Typical Job Responsibilities of Department Managers - Hotel Front Office Management

As you begin your career in the lodging industry, you will undoubtedly come in contact with the various department managers in a hotel. Some of the positions seem to be shrouded in mystery, while others are clear. The controller, for example, holds one of those positions that seems to be performed behind the scenes, and little is obvious as to his or her role.

The security director seems to be every where in the hotel, but what does this person do, and for what is he or she responsible? The food and beverage director holds a very visible position that seems to encompass much. The general manager must see both the forest and the trees, overseeing all operations while staying on top of the small details. How can all of these positions be coordinated to provide hospitality to the guest and profit to the investors?

General Manager

Several years ago I invited a guest speaker to my class. This person was the general manager of a local inn in our community. He was very well prepared for the lecture and described the organization chart and staff he had developed. After he explained the work that goes on in the various departments and the responsibilities of the respective supervisors, a student asked, “What do you do as the general manager if all the work is beingdone by your staff?” This type of honest question has always made me terribly aware that the role of the general manager is not easy to understand.

Indeed, detailing this managerial role could fill volumes, encompassing decades of experience. However, the legitimacy of the question still compels me to be specific in describing this very important job in the organization chart.

The leadership provided by the general manager is undoubtedly the most important quality a person brings to this position. He or she orchestrates the various department directors in meeting the financial goals of the organization through their employees. The general manager is required to use the full range of managerial skills - such as planning, decision making, organizing, staffing, controlling, directing, and communicating - to develop a competent staff. Performance is judged according to how effectively supervisors have been directed to meet the goals of the organization.

Efficiency depends not on how well tasks are performed, but on how well employees are motivated and instructed to meet the goals and objectives of the plans the general manager and staff have formulated. Figure presents a group of managers, supervisors, and frontline employees who carryout the goals of the general manager.

The plans developed by the general manager along with the department supervisors provide the vision the business needs to compete for the hospitality markets. The evaluation of candidates for positions based on a well - structured division of labor begins the process of meeting the goals and objectives of the planning stage. Who should be chosen to meet the demands of a leader of operations? What skills and strengths are necessary to get the job done? What business acumen must this person have? What vision does this person bring to the job? How will the new hire fit into the existing staff? These are just a few questions that a general manager must consider and act upon.

The operational reports - operational data on critical financial aspects of hotel operations that a general manager must review can be over whelming. However, the efficient general manager should know which key operating statistics reflect the profitability and efficiency of operations. Do the food cost percentage, labor cost percentage, alcohol beverage cost percentage, and sales item analysis provide enough information to indicate the success of the food and beverage department? Are the daily occupancy percentage, average daily room rate, and total sales for the day adequate to indicate a profitable hotel?

Each general manager has developed key indicators that measure the financial success and operational success of various department directors. These concepts are flexible, depending on the goals the corporate ownership has established.Communicating ideas and goals and providing feedback on performance are skills the general manager must develop. The general manager is a pivotal link in the communication process. Each department director takes the lead from communications received (or not received) from the general manager.

Weekly staff meetings serve as a major vehicle for sharing communication. In addition, individual meetings with department directors enable the communication process to become more effective. At these one - on - one meetings, the department director can transform organizational goals into operational functions.

The general manager of a hotel is responsible for orchestrating the efforts ofmanagers and employees to produce a financially successful establishment. (Photo courtesyof Red Lion Hotels.)

Photo courtesy of Red Lion Hotels

The general manager offers supervisory training to his or her staff in practical terms. For example, the director of marketing and sales may have set a goal of increasing guestroom sales by 10 percent for the next quarter. At an individual meeting with the general manager, the director of marketing and sales will agree to meet that goal over the next four months.

What does a general manager do? He or she provides leadership to meet organizational goals of profitability and service. It is acquired by studying theories of management and the behavior of other managers as well as actually practicing leadership and receiving constructive criticism from superiors on efforts expended. The role of general manager is a professional position. It is a career goal based on operations experience and education.

The role of the general manager, whether in a full - service or limited - service property, must encompass the concepts previously discussed. The general manager in a limited service property may perform additional hands - on responsibilities, but he or sheis required to provide leadership to the other members of the management team.

