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Hotel Director of Operations: How to Become One

by | CAREER TIPS

Hotels are a complex ecosystem that require many employees working around the clock, seven days a week. In large establishments, there are multiple departments with dedicated managers to keep the team on track to hit targets. But who manages the managers and focuses on the big picture of running a successful hotel? That’s the job of the hotel’s director of operations.

It’s a high pressure job but also very well paid and satisfying on a professional level. If you’re looking for a lucrative career in hospitality then a director of operations job should be on your radar.

What is a hotel director of operations?

In a hotel, the director of operations is one of top positions in the management hierarchy. The heads of each of the departments will report directly to the director of operations. Depending on the hotel’s size, the director of operations may report to a general manager or directly to the owners. 

It’s their job to monitor every facet of the hotel’s daily operations. They must set budgets, oversee staff recruitment and training, and maintain guest satisfaction, amongst many other responsibilities.  

What does a hotel operations manager do?

Hotels vary in size and style which means the job experience will be unique at different types of properties. Some director of operations roles will require you to be more hands-on and present at the hotel day-to-day. This may be the case at a smaller hotel that may not have as many managers as it does departments.

At a larger hotel, you will take on more of a management role who oversees a team of department heads. You must establish clear expectations and protocols for these managers to take back to their teams and implement. 

The director of operations needs to take feedback from all departments and determine the best course of action going forward. If something needs to change, you must confer with the managers of that department to come up with ways to improve. If the department still isn’t performing up to standard, you may have to make the tough decision to let a manager go.

You are the final step between upper management and all of a hotel’s employees. You must learn how to listen and advocate for the needs of your staff while also satisfying ownership’s expectations. 

The responsibilities of hotel director of operations include (but aren’t limited to): 

  • Focusing on guest satisfaction by establishing open channels for feedback
  • Creating initiatives to improve the overall guest experience
  • Collaborating with housekeeping, reception, and other department heads to guarantee efficient operations
  • Conducting audits for each department’s budget to ensure the property meets revenue management goals
  • Recruiting and hiring staff that understand and embrace the hotel’s values
  • Developing of new strategies to improve overall hotel operations 
  • Consulting financial officer to set room rates, create budgets, and approve spending  
  • Establishing business relationships with third-party partners

What is the career path for a director of hotel operations?

As you work your way up the ladder of the hotel hierarchy, you’ll realize that many of your skills are transferable. After working as a manager in one department, it will be much easier for you to move around. An overall understanding of hotel operations and your soft hospitality skills become more important than experience in a specific department.

Once you’ve succeeded as a department manager, you will be ready to take on a director of operations role. If you can prove that you know how to run a hotel like a well-oiled money making machine, get ready for your next promotion. After crushing it as a hotel operations director, you’ll be prepared to become a stellar general or regional manager.

What experience and education does a director of operations need?

Due to the nature of the position, this job requires a significant amount of training, experience , and education. To become a director of hotel operations you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or related field, like business management. Some high-end properties may even require their upper management team to have master’s degrees in hospitality management.

In addition to a sufficient educational background, you’ll also need proven work experience. Most hotels ask for at least five years of experience working in hospitality with no less than two to three years in a management role.

Director of hotel operations is near the top of the food chain in the hospitality industry. If you’re ready to make the jump, check out the open director of operations jobs available on Hosco today!

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