About the job
Working in the hotel industry offers many opportunities to gain experience in a range of hospitality skills that can easily be transferred into other areas of the industry, such as catering and entertainment.
From the smallest hotel to the largest global chains, the emphasis is on people, and whether working as a chambermaid or cleaner, bar person or manager, the ability to make guests and other visitors feel welcome is an essential part of the job.
Hotel work encompasses administration and management, catering, bar work, maintenance (for example electrical, plumbing and decorating), and cleaning. However there are many other skills that employees may possess or learn on the job, including booking tours, planning weddings and organising conferences, and arranging tickets for concerts and shows.
With the hotel industry being a worldwide business, there may be opportunities to gain employment abroad once a certain amount of experience has been acquired.
Hotel managers in small hotels may be closely involved in the day-to-day operation of the hotel, frequently dealing with guests face to face. In larger hotels managers may run a department and report to a general manager who will be in charge of the entire operation. Typically, managers will:
- analyse financial statistics and information
- set annual budgets
- manage staff
- ensure buildings maintenance is organised
- deal with complaints or comments from guests
- arrange corporate bookings for conferences and entertainment
Hotel receptionists will greet guests and ensure their booking is dealt with efficiently, and will answer any questions visitors may have.
Serving food and drink is a major function for hotels, from a straightforward breakfast to a lavish banquet for a special event. Bar and restaurant staff are often in demand, as are chefs and their supporting kitchen staff. Hotels also need cleanliness of a very high standard, so there are opportunities for good, thorough cleaning staff to deal with bedrooms, public areas and meeting rooms.
It is quite common for employees to work their way up in the business, perhaps starting off as bar staff or as receptionist and going through either an apprenticeship scheme or a hotel’s own management training programme done in-house. The Institute of Hospitality and the Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality offer diplomas in tourism and hotel management.
There are many opportunities to gain higher education qualifications in areas like hotel management, hospitality business management, international hotel management and hospitality management. These include degrees, foundation degrees and HNDs, and will usually mean that candidates enter the profession at a higher level, especially if there has been some work experience as part of a course.
Maintenance workers should have a qualification in their area of expertise, such as electrical work and plumbing, and courses can be found at many colleges.
Skills and knowledge
Hotel staff need to be personable and enjoy working with people, often requiring considerable tact and diplomacy. An ability to work under pressure and be a quick problem solver is beneficial, and for managers excellent organisational skills are essential, especially in a large, multi-faceted operation.