The hospitality industry has been one of the worst affected sectors during the pandemic period. Not only that, there has also been significant impact caused by Brexit, with many European workers leaving the UK in the past year or so, causing a dramatic shortage in hospitality sector labour and skills.
Businesses are reporting problems recruiting, with many vacancies currently unfilled in the hotel, food and beverage, and leisure sectors.
Now is a prime time to enter the world of hospitality, with such a variety of roles, requiring many different skills, which can be acquired and developed, contributing to a rewarding career in this dynamic sector.
What types of roles are there?
The hospitality sector can be broadly split into four subdivisions – food and beverage, accommodation, recreation and travel and tourism.
The sector is quite broad and includes jobs working in hotels, restaurants and casinos, theme parks, cruise ships, leisure parks and other facilities that help customers meet their leisure and recreational needs.
Many jobs in the hospitality industry are customer-facing but there are also behind-the-scenes roles that include positions in sales, marketing, and accounting amongst others. Jobs in food services are also plentiful in the hospitality industry, including bar and waiting staff and food preparation jobs.
There are many management-level jobs across these areas as well, including hotel managers and executive chefs.
Given this range, jobs in the hospitality industry can either involve a lot—or very little—customer interaction. Many jobs are entry-level, but hospitality, like other service industry occupations, is an area where you can climb the ladder to a managerial role accompanied by more responsibility, along with a better salary!
One of the key areas of hospitality jobs is accommodation and we describe some of the roles and the skills required to fulfil these roles below.
There are various roles available in hotels and other accommodation providers, including reception and front of house staff, housekeeping positions, restaurant staff, managers, and also porters and event planners. Most of these positions require excellent customer service skills, attention to detail, teamwork, and good personal grooming. Creative problem-solving (because travellers sometimes have unexpected problems) and a thorough knowledge of local resources and attractions are important as well.
Food service includes everything from fast food to working in a high-end restaurant. All of these jobs require excellent customer service skills, careful attention to detail (forgetting a minor detail could give a customer food poisoning or trigger a life-threatening allergy), and a thorough knowledge of the restaurant’s current offerings. The work is fast-paced, and a good memory is crucial.
Food and beverage preparation
Food and beverage preparation may include customer service (for example, for bartenders or coffee baristas), or these jobs may be entirely behind the scenes (chefs for example). In addition to specific skills using the tools of the trade, such as espresso machines and kitchen equipment, more general abilities are required. These include attention to detail and a commitment to safety, the ability to work well as part of a team, and the ability to work quickly and calmly in a high-pressure environment.
Maintenance and cleaning
Someone has to keep restaurants, hotels, and clubs clean and sanitary. Other work includes repairing equipment, changing light bulbs, and replacing broken locks on bathroom stall doors, for example. There is substantial overlap between the custodial and maintenance, and some positions may combine both roles to some extent. These skills include everything from the safe and appropriate use of cleaning chemicals to basic electrical repair and carpentry. Teamwork is often important, as is a strong work ethic.
Hospitality management requires skills some that are specific to the industry and others that are important in any management context. When applying for such a position you will have to demonstrate teamwork, leadership, budgeting, strategic thinking, customer service, and a thorough understanding of your specific business—whether that means being able to speak intelligently about food and wine for a restaurant manager, to understanding when the busy season is for your hotel and why.
Hospitality sector job lists
For descriptions of many different roles in the hospitality industry, visit the National Careers Service website where detail about many (not necessarily all) of the roles is available.
Hospitality sector skills
As you would expect, many hospitality sector jobs rely on a considerable degree of customer service but working in the industry calls for all sorts of different skills, depending on which type of role you are carrying out. Below is a list of a few that would appear on a top skills list of hospitality sector employers:
The ability to work as part of a group, a common requirement in hotels, pubs and restaurants.
Hospitality is generally fast moving and changing, and situations occur which require adaptability. Working extra hours and covering shifts is not uncommon.
The hospitality environment is busy, with lots of things going on and with customers in the mix too, things change very rapidly. Being able to deal with challenging situations with calmness is a great skill to have.
Think of what a chef or a waiter has to do, juggling orders as well as plates, keeping six pots on the go at the same time. Taking orders, dealing with several orders at once, and keeping the customer happy.
The hospitality is a rewarding environment in which to work. Exciting, busy and fun but generally physical with challenging duties and customers so having endurance and energy is helpful.
Attention to detail
In the customer service environment it is vital to take care of the detail, a nicely laid out table, clean glassware, correct orders. 70% of customers return based on the service alone!
In a busy environment it is important to be able to manage your time. Multi-tasking means lots of duties and absolutely requires you to be on the ball and ‘spinning the plates’ efficiently.
Working with colleagues, being part of an efficient team, speaking to customers, getting orders written down correctly - communication is a vital part of working in the hospitality sector.
Thinking on your feet will always be part of a role in the hospitality industry. If you’re able to adapt to situations and respond quickly and correctly using your own initiative, you will go far in the sector.
Respect (and cultural sensitivity)
Being in tune with your colleagues and customers, having respect for all people’s values and behaviours is part of customer service and if you work with people, it helps to like and respect them. You may occasionally get challenging customers but having respect allows you to cope with all they throw at you.
Other useful qualities
You might also be expected to have some or most of the following traits, training and skills to succeed in a busy hospitality sector setting:
Strong work ethic
Hard work and commitment is required in abundance in the hospitality sector but if you’ve got it, you will succeed in this industry.
Safety and Hygiene
It is an important requirement of working in the Food and Beverage services and vital that safety and hygiene training is provided. There are training courses available if you are looking to go into this sector as a career.
You will be challenged by situations and customers in the hospitality sector. Being able to work things out and come up with a solution that means the customers (and your Manager) are happy is a great skill to have.
Taking responsibility for your actions, your own work and therefore the outcomes of your actions is important. If you have accountability, you can reap the rewards of what you achieve.
The customer service industries rely on working with people and providing a great experience. Enthusiasm for your work and the service you provide is one of the most important aspects of working in the industry.
Good personal grooming
This may be obvious, but you won’t last long in hospitality if your standards of personal grooming and hygiene are not to the required standard. Taking pride in your appearance is important in most jobs but is vital in the hospitality sector.
Below are links to further information, training courses and informative videos about careers in the hospitality sector. For more information please visit the websites of the contributing organisations.
Institute of Hospitality Careers Support Videos
Institute of Hospitality Training courses
Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality Training Programmes
We acknowledgment a number of contributors to this material from the Institute of Hospitality Management, the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality, National Careers Service, HIT Training, the Balance Careers and the CV Library.