How to manage a hotel with these 5 must-have tools

From cleaners to concierges to front desk employees and guests, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to how to manage a hotel. Hotel managers and owners have their hands full, that’s for sure.

But with the right tools, hotel managers can streamline their processes, save time and money, and keep their employees happy. With software solutions tailored to the hospitality industry’s needs, you can automate processes and reduce repetitive tasks.

We’ll look at what hotel management is and how hotel management software solutions can answer the question, “How do you effectively manage a hotel?”.

What is hotel management?

Hotel management is an area of the hospitality industry that involves managing the operations at a hotel, motel, or other short-term accommodations.  

Hotel management is often the hotel manager’s job or, in smaller businesses, the hotel owner. The manager’s responsibilities depend on the size of the hotel and the expectations outlined in the specific job description. 

Some of the responsibilities that may fall to a hotel manager include:

  • Hiring and onboarding employees
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Managing budgets
  • Maintaining all required records for compliance
  • Scheduling employees
  • Managing payroll
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Staying up to date with all health and safety legislation as well as licensing and labor laws 

What are the main responsibilities when managing a hotel?

There are few industries quite like the hotel industry. Depending on the hotel, your business could include both short and long-term accommodations, a conference center, bar, restaurant, spa, pool, fitness center, retail stores, and so much more. 

Because of this, a hotel is like its own self-sustaining microcosm, with many moving parts. This presents some unique features that make managing a hotel unlike any other business management.

1. Scheduling for 24-hour operations

By the very nature of being a place where people spend the night, hotels are open 24 hours a day. And while your hotel may not be a bustling hub at 3:00 am, you still need to have enough employees working during that time to cover all essential functions. 

The 24-hour availability of a hotel means you’ll have to ensure adequate staffing levels while keeping your employees’ health and safety in mind. From managing burnout to work-life balance, you need to spend time optimizing your schedules to keep employees happy and healthy. 

Communicating effectively with your employees is paramount with a 24-hour business model. Your team needs a clear and concise way to communicate with other shifts. For example, your night shift will need to tell the day shift that there was a leak in room 203 and room 408 was comped breakfast because they complained about their view.

2. Budgeting for high operating costs

Hotel operating costs are the expenses of maintaining and running a hotel. For a hotel, this includes your fixed costs like rent, property tax, and insurance, as well as variable costs like payroll and utilities. 

And while there are ways that you can get your operating costs under control, the nature of a hotel comes with higher-than-average operating costs. This, once again, comes down to the nature of running a 24-hour business. You need employees working around the clock, your utilities will be higher, and your insurance premiums will also be impacted.

3. Managing a wide variety of roles within the hotel

There are so many different roles within a hotel that are needed to keep it running smoothly. Some of the most common departments include:

  • Front desk
  • Concierge
  • Reservations
  • Housekeeping
  • Porter
  • Maintenance
  • Security

And if your hotel has any additional amenities, you can add those roles to the list as well:

  • Servers
  • Spa employees
  • Events
  • Back-of-house food and beverage
  • Lifeguards
  • …And the list goes on

It’s a lot of work to create schedules and run the payroll on one set of employees. Adding five or more additional employee roles to the mix is a lot to manage. Hotel managers need to consider how they will structure schedules to optimize for each employee category while also considering the hotel holistically. 

When planning how to manage a hotel, consider how all roles work together to create a great guest experience.

4. Handling an excess of administrative work

As you can imagine, the number of employees and the differing needs of all the various roles can create an excess of administrative work for hotel management. 

From managing multiple schedules, communicating with large, varied teams of employees, and staying on top of payroll, overtime, and taxes for so many employees, it’s no wonder hotel managers spend so much time on administrative tasks.

Hospitality managers are drowning in admin. A whopping 80% of decision-making hospitality managers spend too much time on administration. Even more shocking, 10% spend more than 20 hours per week on various administrative tasks—more than 50% of their 40-hour work week!

5. Managing customer expectations

With the popularity of short-term home rentals like Airbnb, guests who stay at hotels often do so because of the personalized experience and superior customer service. 

Hotel managers and their employees need to offer their guests an unparalleled customer experience—greet them by name, offer them additional amenities, and call up to the room once they’ve settled to ensure everything is to their liking. It’s a lot of extra work, but when your guests are happy, they’re more likely to recommend your hotel to their friends and family.

5 hotel management software solutions to streamline operations

While there are a lot of challenges faced by hotel managers, there are, thankfully, also a lot of great solutions to help. How to manage a hotel is a complex question, but thankfully, with a few of the best hotel management software solutions out there, you can streamline your operations to save time and money. 

1. Hotel booking software

Did you know that 68% of all sales in travel and tourism will be made online in 2023? Mobile bookings are increasing year after year. From 2016 to 2021, online travel sales via mobile phones jumped from 36% to 50% of all digital travel bookings.

If your hotel doesn’t already have an online hotel booking software, it’s time to invest. 

