Organization is the framework in which various activities operate. It is concerned with such matters as the division of tasks within firms and establishments, positions of responsibility and authority, and relationships between them. It introduces such concepts as the span of control (the number of subordinates supervised directly by an individual), levels of management (the number of tiers through which management operates), delegation (the allocation of responsibility and authority to designated individuals in the line of ‘command’). This chapter is concerned with characteristics of hotel organization rather than with management concepts..
Until not so long ago – about the middle of the twentieth century and even later than that – the typical hotel of almost any size was characterized by a large number of individuals and departments directly responsible to the hotel manager who was closely concerned with his guests and with all or most aspects of the hotel operation. There might have been one or more assistant managers who had little or no authority over such key individuals as the chef, the head waiter or the housekeeper. The hotel manager usually combined the ‘mine host’ concept of hotel keeping with a close involvement in the operation. He normally had all or most of the technical skills that enter into the business of accommodating and catering for guests. Although he might have given more attention to departments in which he felt confident about his expertise, and less to those in which his knowledge and skills might have been lacking, his approach was essentially that of a technician rather than the manager of a business. Hotels served those who chose to use them. The financial control was exercised by the owners or by accountants on their behalf. Personnel management rarely extended beyond the ‘hiring and firing’ of staff. Hotel buildings and interiors were not often viewed as business assets required to produce a return comparable to other commercial investments; maintenance and energy were cheap.
Several influences have tended to change this profile generally and the approach to hotel organization in particular in the second half of the twentieth century. The market for hotels, the number of hotels and the size of individual operations have grown, against the background of economic and social conditions in most parts of the world. Business and management thought and practice have found their way into hotels, with the entry into the hotel business of firms engaged in other industries, development of hotel education and training, and higher quality of management. Innovation in hotel organization, at first largely confined to a few firms in North America, has spread to others in other countries. These and other influences have brought about changes in the ways in which hotels organize their activities today.
Three particular developments illustrate the changes in hotel organization in post-war Britain. One relates to the grouping of functions. In the early 1950s hotel reception, uniformed services and housekeeping were invariably regarded as separate departments, each reporting directly to the hotel manager; twenty years later many large hotels had front hall managers, rooms managers, or assistant managers with specific responsibilities in this area. Similarly, over the same period in most large hotels, food and beverage managers came to be appointed, responsible for all the hotel activities previously organized in restaurants, bars and kitchens under the direct control of the hotel manager. Secondly, there has been a growth in specialists. In the early 1950s only a few large hotels had a staff manager, a public relations officer or a buyer; by the early 1970s personnel, sales and marketing, and purchasing departments were common features of the large hotels and of hotel groups. Thirdly, where each hotel used to be more or less self-sufficient in the provision of its various guest services and supporting requirements, many of these are now provided through internal rentals and concessions and through specialist suppliers and operators such as outside bakeries, butcheries and laundries..