Byline: KATE CROCKETT
IF YOU have ambitions to work in hotel management, there are many ways in.
A university degree isn't everything: hard work and dedication are just as important. Here, two hotel general managers describe the academic and on-the-job routes they took to reach the top.
Sarah Comer, 29, is general manager of the Excel Travel Inn, now being built in Docklands and due to open next June.
SARAH took the degree route into hotel management, joining Travel Inn in July 1997, a month after finishing her qualification in hotel business management at Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies.
Launching a hotel means facing some unique challenges. "To begin with, I will be putting into place all the arrangements for pre-opening," she says.
"We have plans for recruiting the management team, and I deal with everything from placing adverts to dealing with agencies.
For the first six months I will also be heavily involved in the sales side - generating new leads for business." The 203-room hotel will be aimed at exhibition and corporate clients as well as leisure visitors.
"Once my management team are recruited, they deal with their own departments," she adds. "My role is to make sure they are running their departments correctly and are on track."
Sarah is also in charge of liaising with contractors, to establish how their work will affect her operations, and of setting up the new hotel's accounts with suppliers.
"It's going to be busy," she laughs.
Sarah feels her academic background has been an asset to her career. "My degree has prepared me for projects such as the one I'm doing now. It has given me a better understanding and helped me pick up things more quickly, such as the financial side. A degree background helps you to move up quicker.
"To enjoy a job in the hotel industry you have to be motivated and flexible because there are so many things you need to do in your role. You've got to enjoy being with people, because that's what every part of your job involves.
"It's an exciting, fun and sociable industry and I think there are opportunities out there if you drive yourself and push yourself forward."
Andrew Pike, 40, general manager of the 104-bedroom Montague Hotel, Bloomsbury, left school halfway through his A-levels to train on-the-job as a chef. …