Look for software that allows you to receive reservations from several different channels. The most effective hotel booking software accepts reservations from online travel agencies (OTAs) like and Expedia, as well as other channels like social media, your website, and walk-in/call-in customers. 

Having a bird’s eye view of your bookings on any given day is also essential. Most software solutions will have a visual calendar of all rooms and reservations to see what reservations have been changed, canceled, booked, or adjusted.

2. Employee scheduling software

If we’ve made one thing clear, it’s that running a 24-hour business can be complicated. And a lot of that complication comes from scheduling your employees effectively. 

Using your historical data is key when scheduling employees at your hotel. Look for historical high-occupancy dates well in advance to ensure you have the coverage you need during each shift. This workforce forecasting can help you avoid understaffing and overstaffing your hotel.

With smart scheduling software, it’s never been easier to create and share schedules that consider high-occupancy dates and employee shift requests. Easily keep track of black-out dates, time-off requests, and your team’s changing availability. You can even allow employees to trade shifts and coordinate covers. 

Employee scheduling software helps save time by automating the scheduling process and giving team members more control over their schedules. According to a 2023 Shiftboard report on hourly workforce, 87% of hourly workers identify “having control over my work schedule” as extremely important, so incorporate these tips into your scheduling process to give your team the flexibility they need:

  • Stay up-to-date on which employees are looking for additional hours
  • Create a paid time off (PTO) policy for requesting time off in advance so you don’t have to deal with a sudden lack of coverage
  • Stay informed of any changes to your employees’ availability, especially during peak seasons

You can easily manage all scheduling aspects with employee scheduling software that lets you create and adjust schedules.

3. Team communication app

Miscommunication in the workplace can cause mistakes and cost your hotel money. In fact, miscommunication costs companies with 100 employees an average of $420,000 per year. While your hotel may not have 100 employees, it’s still a significant cost even with ten employees if you work the math backward.

Being able to communicate with your hotel employees is going to go a long way in creating a productive work environment. When you communicate with your team, you can feel confident that all employees understand your policies and processes. Additionally, strong communication in the workplace is a predictor of employee happiness. Good communication can lead to a 47% increase in employee engagement, improving morale, productivity, and job satisfaction.

But here’s the thing. ​Only 35% of employees believe their organization communicates effectively. So how can you boost employee engagement through communication at your hotel? 

Effective methods for team communication

There are many different ways you can communicate effectively with your hotel employees. Here are five methods you can use to amp up your communication.

  1. Policies and procedures: Make sure all employees have a copy of your policies that they can read and review when needed. Create an employee handbook and deliver it during onboarding
  2. Daily communication: Communicating with your team about scheduling, special offers or promotions, and day-to-day logistics is a great way to keep everyone up-to-date on new information. While some of this can be done face-to-face, this kind of communication is perfect for our team communication app. Homebase includes a feature called Shift Notes where your team can leave specific notes after a shift—like that comp’d-breakfast-due-to-a-poor-view situation.
  3. One-on-one meetings: While you may not need to schedule monthly one-on-ones with your staff, consider running them quarterly. And make yourself available to meet one-on-one with your team when they need it, too. Track the goals and outcome of each performance meeting so you can address concerns or celebrate milestones at the next one.
  4. Company-wide meetings: Whether it’s weekly or monthly, having a set team meeting gives employees a time when they can ask non-urgent questions, share their wins, get hotel-wide updates, and raise any concerns about rules or policies.
  5. Team communication app: From swapping shifts, sending out reminders, to sharing important notes, instructions, and milestones, your team communication app can make it easy to stay in sync with your whole crew. And because it’s delivered straight to their mobile device, you can feel confident they’ve received (and seen) the message.

The unique communication needs of hotel teams

Hotels have additional communication considerations in play. The 24-hour nature of a hotel, paired with the wide variety of roles, means that some employees may never see each other. But these same employees may need to communicate directly with each other. 

By keeping everyone on the same page, you can minimize the likelihood of costly errors occurring. As a hotel manager, it falls to you to model what effective communication looks like at your hotel.

A communication tool—like a team communication app—can help you keep the lines of communication open between you and your team members, no matter what shift they’re working.

A team communication or messaging app means that your employees can access all relevant information at their fingertips. Anytime, anywhere, they can find out when their next shift is, review recent hotel updates, or even send a message to the previous shift to clarify information. 

4. Payroll software

When paying your employees, being on time and accurate is essential. And when you’re running payroll manually for so many different roles and pay rates, payroll errors are more likely to happen. 

Not only does manual payroll cause errors, it’s also a time-consuming process. It’s no wonder that 70% of small business owners say payroll significantly burdens their time. And with over 25% of small businesses still using pen and paper to track their payroll and finances, of course they’re feeling weighed down. 

With manual payroll adding to the potential errors and being a definite time-suck, it’s pretty clear that finding payroll software that fits your business needs is the best solution.