The use of total quality management (TQM) concepts, which involve application of managerial concepts to understand operational processes and develop methods to improve those processes, allows managers in full - service and limited - service properties to extend their role of leadership to frontline supervisors and employees. In full - service and limited - service properties, where profit margins are based on lean departmental budgets, total quality management is encouraged.

Assistant General Manager

The assistant general manager of a lodging property holds a major responsibility in developing and executing plans developed by the corporate owners, general manager, and other members of the management staff. The relationship between the general manager and the assistant general manager must be founded on trust, skill, and excellent communications.

The assistant general manager works with department directors to meet their respective goals and objectives through efficient operations. Often he or she is the liaison between management and operations. The more the assistant general manager is informed of the reasons for management decisions, the better able he or she is to communicate plans to the operations supervisors. The assistant general manager is sometimes referred to as rooms division manager, who is responsible for the entire front office operations, which includes front desk, housekeeping, bell staff, concierge, and parking garage.

The assistant general manager often must oversee the beginning of a job and ensure that others complete it. This position also requires the completion and review of statistical reports, which the assistant general manager summarizes and shares with the general manager. The assistant general manager is “everywhere” on the property, checking on operations, providing feedback, and offering assistance as needed.

This job requires a wide variety of previous operational skills, such as front office, food and beverage, marketing and sales, and accounting. Depending on the size of the operation and the personnel available, a large property may divide these responsibilities into rooms division manager and operations division manager.

Limited - service hotels usually do not have this type of position in their organization chart. The department managers report directly to the general manager to streamline guest services and operational budgets. Again, the general manager of a limited - service property may perform additional hands - on responsibilities, but he or she is required to provide direct leadership to the other members of the management team.

Food and Beverage Director

The food and beverage director is responsible for the efficient operation of the kitchen, dining rooms, banquet service, room service, and lounge. This includes managing a multitude of details with the supervisors of these outlets. Such details include food quality, sanitation, inventory, cost control, training, room setup, cash control, and guest service, to name a few. The food and beverage director keeps a keen eye on new trends in food and beverage merchandising, cost - control factors in food and beverage preparation, and kitchen utilities.

The food and beverage director works closely with the assistant food and beverage director, a highly skilled executive chef, a dining room supervisor, a banquet manager, and a bar manager. This team’s goal is to provide quality products and services on a 24 - hour basis, every day of the year. Constant supervision of products, employees, and services is required to ensure a fair return on investment.

Although food and beverage are served for a continental breakfast or cocktail hour at a limited - service property, there is no food and beverage director position. The responsibility for serving food and beverages is an extension of the front office manager’s duties. However, the same principles of sanitation, food purchasing and storage, marketing, standards of service, and so forth need to be followed to provide good service to the guest.

Physical Plant Engineer

The plant engineer is very important in the overall delivery of service to the guest. This person oversees a team of electricians; plumbers, heating, ventilating, and air - conditioning contractors; and general repair people to provide behind - the - scenes services to the guests and employees of the lodging property. With today’s emphasis on preventive maintenance and energy savings, he or she must be able to develop a plan of action that will keep the lodging property well maintained, within budget targets.

Knowledge of current advances in equipment and machinery is essential. This position requires a range of experience in general maintenance and a positive attitude about updating skills and management concepts through continuing education.

The plant engineer interacts with all the departments of the hotel. This person is part of the management team and can be relied on to provide sound advice about structural stability, equipment maintenance, and environmental control. He or she can be one of the most treasured assistants in the lodging business. A role similar to that of the plant engineer in a limited - service property is that of maintenance manager, a staff member who maintains the heating and air - conditioning plant, produces guest room keys, helps housekeeping attendants as required, and assists with safety and security of personal comfort to the guest. The limited - service property emphasizes quality in guest service, which is delivered by an efficient staff.

Executive Housekeeper

The executive housekeeper is responsible for the upkeep of the guest rooms and public areas of the lodging property. This person truly must work through other people to get the job done. Each room attendant must be thoroughly trained in cleaning techniques. Each floor inspector, a person who supervises the housekeeping function on a floor of a hotel, and each housekeeping employee must be trained in standard inspection techniques.

