Education and Careers in Hospitality Management

Hospitality industry – the past and present

Signs of hospitality can be traced back to the Roman Empire, where travelers were journeying across borders for a myriad of reasons. Even though commerce was a primary motivator; pleasure, religion and health were other reasons for travel. The first known accommodations namely, inns were in private homes in Europe where food, drinks and beds were often offered to travelers. During the Renaissance era, the inception of the hospitality concept surfaced and became a commercial endeavor. Not limited to just a room and board, the industry as we know it today has morphed into a multitrillion dollar global enterprise. The hospitality industry encompasses primarily of lodging, food service, and travel and tourism sector. The lodging segment includes hotels, motels, casinos, resorts, bed and breakfast operations. The food service operations consists of quick service restaurants, institutional food service operations, full-service restaurants, lodging food service just to name a few. The travel and tourism sector includes airlines, cruise lines, tour operations, and tourist bureaus. Other areas of the hospitality industry include event venues, conference and convention centers, consulting firms, and clubs.

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Are you ready to take the plunge in the hospitality industry?

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions to find out if you have what it takes to succeed:

  1. Do you have a vibrant, outgoing, and upbeat personality?
  2. Do you have the drive and energy to persevere?
  3. Are you a leader?
  4. Are you a team player?
  5. Do you feel a sense of fulfillment when extending a helping hand to others?
  6. Do you enjoy meeting people from different walks of life?
  7. Do you love to travel?
  8. Do you acclimatize well to change?
  9. Do you have attention to detail?

If you answered “yes” to two or more questions listed above, you possess some of the necessary personality traits, skills, and qualities to thrive in this line of work. No two days are alike in the hospitality industry; each day brings an array of challenges. Hospitality employees strive to anticipate customer needs, exceed expectations, and pursue excellence. These service qualities are vital for hospitality professionals to exude in the field.

Professional careers in the hospitality industry

There are numerous career choices in the hospitality industry. Typically, entry level positions are procured in operations. A lodging sector entry level position may be attained in rooms division or food and beverage operations. These positions are also available in other areas such as sales and marketing, sales and catering, finance and accounting, or human resource departments. Middle management opportunities in the lodging and food service sector include executive positions, and typically are titled Assistant Manager or Supervisor. Hospitality businesses are recruiting a greater number of college graduates at the middle management level and above. In recent years, there is a growing demand for nouveau careers within the industry; titles such as revenue managers, asset managers, real estate developers, sustainability managers, event planners, search engine optimization and social media specialists are on the rise. Climbing up the career ladder from middle management to upper management positions means attaining a job title, namely, a Director, General Manager, Chief Financial Officer, Vice President or even President. These positions require a number of years of work experience. Planning, coordinating, communicating, and directing, controlling and decision making are management skills expected of most middle and senior managers.

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Studying hospitality management in the United States

So why choose the United States as your number one choice for hospitality management? If you have the passion for pursuing a career in the hospitality industry, the United States offers all the facets of hospitality education needed to succeed in the field. Firstly, there are over 400 accredited colleges and universities that offer a multitude of hospitality degree majors at the undergraduate and post-graduate level. A hospitality management major at a college or university can springboard into a successful career in the industry. Secondly, US colleges and universities offer solid curriculums that are current, and mirror the changing landscape of the hospitality industry. Thirdly, United States hospitality management schools strike a good balance; they provide a practical approach to hospitality and instill strong management skills, science, concepts, techniques, and knowledge needed to excel in the industry. Fourthly, embedded into most United States hospitality curriculums are internship opportunities. This provides students an opportunity to attain work experience, boost their resume and gain a competitive edge prior to graduation. Many US education institutes have a career service department on campus, where students are coached to write good resumes, brush up on their interviewing skills, partake in career fairs and on campus interviews, get assistance with internship and job searches, etc.

The hospitality industry’s future in the United States

United States hospitality industry growth can be attributed to a few factors. With a rise of emerging markets like Brazil, India and China there will be a greater propensity to travel to the United States from these countries for business and leisure. Moreover, the United States will be faced with a rising demand from the baby booming segment (those born in the United States from 1946-1964); this segment will have a higher tendency to travel domestically. As the hospitality industry continues to grow, employers from all sectors of the industry will continue to seek out executives, and a demand for professional hospitality degrees will continue to be on an incline. The hospitality industry will be more apt to employ professional talent to relentlessly pursue service excellence. Graduating hospitality students will be equipped with skills to hit the ground running, pursue job opportunities and seek fulfilling new hospitality careers of the 21st century. Relying on people with professional education to exceed the expectations of the discerning guest will continue to be the utmost priority of the hospitality industry in the future.