The breakdown of hotel operations
It might be safe to say that within the hospitality sector, the hotel industry provides the greatest variety of jobs and opportunities for growth. In particular, the foodservice concepts of hospitality operations give a great deal of scope for growth, both in hotels and in many other related fields. Solid hotel experience is a good base from which to develop in the general hospitality sector.
With this in mind, we will explore the function of each department and take a look at some of the key jobs within those departments.
We want to examine:
- how each department fits into the hotel organization’s general structure; and
- alternative components of the job that go into making and department work.
It is important to always remember that there is no standardization of divisions in the industry. Every hotel is unique, despite how similar they may seem on the surface. The hotel and catering industry is undoubtedly one of the most contradictory and complex of all sectors when it comes to internal departmentalization. Department titles and responsibilities often differ from hotel to hotel, as do the various departmental activities. Departments that are considered essential in one hotel may not even exist in another. Consequently, it is almost impossible to give you an idea of the entire hotel and catering industry.
Staff levels of seniority
Customarily, a hotel has four major employee levels:
- senior management
- first level supervisory staff
- second-level supervisory staff
- operative staff
The senior management team
- General manager
- Deputy general manager
- Food and beverage manager
- Rooms division manager
- Financial controller
- Executive chef
- Banqueting manager
- Executive housekeeper
- Human resources manager
- Sales and marketing manager
In order to ensure that all departments communicate with each other, the senior management team will normally meet at a set time on a regular basis. This meeting also provides an opportunity for the general manager to ensure that he or she is in touch with all that is going on in each department.
The next step down is the supervisory staff and department heads at the first level. In each department, these staff will be assistant managers, such as the assistant food and beverage manager and assistant housekeeper, and departmental organizational heads, such as the front office manager and restaurant manager. It would be expected that these supervisors would attend daily meetings within their own departments to ensure effective communication at this level.
The next level is the supervisory staff in each department. These are the restaurant head waiters and station head waiters, the banqueting managers, reception shift leaders, and floor housekeepers. These workers work very closely with the general staff and are solely responsible for ensuring that the work is conducted to the standards expected.
All other grades of staff within each department are made up of general staff. They range from people who are well-trained and highly-skilled, to semi-skilled employees and trainees. They may have special abilities that give them a level of responsibility to ensure that work is done to standard, or they may only be responsible for ensuring that their own duties are performed.
Management duties and responsibilities
The General Manager
The general manager is the highest executive in a typical hotel (commonly referred to as the GM). The GM usually reports directly to the hotel directors or owners. In order to ensure that the guest gets the right level of service and hospitality, the GM is the leader of a team that must work closely together. The hotel must operate at the maximum possible level of occupancy, the restaurants must remain full and profitable, the costs must be effectively controlled and the budget and profit objectives must be met.
Food and beverage, front office operations, housekeeping and banqueting must be clearly understood by the General Manager. For example, he or she does not need to be a chef, but a good understanding of what goes on in the kitchen operation is important.
To sum it up, The ultimate praise or blame is taken by the GM.
The Assistant General Manager
The duties of the deputy GM will depend largely on the hotel’s size, the GM’s background and strengths, and the deputy’s background and strengths . It may be that in the rooms division, the general manager has a strong background and a deputy is appointed who is stronger, for example, in the food & beverage operation. The GM may also be a stronger administrative or business person, and a deputy who is powerful in operations and dealing with employees and guests is needed. The deputy GM can very often be the person responsible for the real day-to-day operations of the hotel in this situation.
The deputy general manager may also have the dual responsibility of running a department. iThe department will usually be either the food and beverage dept or the rooms division. This kind of appointment is most often made so that when the GM is out on business or on leave, someone is in place to manage the hotel.
The Food and Beverage Manager (F&B)
The title food and beverage really sums up the job description. Restaurants, bars, room service and all other outlets that may serve food or drinks are the responsibility of him/her. The head chef will report to the F&B manager during certain operations. In others, the F&B manager would be of equal rank to the head chef. Whatever the scenario is, they will need to work together closely.
The rooms division manager
This individual is responsible for all front desk activities and housekeeping operations. The duties of this manager can include maintenance and security as well. The lobby, the porter’s desk (the porter is called the concierge in some hotels), the guest relations desk, reservations and switchboard will be part of the front office service. Housekeeping involves cleaning of rooms and washing activities. While most of the larger hotels will have a manager of the room’s section, some hotel systems have direct reporting to the GM or the deputy GM of the front office and housekeeping.
The manager of the rooms division is responsible for overseeing the department in such a way that it achieves the highest possible room occupancy, bed occupancy, and room rates.
The Executive Chef
The executive chef (also called the chef de cuisine) is responsible for the entire kitchen operation. In any hotel which wishes to establish and maintain a reputation for the quality of its food, the individual holding this position is very important. In any big, quality operation, the executive chef is not only a highly qualified chef, but also has to be a good manager of staff, a good cost controller, and a good organizer.
Depending on the number of rooms in the hotel, the size and style of the restaurant(s), the extent of the room service operation, and the size of the banquet and outside catering operation, the importance of the position within the hotel will vary.
The Executive Housekeeper
The supply of accommodation is the principal purpose of the hotel operation. It is the one area of a hotel where the client will expect a certain consistency of quality and cleanliness standards. It is the responsibility of the executive housekeeper to ensure that all rooms are cleaned, serviced, and maintained at a standard that will guarantee guest satisfaction.
Whether this is subcontracted to an outside supplier or done in-house, the housekeeper is usually responsible for all the laundry in the hotel. This will often include the restaurant tablecloths, the chefs, porters, waiters, and receptionists’ uniforms, as well as the bed linen and so on. He or she would also be liable for any valet service, such as pressing, dry cleaning, or laundry, offered to the guest.
The Human Resources Manager
Traditionally, the hotel industry is a labor-intensive industry. In many aspects of the operation, although technology certainly plays a role, people are required to produce and serve food, to check guests in and out, and to provide personal service and information. The complexity of South Africa’s labor laws, the importance of management/staff relationships in a changing environment, and staff training require a specialist human resources manager to be employed by most large hotels (abbreviated to HR manager)
The Sales and Marketing Manager
Sales and marketing is a specialist field, and a person with qualifications and experience from outside the hotel field is required for the position. A specialist salesperson will not be employed by all hotels and many prefer to employ outside agencies to manage the marketing activities. Conversely, the role of sales and marketing can be split between other members of management.
The Maintenance Manager
Some uncertainty often exists about where the maintenance manager should fit into the hotel organization. This is a vital function of the hotel’s smooth operation, and sometimes the importance of this role is underestimated. The maintenance manager could report to the general manager, the deputy GM, the manager of the rooms division, or sometimes the executive housekeeper. This depends on the complexity of the hotel and the individual’s qualifications.
The Security Manager
The security function is also one that can often be subcontracted to outside suppliers that are specialists. He or she will normally report directly to the general manager if an internal security manager is appointed.
The Night Manager
From the time a hotel’s facilities close, until the early morning when the restaurants open for breakfast, many hotels will hire a full-time night manager who takes responsibility for the hotel.
This employee will typically report to the manager of the rooms division and will be responsible for managing any issues that may arise during this period. Late-night check-ins or check-outs or other special guest arrangements. Many administrative or report-producing roles can be delegated to this role may exist. It is vital to have a responsible person on duty at the hotel who can, if appropriate, make informed and accountable decisions.
The roles in a kitchen.