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Hospitality & Tourism careers

Hotel / Accommodation

Why work in a hotel?

You might have temporarily worked in a youth hostel whilst you were travelling, to get some free accommodation, but you might not believe that working in hotels, hostels and guesthouses can be a viable career option.

Admittedly, if you’ve seen Fawlty Towers, you could be excused for thinking that careers in hotels and accommodation are an absolute nightmare, where your boss is likely to be a misanthropic lout and the guests are likely to be even worse. However, this is often very far from the truth!

What's the hotel business like?

The hotel and accommodation industry offers a truly wide range of careers. There are literally thousands of hotels in the UK and they all employ a range of staff dedicated to providing the best possible experience for their guests.

Furthermore, if you have the right skills and the right opportunities, you might even be able to pursue your hotel career abroad. Why not work at an exclusive resort in the Maldives? Why not run a chalet in the French Alps? The opportunities are endless (but also, understandably, dependent on visa restrictions).

The hotel business is currently booming and growing all the time. According to the British Hospitality Association, in 2010 the hospitality industry accounted for 2.44 million jobs in the UK – a figure which was set to grow by 236,000 jobs in the next five years. With this current trend of expansion, more and more career opportunities in the hotel and accommodation industry are becoming available.

People from all academic backgrounds can pursue careers in this industry and have the opportunity to work their way up into more senior positions.

However, some large hotel chains offer their own graduate development schemes designed to fast-track bright graduates into positions of responsibility, such as Marriot International and Hilton Worldwide, which runs an award winning grad scheme called ‘the Elevator’.

What jobs are available in hotels?

Careers in hotel and accommodation management vary depending on the kind of hotel you are working for. For instance, if you’re working for large companies, such as Hilton Worldwide, then you will most likely pull the strings from an office environment.

However, if you are working for a smaller organisation you might have more direct interaction with staff and customers.

Various companies offer graduate schemes that facilitate a quicker rise to the top. However, most people will start out in a supervisor role before managing a specific department of the hotel operations, such as restaurant management, conference and banqueting management, or managing the front office staff.

Hotel managers might have strategic responsibilities, budget control and man-management accountabilities. It’s their duty to lead by example when it comes to customer service and health and safety compliance.

Larger hotel chains may also employ people in a wide range of corporate services positions, including in-house finance, accountancy and revenue management roles. The Hilton even runs a Graduate Management Development Programme.

Furthermore, staff may be employed in HR, marketing or events organisation roles. Larger hotels are ideal centres for corporate events, functions and ceremonies. In order to cater for these services, they may employ people in specialist positions such as conference and banqueting managers, conference and banqueting sales executives, and food and beverage staff.

Many hotels also have restaurants and bars. Consequently, they will need to employ a wide range of staff to work as chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, waiters, sommeliers, bar managers and bartenders.

The integral support staff of a hotel might also include people who specialise in housekeeping (i.e. cleaning and preparing rooms for guests), linen porters, kitchen porters and gardeners. Some larger hotels might even employ facilities managers to oversee housekeeping and maintenance work.

Front office staff are needed to make guests’ experiences comfortable and hassle-free. Front office managers will oversee all reception and reservation activity and lower level staff might include receptionists, concierges, night auditors and elevator attendants.

To get involved with fast track management schemes, it is likely that you will need a degree (preferably even in a hospitality management related subject).

You may begin your career in the industry without any specific academic qualifications. However, a BTEC, GNVQ or HND in a relevant subject, such as hospitality management or catering, may help your chances of quicker progression. There’s always the option of opening your own hotel or accommodation business too!

Does working in the hotel/accommodation subsector sound like a suite idea to you?! (Sorry, excuse the awful pun!). If so you should probably get inn-volved! Check out the following occupational profiles now: