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A hotel management trainee works in the various departments within a hotel to learn about the daily operations within all divisions and departments. The trainee acquires experience in all aspects of managing a hospitality business, including knowledge of seasonal traffic, competition, marketing, sales and budgeting. He or she gains experience in company policies, how to submit status reports, and learns to analyze customer feedback and use it to the hotel's advantage. Like all hotel employees, the trainee needs to be cordial and give excellent customer service. The reviews that the trainee receives from superiors are often really important to career future. Many trainees are still in school, or are new graduates; their experiences on the job often lead directly into full-time employment. Additionally, these experiences can help young professionals determine the departments and divisions they enjoy the most, which can help make their jobs more satisfying in the long run.
Customer service is a high priority of any hotel's staff, and is often the most important responsibility of a hotel management trainee. Learning how to interact with clients, field their complaints, and solve their problems is usually one of the biggest parts of the job. It can take many forms, too; sometimes trainees answer phones, work the front desk, or man the concierge station. They may also be assigned to randomly check in with guests to assess the quality of their visit and to address any pressing concerns.
Training programs can vary a little bit depending on the specifics of the hotel and the program, but most of the time, trainees rotate through different departments in order to get a well-rounded view of how everything operates. Rotation is widely thought to produce the best general managers. In this vein, many people spend time managing, overseeing, and sometimes even participating in the housekeeping department, making sure that all the rooms are clean and well stocked.
Hotels that have special services like spas or conference centers usually present additional jobs for the trainee. It’s usually important to get to know the staff running these different divisions as well as to understand how these services fit within the larger mission of the hotel as a whole. Similarly, trainees often also inspect public areas and the outside grounds to be sure those departments are keeping things clean and presentable.
The hotel manager trainee's job description also typically entails overseeing the dinning room and the operations of the banquet rooms. He or she may go over the menu with the chef and ensure operations are running smoothly, and often helps oversee and manage wait staff. Helping arrange reservations and handling customer concerns often also comes within the range of required duties.
Beneath their polished exterior, hotels are businesses like most any other enterprise. Understanding basic economics and good business sense is an important part of the training experience in most cases. The trainee, typically under the supervision of the hotel manager, will likely learn about things like setting room rates, managing advertising, and balancing expenses so that the hotel can make a profit and fall in line with requirements from a larger chain or parent company, if applicable. Managers-in-training may also be in charge of assisting the general manager to plan budgets for the various departments throughout the hotel.
The hotel management trainee typically also learns how to interview and hire new employees in addition to regular evaluations according to the policies of the hotel. Once this person becomes a manager, he or she will probably have to train new employees, so learning the basics early on is often very beneficial.
It’s often the case that trainees move directly on to independent management posts of their own, though a lot of this usually depends on the reviews they receive during their various rotations and the strength of the connections they make during this period. Most trainees are either hotel management students or recent graduates. The most competitive traineeships typically go to the strongest students, but even the most compelling position won’t usually guarantee a desirable management position without a lot of work. Trainees usually need to keep proving their worth in order to land the sort of job they want in the style of hotel and location they find most desirable.
I had a friend who majored in hotel and restaurant management, and he worked at a resort for several summers while he was in college. Mostly, he worked as a waiter, but he was able to make contacts and see how the overall business worked.
As a night auditor in a small hotel chain, I also held the title of night manager and assistant manager. In addition to completing the nightly, weekly and monthly audits, I made out the schedule for the front desk and maid staffs. I handled the bank deposits and generally filled in wherever management needed me.
However, when I started, I was allowed to get comfortable with the auditing work before the additional duties were added. Eventually, I was able to manage the property when the management team went on vacations.
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