Chapter 3. Accommodation

3.3 Operations

The organizational structures of operations and the number of roles and levels of responsibility vary depending on the type and size of accommodation. They are also determined by ownership and the standards and procedures of the management company. In this section, we explore the organizational structure and roles that are typically in place in a full-service hotel with under 500 rooms. These can also apply to smaller properties and businesses such as campgrounds — although in these cases several roles might be fulfilled by the same person.

Guest Services

A female front desk employee smiles.
Figure 3.11 Vicky welcomes guests to the front desk of the Delta Burnaby Hotel.

Before we turn to examples of specific operational roles, let’s take a brief look at the importance of guest services, which will be covered in full in Chapter 9.

The accommodation sector provides much more than tangible products such as guest rooms, beds and meals; service is also crucial. Regardless of their role in the operation, all employees must do their part to ensure that each guest’s needs, preferences, and expectations are met and satisfied.

In some cases, such as in a luxury hotel, resort hotel, or an all-inclusive property, the guest services may represent a person’s entire vacation experience. In other cases, the service might be less significant, for example, in a budget airport hotel where location is the key driver, or a campground where guests primarily expect to take care of themselves.

In all cases, operators and employees must recognize and understand guest expectations and also what drives their satisfaction and loyalty. When the key drivers of guest satisfaction are understood, the hotel can ensure that service standards and business practices and policies support employees to deliver on these needs and that guest expectations are satisfied or exceeded.

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General Manager and Director of Operations

In most properties, the general manager or hotel manager serves as the head executive. Division heads oversee various departments including managers, administrative staff, and line-level supervisors. The general manager’s role is to provide strategic leadership and planning to all departments so revenue is maximized, employee relations are strong, and guests are satisfied.

The director of operations is responsible for overseeing the food and beverage and rooms division. This role is also responsible for providing guidance to department heads to achieve their targets and for directing the day-to-day operations of their respective departments. The director of operations also assumes the responsibilities of the general manager when he or she is absent from the property.


The controller is responsible for overall accounting and finance-related activities including accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, credit, systems management, cash management, food and beverage cost control, receiving, purchasing, food stores, yield management, capital planning, and budgeting.

Engineering and Maintenance

The chief engineer is the lead for the effective operation and maintenance of the property on a day-to-day basis, typically including general maintenance, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, kitchen maintenance, carpentry, and electrical and plumbing (Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, 2020). The chief engineer is also responsible for preventive maintenance and resource management programs.

Food and Beverage Division

A woman in a bathrobe sips coffee at a small breakfast table next to a huge window.
Figure 3.12 A guest enjoys breakfast in her room at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver.

The food and beverage director is responsible for catering and events, in-room dining, and stand-alone restaurants and bars. The executive chef, the director of banquets, and the assistant managers responsible for each restaurant report to the director of food and beverage. The director assists with promotions and sales, the annual food and beverage budget, and all other aspects of food and beverage operations to continually improve service and maximize profitability.

Human Resources

The human resources department provides guidance and advice on a wide range of management-related practices including recruitment and selection, training and development, employee relations, rewards and recognition, performance management, diversity and inclusion and health and safety.

Rooms Division

Front Office

Reporting to the director of rooms, the front office manager, sometimes called the reception manager, controls the availability of rooms and the day-to-day functions of the front office. The front desk agent reports to the front office manager and works in the lobby or reception area to welcome the guests to the property, process arrivals and departures, coordinate room assignments and pre-arrivals, and respond to guest requests.


Reporting to the director of rooms, the executive housekeeper manages and oversees housekeeping operations and staff including the housekeeping manager, supervisor, house persons, and room attendants. An executive housekeeper is responsible for implementing the operating procedures and standards. He or she also plans, coordinates, and schedules the housekeeping staff. Room audits and inspections are completed regularly to ensure standards are met (go2HR, 2020a).

Reporting to the housekeeping supervisor, room attendants complete the day-to-day task of cleaning rooms based on standard operating procedures and respond to guest requests. Reporting to the housekeeping supervisor, house persons clean public areas including hallways, the lobby, and public restrooms, and deliver laundry and linens to guest rooms.


Large full-service hotels typically have a reservations department, and the reservations manager reports directly to the front office manager. The guest’s experience starts with the first interaction a guest has with a property, often during the reservation process. Reservations agents convert calls to sales by offering the guest the opportunity to not only make a room reservation but also book other amenities and activities.

Today, with online and website reservations available to guests, there is still a role for the reservations agent, as some guests prefer the one-to-one connection with another person. The extent to which the reservations agent position is resourced will vary depending on the hotel’s target market and business strategy.

Sales and Marketing

The sales and marketing director is responsible for establishing sales and marketing activities that maximize the hotel’s revenues. This is typically accomplished by increasing occupancy and revenue opportunities for the hotel’s accommodation, conference and catering space, leisure facilities, and food and beverage outlets. The sales and marketing manager is responsible for coordinating marketing and promotional activities and works closely with other hotel departments to ensure customers are satisfied with all aspects of their experience (go2HR, 2020b).

Catering and Conference Services

In larger full-service hotels with conference space, a hotel will have a dedicated catering and conference services department. The director of this department typically reports to the director of sales and marketing. The catering and conference services department coordinates all events held in the hotel or catered off-site. Catering and conference events and services range from small business meetings to high-profile conferences and weddings.

A chef sets plates of gourmet food onto the passthrough in a busy kitchen.
Figure 3.13 The culinary team at Café Pacifica in the Pan Pacific prepares food for a special event.

Now that we have a sense of the building blocks of a typical hotel operation, let’s look at some trends affecting the sector.


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Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC - 2nd Edition Copyright © 2015, 2020, 2021 by Morgan Westcott and Wendy Anderson, Eds is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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