Assistant hotel manager: What I do and how much I make
Natalie talks about her responsibilities and compensation as assistant general manager for NU Hotel in Brooklyn.
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My name is Natalie Fisk, I'm 30 years old. I make 65K a year and I'm the assistant general manager of NU Hotel. Nu Hotel is a boutique hotel. It's part of about 20 different boutique hotels that Hersha Trust owns. We have 93 rooms. We have three floors. We're located in downtown Brooklyn, so we have pretty easy access to New York City and various neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The assistant general managing position is really a position that's being trained for the general managing position so for that position, I have oversight over the accounting department, just to make sure all revenue is captured correctly. I manage the front office team to make sure guest service is perfect and all of our guests are happy. Housekeeping, to make sure all the rooms are being released on time and that all the rooms are clean. Engineering, to make sure that we're doing plenty of preventative maintenance and all larger issues are being handled. And often times, food and beverage as well, which we're trying to grow. Additional things that I do, I'm responsible for all hiring and all training. As well, I oversee the cultural engineering for the hotel as well and that has a lot to do with the aesthetic of the hotel and just making sure that all the programming, all the new murals that get completed in rooms and all that kind of more fun stuff is in the same line and is part of what Hersha Hospitality, is in line with what their motto is. Before a position in hospitality when you're hoping to be a general manager, you do have a certain set of hours that go on your payroll that say that's what you work and your one hour break is on there too, so on paper, I work Tuesday-Saturday from nine to five o'clock. But being that it is a position where I am hoping to grow and I am hoping to be promoted, I'm available 24/7. This means for midnight calls. If say, something happens with a guest and the front desk is not sure how to handle it, that's one part of it. Also, just touching base with the team in the mornings on my day off to make sure that they have the goals that they need to have. But mostly, I'd say, I get in, I wake up at about 6:00-6:30 every single day. I'm at the hotel by around 8:15-8:45 each day and the first thing I do is really just to open up my email box just to take a look at what's happened in the last eight to 16 hours since I've been to the hotel. Just to get a good pace on what's happening. We have a daily communication that goes out three times a day. It goes out at 3:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m where a shift will kind of wrap up everything that's happened in the last seven hours or last eight hours so we know what's going on. So I'll look at that to see what's happening with my guests. From there, I'll look at a number of different things like our guest service satisfaction scores to see what kind of new surveys we got where we can improve. Also, take a look to ensure that some financial stuff is taken care of. Things like deposits to make sure we're keeping revenue on property. So there are a number of reports that I look at that gets very boring very quickly so I won't go into that. After we do that, it's really just preparing any notes that I have for the team, for our 10:00 a.m. standup meeting, which we have every single day. That happens even if I'm not there. It's a meeting where each department head will come up to my office and we will discuss the goals for the day. What things need to be accomplished, what projects are happening. What groups are coming in. What rooms need to be prepared and what time. Every Friday I usually give a big pep-talk about wedding groups because you have to get everybody excited about that. We do have two wedding parties coming in which should be a slam dunk for us because it starts to get challenging when there's more than three or four wedding groups in house. That's when it starts to get tough because a lot of the time the wedding groups aren't aware of each other and everybody at the front desk says, that I'm just with the wedding, I need this and that. We're like, okay, great, which wedding is it? It's a good pep-talk to give them just so everybody's on board and is excited about getting everything prepared for the guests and for the bride and groom. The position that I'm in right now, there isn't a lot of travel required. I think once you start to work in the corporate office, you do have to travel to locations quite a bit. Just to have meetings with different GMs and area general managers so at that level, yeah, there's a lot of travel. Currently, for this position, no. There can be also. Say for example you're a front office manager and you make a decent salary and you decide, you know what, I really want to move to Spain or I really want to move to Japan, you can find a hotel or ask your GM to connect you with maybe they have a contact with somebody and it's a really good job if you want to travel and just get to know different locale. That's something I wish I had done a little bit more before I got so situated here in Brooklyn is really taking advantage of that because you can travel a lot if you want to. The range in what you can make in hospitality is, it varies depending on the market. Let's say you're working as a general manager in a small town in Ohio, your salary's gonna be somewhere around 35 to 45K because that's what makes sense for that market. But in a larger market like New York City, you are looking at I'd say for a GM position, it's anywhere from 80K to 120K depending on which hotel you're working for obviously. The skills and trade you would need to do my job well, there's a number of them. I would say, with any job of course, having a strong work ethic is very important. Showing up on time is obviously very important. That's a big part of it. I think your attitude is also a very big contributing factor to your success. I always