(Many hotels are moving away from the use of floor inspectors, however.) Speed and efficiency are paramount in performing the very important service of maintaining guest rooms and public areas. Skill in supervising unskilled labor is essential. Survival - fluency in foreign languages is important to the executive housekeeper, who needs to communicate effectively with employees.

Accurate scheduling of employees is also necessary to maintain control over labor costs. The executive housekeeper is also responsible for maintaining and controlling an endless inventory, which includes linens, soap, guest amenities, furniture, in - house marketing materials, live and artificial plants, and more. The executive housekeeper, like the plant engineer, must keep a breast of new ideas and techniques through trade journals and continuing education courses.

If the lodging property operates an in - house laundry, this is also supervised by the executive housekeeper. The equipment, cleaning materials, cost controls, and scheduling are handled in cooperation with the laundry supervisor.

The limited - service property depends on this member of the management team to supervise a staff that provides clean rooms and operates an in - house laundry. This hands on supervisor works with the staff to provide the many behind - the - scenes guest services required. Because many limited - service properties are fairly small, the housekeeper travels the elevators of these high - rise buildings, stopping at each floor to provide employees with constant supervision and motivation.

Interdepartmental cooperation and communication with the front desk and maintenance department in full - service and limited - service hotels are vital for the executive housekeeper. The release of cleaned rooms for occupancy and the scheduling of periodic maintenance are only two functions demonstrating why interdepartmental cooperationis critical. In addition, the marketing and sales efforts in both types of hotels depend on the housekeeper to enforce cleanliness and appearance standards in the public areas so that guests are attracted to and impressed by the property.

Human Resources Manager

In a full - service lodging property, the luxury of employing a human resources manager is beneficial for everyone. This person is responsible for administering federal, state, and local employment laws as well as advertising for and screening job candidates and interviewing, selecting, orienting, training, and evaluating employees. Each department director can rely on the human resources manager to provide leadership in the administration of complex personnel.

Staffing a food and beverage or housekeeping department involves many time consuming tasks:

  • Writing and placing classified ads
  • Pre - interviewing, interviewing, testing, and selecting candidates
  • Orienting, training, and evaluating new employees

The preparation of job descriptions, while perceived by many in the hotel industry as a luxury, is mandatory if the employees are represented by a collective bargaining unit - that is, a labor union. The human resources manager can assist in preparing the job analysis and subsequent job description. This process helps him or her develop realistic job specifications.

The development of employees by providing a plan for the growth of each employee within a hotel takes a great deal of planning and evaluating. Each department director works under pressure to meet budget guidelines, quality - control levels, sales quotas, and other goals. The human resources manager can assist each director in making plans to motivate employees, to develop career projections for them, to provide realistic pay increases, and to establish employment policies that reflect positively on the employer.

Limited - service properties do not employ a human resources manager but elect to divide the responsibilities among department heads. Although emphasis remains on well planned and - delivered human resources activities, the streamlined limited - service property relies on interdepartmental cooperation to accomplish its objectives.

Marketing and Sales Director

Notice that in the title of this position, “marketing” is emphasized. The person in this position plays an essential role in all departments of the hotel. An effective director of marketing and sales will not only want to attract external sales such as conventions, small business conferences, wedding receptions, and dining room and lounge business but will also provide direction for promoting in - house sales to the guests.

This is an exciting position that requires endless creativity. The director of marketing and sales is constantly evaluating new markets, reviewing the needs of the existing markets, watching new promotions by the competition, organizing sales blitzes, working with community and professional groups to maintain public relations, working with other department directors to establish product and service specifications and in - house promotional efforts, and following up on details, details, details. This is a high - energy position that not only provides financial vitality but also fosters the attainment of financial goals by all departments.

Some limited - service properties employ a full - time or half - time marketing and sales director. This position may also be shared by the general manager and front office manager. The previous discussion of duties (with the exception of soliciting food and beverage business) performed by the marketing and sales director in a full - service hotel is also a good indicator of what is required in a limited - service hotel. Competition for room sales to the corporate, group, and pleasure travel markets is enormous, and each hotel has to address this planning need.