Hourly workers and paycheck errors. Paycheck problems happen to more than 50% of Americans. But hourly workers bear the brunt of the problem, with 26% of hourly workers saying they’ve been shortchanged on their paycheck and another 15% saying they’ve been paid late.

Payroll software can help you reduce errors, and your workload, while still paying your employees accurately and on time. With payroll software, you can automate your payroll process to pay your team in just a few clicks. With fewer errors, your employees will be happier, and you’ll have more time to handle your other responsibilities.

5. Time tracking app

If your hotel employs hourly shift workers, keeping track of their worked hours, breaks, and overtime is extremely important. You need that information to stay compliant with labor laws and ensure they’re paid. 

And sure, you could keep track of all that information manually. But remember all the time you saved and the errors you reduced by automating payroll? The same is true for time tracking. 

Using a time clock app can automate and streamline the time tracking process saving you and the hotel time and money. A time clock app accurately tracks hours and gives you more control over your labor costs by helping to reduce time theft and prevent unauthorized overtime

As a hotel manager, time clock apps give you more transparency about the shifts you aren’t present for. Employees can clock in and out, and you’ll be able to track it all within the app—no need to be at the hotel 24/7.

Find a time clock app that integrates with your payroll software to make your life even easier. This is an unbeatable duo—employee timesheets are pulled directly into your payroll, saving you even more time and reducing the risk of human error. 

What if you could do it all in one place? Say hello to Homebase

Instead of getting 5+ tools to help manage your hotel team, wouldn’t it be great if there was a solution that ticked most of your “must-have” boxes? Thankfully there is—Homebase.

Homebase is your all-in-one hotel management solution, giving you everything you need to get scheduling, payroll, time clocking, team communication, and more under control.

Scheduling your employees is a breeze with Homebase. Build, share, and optimize your hotel team schedule using a template or the auto-scheduling feature that bases your schedule on team availability, sales forecasts, and labor targets. Keeping your hotel staffed to meet your occupancy goals has never been easier.

“Homebase helps us keep track of all our hours and staffing, helps us get our labor under control and keep our team in contact with each other, we couldn’t imagine life without them.”   

— Connor Ward, owner of Altona Hotel, Altona, MB, Canada

Homebase was built to meet the needs of hourly employees. It’s all about making payroll painless for hotel owners and managers. With Homebase, you don’t have to worry about compliance or double data entry. Homebase automates your payroll process and helps you check all the boxes to comply with taxes and FLSA record-keeping rules.

With Homebase, time tracking is as easy as opening an app on your phone. Employees can clock in and out directly from their phone, or a tablet, computer, or POS device at work. Employees will receive alerts when they forget to clock out, and you’ll get alerts when they start to approach overtime.

Our free communication app gets you and your employees in sync. Say goodbye to post-it note updates. With Homebase, it’s easy to communicate with team members on different shifts.

Best of all, Homebase integrates all these solutions. You can automatically send alerts for upcoming shifts and scheduling changes and communicate important updates with your employees in one place. Your time clock entries automatically turn into timesheets to make payroll easier. That way, you’re not spending unnecessary time on data entry and potentially introducing errors. 

Take control of your hotel team management with Homebase

Managing your hotel team with Homebase is a seamless process that takes you from hiring and onboarding new hires to tracking hours to paying employees with one easy app. Try it for free

Hotel management FAQs 

Why is effective hotel management important?

Effective hotel management is important because it ensures the hotel runs smoothly and guests are happy. Hotel management encompasses a wide variety of responsibilities, including:

  • Hiring and onboarding employees
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Managing budgets
  • Maintaining all required records for compliance
  • Scheduling employees
  • Managing payroll
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Staying up to date with all health and safety legislation as well as licensing and labor laws 

What are the best management tips for hoteliers? 

There are a lot of great management tips that hoteliers should know, including:

  1. Communicate with your employees so they know what to expect and what is expected of them.
  2. Being able to delegate to your team members is essential. Especially during peak seasons, delegating may be the only way to ensure everything gets done on time.
  3. Invest in a hiring process that helps you find the right candidates for the roles within your hotel.
  4. The hotel industry has a turnover rate of 73.8%. Creating a positive work environment that keeps employees motivated and happy is a great way to retain and recruit top talent. 

What kinds of management software does a hotel need?

Hotels need various management software solutions to help them run their business. The top five software solutions hotels should invest in are:

  1. Hotel booking software that will accept reservations from online travel agencies (OTAs) like and Expedia, as well as other channels like social media, your website, and walk-in/call-in customers. 
  2. Employee scheduling software that allows you to create and share schedules while taking into account high-occupancy dates as well as employee shift requests.
  3. A team communication app that can help you keep the lines of communication open between you and your team members, no matter what shift they’re working. 
  4. Payroll software that can help you reduce errors, and your workload, while still paying your employees accurately and on time.
  5. A time clock app that accurately tracks hours and gives you more control over your labor costs by helping to reduce time theft and prevent unauthorized overtime. 

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