say this to my employees when things need to be improved, it's very easy to go into an industry and very easy to go into a job and say, this isn't working, this isn't working, this isn't working. That's easy. Everyone's a critic. What's challenging is thinking of a way to do something more efficient and better than what was previously done that works well for the team as a whole. Learning how to see where you can improve, and making that change, that's really the skill that you need to learn to be successful. For hospitality specifically, you need to be outgoing and you need to care about people. I'm not naturally outgoing. That's a skill that I have learned. Being an artist, I'm naturally very reserved and just happy going home to paint and be quiet but no, you learn to speak to people and you learn to develop a dialogue. That's a skill that I've learned. And then just being compassionate and caring. I think hospitality sometimes is unpredictable and can be very challenging and if you're not somebody who's naturally rewarded by doing well for others, you might not find as much satisfaction as you would in another profession. In regards to some other skills that you need for hospitality, specifically for being a general manager or assistant general manager, you have to have some skills in a couple of areas. Accounting is one of them. This is a very important skill to have if at any whatever point in the future people are in a position to be speaking with ownership of the hotel, nothing is really more important than the accounting. To make sure that we're meeting our financial goals and to make sure that we're keeping all of our records correctly. It really is a system where you have to have standards in place that are being followed and can be monitored in a daily basis. You can't have things like people checking out without bills being closed or any of that kind of stuff. There needs to be a sort of iron clad accounting department. So knowing about how to manage budgets, knowing about the whole process of accepting and receiving invoices, paying out invoices, all of that oversight is very important. As well as managing finances in general. The hotel has a number of different departments that are categorized as far as operating supplies or cleaning supplies or guest supplies and knowing what your budget is monthly for that and being able to be within that budget is very important to be people to manage and that has to do with inventory management. Accounting is a big part of it. What I like most about this job, one, is that it's different every day. First, that was very challenging for me because I was coming from a reservations department where everything was very similar every single day and you can get very frazzled but now I really appreciate it because there's not a time where I'm not, I don't know, I guess it's just really mentally activating in that way. It's not boring. This job would never be boring which is really great. The other aspect I like specifically about my job is being able to bring my creative knowledge to the hotel and being able to apply it in that way. I love being an artist and I love artists in general. I think that art really has a positive contribution to the world and so I'm glad that in some way I can bring it in to the hotel. Doing that whether it's through open calls for murals or working with galleries for the lobby exhibition program or currently right now I'm trying to get a proposal approved by my corporate team that has to do with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy, which is a non-profit who takes care of the Gowanas water shed area. They kind of maintain that. They have put together a really great proposal where they want to create planters and each one will feature a different Brooklyn neighborhood and will have local floral and fauna from that neighborhood in that planter. I think that for guests who are only staying here for a day or two, to have something like that they can look out of their window or even go outside and visit eventually, is such a nice detail for them to experience because they really get an idea of what Brooklyn is like and who are the people who really make Brooklyn run. Who are the organizations that make Brooklyn special. I really like talking about that. Any time that I can go to a studio visit or meet an artist or talk about programming, that's really where I have the most fun because it just plays into my own personal interest. With hospitality, if you're kind of learning on your feet, obviously mistakes are always gonna be made and that's just a part of life. I have a very liberal idea of what it means to be a failure but I think it's actually very positive. I don't really believe there is such a thing as failure or mistake as long as you can learn from each experience. And really learn from it. If for example, and this unfortunately is a true story, if you're really exhausted and had a long day and you go home without checking to make sure that the bride got her champagne and then the bride doesn't get her champagne and she tells your boss and that's a very big thing. What it shows you is that within that process, there's room for improvement. Which means that there needs to be a secondary layer of somebody besides myself you know, or more people are involved in the process so that way it's not just one person responsible for such an important task and you kind of learn all these kinds of things as you go. But it's a never a mistake if you grow from it. If you do the same thing over and over again, I don't know about that. I would say challenges is really just, there's a lot of environment challenges and I mean that in the sense that you don't have control over how long a building lasts. You don't have control over the lifetime of an HVAC machine that needs to cool so when things break, that's obviously out of my control. But I can control by doing preventative maintenance. So there's learning opportunities there as well. Most of the challenges that I have here get resolved in a really nice way and I learn a lot from it so mistakes don't happen as often, which is good.