Hotel management is a highly skilled occupation, requiring a diverse mix of practical business knowledge and advanced soft skills. Working your way up into the hotel manager position requires training, study, hard work and commitment.
The good news is that you can make sure you learn many of the skills required for an exciting international career in Hotel Management simply by enrolling in the right course. Even soft skills such as active listening can be practised within the context of a degree, provided your college or university has a focus on providing opportunities to do so.
The even better news is that some of these skills you can teach yourself for free, using work experience and even interpersonal relationships as a training ground.
Let’s take a closer look at the eight top hotel management skills employers look for, and how you can learn them.
Empathy is not a vague term to describe something practised only by people who are born nice; it’s actually a skill that you can practise and develop just like any other skill. According to psychologists, there are three main types of empathy: cognitive, emotional and compassionate, and all three can be exercised just like a muscle.
Developing and training your empathy is crucial for hotel managers because it underlies many of the other soft skills required to be good at this job: a well-developed ability to empathise with others is the foundation on which good leadership, teamwork, customer service, and communication skills are built.
Becoming a more empathetic person is something you can develop yourself with different tools, from watching movies or reading books about other people’s experiences to practising Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) exercises such as observing your own emotions. Read here for some more ideas on how to become more empathic.
2. Multitasking and time management
A hotel manager needs to be on top of lots of different tasks at once and often under time pressure. Having the ability to multitask, prioritise, schedule and manage time effectively is incredibly important for this role, and it’s something that employers particularly prioritise.
For many hotel managers, multitasking and time management are skills that are often initially learned while working and during study usually from having to juggle study, exams, internships, part-time work and personal life all at the same time.
Many working professionals when they enrol in a Hotel Management course are initially concerned about how they are going to manage all that multitasking. However, this creative act of juggling should not be a cause for concern. In reality, it’s one of the most important lessons you will learn from your time as a student.
At its heart, the hotel manager role is all about your skill in leading a team of other human beings and getting them to do their best work. Effective leadership in hotels requires emotional intelligence and empathy, highly developed organisational and communication skills, self-awareness and the ability to delegate tasks and manage your tasks reliably and responsibly. In hotels, you are a leader by example, as well as by training and qualification.
Leadership is something that is both studied, in terms of looking at leadership styles and approaches, and also practised as a set of interrelated soft skills. Any good hotel management course should explicitly address leadership as a field within itself, such as the Management and Leadership core unit taught at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School (BMIHMS). And, it should provide opportunities to practise leadership skills through simulated work environments, assignments and internships.
4. Attention to detail
Every hotel manager needs to notice the details. Guest experience is shaped by everything from cleanliness to aesthetics, and the ultimate responsibility for ensuring everything is perfect falls on the manager's shoulders.
Fortunately, learning how to see details more clearly is also a skill that can be practised in many different ways such as; being tested on your eye for detail in a learning environment, gaining some entry-level experience in rooms division, restaurants or front of the house, or even by doing some Marie Kondo practise with your own apartment.
Communication in the role of hotel manager has different forms and functions. Being a good communicator means having developed skills in listening and verbal, nonverbal, and written communication. An inspiring hotel manager employs communication that is honest, self-aware, firm and professional while also being understanding and empathetic. As a hotel manager, being a good communicator means having the ability to:
- Define goals for your team
- Actively and empathetically listen
- Clearly state the plans and strategies to achieve goals
- Communicate and clearly delegate tasks to responsible parties
- Give praise as well as critical feedback
- Being able to accept and learn from feedback yourself
- Instruct and effectively teach or onboard new employees
- Adapting communication styles and approaches depending on the need
There are different communication techniques you can practise at work or in personal situations, in order to improve your communication skills. This is one area where practice makes perfect, so take any opportunity you can find to hone these skills, whether it’s through group tasks and presentations in class or work experience running a team of staff.
6. Industry knowledge
As a hotel manager, you also have to have a broad knowledge of what’s going on in the industry, including everything from trends and new technologies to competitors. Unlike some of the other skills we’ve already discussed, this is one area of knowledge that’s solely about research and study rather than practise.
There are three main ways to gain this kind of industry knowledge. Firstly, to get the full picture and understand the industry in all its breadth and depth, you could study a Bachelor of International Hotel and Resort Management or a similar degree. This course covers key industry topics such as economics, business law, trends, sustainability and ethics: topics that shape the world of hotels today.
Secondly, you will gain this knowledge from working in the industry, so any experience you can get is great. Thirdly, as a hotel professional, you need to do your own reading and keep up to date with the latest industry news. You can do this by regularly reading Hospitality industry publications online.
7. Customer service
Customer service is at the heart of hospitality, whether you’re working at the front desk of a hotel or you’re the senior manager. In fact, as a hotel manager, it’s your ultimate responsibility to resolve customer complaints and issues, so you particularly need a developed set of customer service skills.
Being good at customer service means possessing a well-rounded set of soft skills, some of which we’ve mentioned earlier. Communication and empathy are crucial, but just as important are skills like creative problem-solving, negotiation, writing, product knowledge, flexibility, patience and emotional intelligence.
Some areas of customer service can be developed through studies such as product knowledge, knowledge of local amenities and attractions, and negotiation styles. As we mentioned earlier, however, soft skills often require practice; they are most effectively taught in the context of training and honed through experience. That includes digital training such as in the BMIHMS VR hotel, training on campus in a classroom or simulated hotel environment, or training on the job.
8. Operational and financial management
Unlike soft skills which can be practised in many different environments, operational and financial knowledge that’s necessary to run a hotel is best learned in a classroom. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of running a complex business like a hotel, you need to do the background reading.
A hotel is made up of different divisions and areas of business, each of which works together like parts of a machine. A hotel manager needs to have a sound understanding of each of these areas and how it functions, in order to oversee the whole business of running the hotel.
A typical Hotel Management undergraduate course or postgraduate degree will provide a well-rounded education, addressing all of these key areas of business, finance and operations:
- Rooms Division
- Marketing and Advertising
- Operations and Environment Management
- Revenue Management
- Human Resources Management
- Facilities Management
Unlike industry trends, these are not areas that you can study yourself just by reading the latest hospitality news. These are core areas of hotel business knowledge that every employer will be looking for in any hotel manager they want to hire.
Curious about studying hotel management?
Check out Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, the number one hotel school in the Asia Pacific region and part of Torrens University Australia.