestyle; general managers are typically willing to relocate for a new position. These are people with a very high level of self-motivation and the physical stamina required to work long hours with varied shifts.
Training & Education
The hospitality industry at large rewards hard work and the right attitude. There are certainly general managers in some segments of the hotel business who have come to the job with an associated degrees or even worked their way up from entry level positions.
However, the luxury hotel sector is fiercely competitive. These hotel executives generally have a four-year degree in hospitality management and/or business at the point of becoming an assistant general manager, and possibly already have a master’s degree or an MBA. In fact, business and finance expertise is becoming increasingly sought after as general managers play an intrinsic role in maintaining and growing a hotel’s profitability.
They will also embrace training opportunities offered to them by their hotel company, including expanding communication and presentation skills as well as operational training and inter-cultural education when accepting a position in another country. As they seek an international career, most general managers in the luxury segment also speak at least two languages and are open to gaining fluency in additional languages.
With their long-term career goals well-defined, general managers at the luxury level will welcome the chance to work with a mentor or have done so already as they forged their career paths and they are also members of professional or social organizations that will support their careers. They also make a point of attending industry events and conferences when possible.
Of course, these hotel executives are typically veterans of the hospitality industry. The majority have spent years working in a variety of hotel positions, working their way through the ranks while also gaining experience across a number of practices such as revenue management, sales and marketing and particularly operations, a deep understanding of which is essential to the general manager position.
They also come to the position with prior experience managing teams and have proven successful in delivering strong team performances and creating a professional work environment. They are skilled in keeping current on the competition, especially as it affects their hotel at the moment or in the future.
General managers working at the five-star level have also been in guest-facing positions where they learned to value guests as much as hotel staff and have also had practice in responding to guests’ immediate needs, comfortably making decisions for which there isn’t necessary a hotel standard. Yet, they have learned to do so with both the best interests of the guest and the hotel in mind – a skill that truly talented general managers in luxury properties will look for in their own staff.