Front Office Manager

Given the significance of the role of the front office manager in this text, it will be detailed more completely later on in this chapter. Some of the major responsibilities of the front office manager include reviewing the final draft of the night audit, a daily review of the financial accounting procedures at the front desk and other guest service areas during the previous 24 - hour period and an analysis of operating results; operating and monitoring the reservation system; developing and operating an effective communication system with front office staff and other department directors; supervising daily registrations and checkouts; overseeing and developing employees; establishing in - house sales programs at the front desk; preparing budgets and cost - control systems; forecasting room sales; and maintaining business relationships with regular corporate and community leaders.

The front office manager works with an assistant front office manager, a night auditor, a reservations manager, and a bell captain to tend to the details of running an efficient department.These are just a few of the responsibilities of the front office manager. The front office is a pivotal point in communication among in - house sales, delivery of service to the guest, and financial operations.

It requires an individual who can manage the many details of guest needs, employee supervision, interdepartmental communication, and transmittal of financial information. This exciting position enables the person to develop an overview of the lodging property with regard to finances and communication.


The controller is the internal accountant of a hotel. He or she is responsible for the actual and effective administration of financial data produced on a daily basis in the hotel. In the lodging property, daily financial status must be available to corporate owners, management, and guests. This requires a well - organized staff, not only to prepare operating statistics but also to assist the general manager in determining the effectiveness of each department manager.

Often the general manager relies on the controller to provide financial insight into the operations of the property. These include cash flow, discounts, evaluation of insurance costs, fringe - benefit cost analysis, investment opportunities, computer technology applications, banking procedures, and more.

This department processes accounts payable - amounts of money the hotel owes to vendors; accounts receivable - amounts of money owed to the hotel by guests; the general ledger - a collection of accounts that the controller uses to organize the financial activities of the hotel; statement of cash flows - a projection of income from various income generating areas of the hotel; the profit - and - loss statement - a listing of revenues and expenses for a certain time period; and the balance sheet - a listing of the financial position of the hotel at a particular point in time. It is a busy department that provides financial information to all department directors.

The general manager of a limited - service property acts as the controller with the assistance of the night auditor. (In some properties, the night audit is performed during the day, and the night auditor is replaced with a lower - salaried front desk clerk for late - night coverage.) Also, the ownership of a limited - service property hotel may be a part of a larger financial portfolio of a business, which assists the general manager to perform the controller’s responsibilities.

Director of Security

The director of security works with department directors to develop cost - control procedures that help ensure employee honesty and guest safety. This person supervises an ongoing training program in cooperation with department directors to instruct employees in fire, job, and environmental safety procedures. Fictional stories often depict the security director as someone who investigates crimes after the fact. On the contrary, this person’s primary responsibility is to implement programs that make employees “security - minded,” helping to prevent crime from occurring.

Unfortunately, the lodging industry has always been involved in lawsuits, which have multiplied in both number and cost in recent years. A substantial body of law provides regulations under which properties must operate. Preventive security precautions are the central theme of the security department today. The director of security’s background is usually in police or detective work or in security or intelligence in the armed services. He or she has usually developed an understanding of the criminal mind and the practices of criminals. This person is constantly on the lookout for suspicious people and circumstances.

This necessary position in a limited - service property is shared by the front office manager and the general manager. Outsourcing of security services for on - site and parking lot patrol is also used. The outsourcing of this vital guest service does not relieve the general manager of the need to develop and provide ongoing procedures to train employees to become security - minded.

Parking Garage Manager

The responsibility of ensuring a safe environment for guests’ vehicles falls to the parking garage manager, the person responsible for supervising the work of garage attendants and maintaining security of guests and cars in the parking garage. Garage maintenance, in cooperation with the engineering and housekeeping departments, is another responsibility of this position. Often a hotel rents out parking spaces to local businesses and professional people.

The accounting process associated with this service involves the accurate billing and recording of funds and subsequent deposits. This person also has to develop budgets and recruit and train employees. The garage manager often provides driver assistance to guests when their cars break down. Providing directional information to departing guests is also a frequent task of the garage manager. Even though these jobs may seem small in the overall operation of a lodging property, they build a strong foundation in providing service to the guest.

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