April 06, 2022
By Kim Campbell

Spanning the globe, sensitive to change, and susceptible to a wide array of outside influences, the hospitality industry is a complex and nuanced one, and navigating the ever-changing landscape is a challenge, even for seasoned professionals. Some of the most valuable resources available to hoteliers, event planners, and other industry leaders are hospitality books written by their peers and predecessors.

In this post, we explore some of the most recommended and highly-rated hospitality books on the market. From opening and operating a hotel to finding inspiration serving others, we look at hospitality books that analyze the latest industry trends, share the powerful personal stories of industry giants, provide real-world expert advice, and so much more.

Discover 14 must-read hospitality books that industry insiders love

Whether you’re just starting out in the hospitality industry or are decades into your career, our list of must-read hospitality books spans all skill levels and has something for every learning style.  

  1. 100 Tips for Hoteliers
  2. Contagious
  3. How to Run a Great Hotel
  4. The Gold Standard
  5. More Hotel Mogel
  6. Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism
  7. Overbooked
  8. The Adapters
  9. Be Our Guest
  10. The Surprise Restaurant Manager
  11. The Heart of Hospitality
  12. Without Reservations
  13. Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy
  14. Setting the Table

Best hospitality books for hotel leaders and managers

Excellent resources for owners, operators, hotel managers, sales directors, and marketing managers, we start our list with the essential hospitality books every hotel professional should have in their library.

1. 100 Tips for Hoteliers

Written by Peter Venison, author of the widely taught and celebrated "Hotel Management" book, "100 Tips for Hoteliers" was penned to help hoteliers find passion and meaning in their work. Venison offers tips and best practices for every stage of running a hotel, from the grand opening to day-to-day operations, and everything in between. Covering topics from communication improvement to effective team management, we recommend this book for hoteliers, general managers, and other leadership roles.

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2. Contagious

One of our favorite must-read hospitality books, Jonah Berger’s "Contagious" explores why certain things become popular. Delving into the science behind social transmission and word-of-mouth advertising, Berger explores the fundamental drivers that cause something to become contagious and why some stories are more infectious than others. Whether accounting for a workplace rumor that caught on quickly, the latest viral video, or a new product flying off the shelves, "Contagious" explores the common denominators that account for popularity.

“If you are seeking a bigger impact, especially with a smaller budget, you need this book," said Chip Heath, co-author of "Decisive" and "Made to Stick." "Contagious will show you how to make your product spread like crazy.”

An enlightening book for hotel sales and marketing managers, "Contagious" does more than look at the phenomena of viral marketing. Berger provides readers with actionable tasks that drive consumer engagement and could help take your hotel marketing to the next level.

3. How to Run a Great Hotel

"How to Run a Great Hotel" focuses on the idea that, in the competitive environment that is the modern hotel industry, “being good is just not enough.” Ideal for hotel owners and managers, Enda Larkin’s book focuses on the value of conducting a “root and branch review of key business processes,” analyzing the hotel from top to bottom.

In "How to Run a Great Hotel," Larkin walks readers through the entire process by analyzing critical components of hotel success, such as evolving leadership skills, strategy development, capturing customer attention, and engaging with hotel employees. Larkin purports that by analyzing, scrutinizing, and readjusting key business practices, hoteliers are more likely to achieve lasting business success.

4. The Gold Standard

Written by one of the world’s most successful and in-demand event planners, "The Gold Standard" is the how-to book for cultivating genuine customer experiences. Author Colin Cowie provides readers with actionable insights and a variety of real-world activities hoteliers can complete to improve the guest experience.

“I truly believe Colin Cowie's 'The Gold Standard' is more timely than ever, as businesses look to engage with the shifting needs of their guests," said Radha Arora, President, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. "A copy of this powerful book in the hands of the people who work with you can elevate the experience of everyone involved and undoubtedly increase the size of your audience.”

An “indisputable blueprint for creating a customer-service culture that anyone can tailor to their own needs,” this book is key reading for hoteliers, sales managers, marketing directors, restaurateurs, and other hospitality professionals.

Hospitality books for continuing education  

In the professional world, education never stops. To stay relevant in today’s competitive hospitality industry, leaders must stay abreast of evolutions in marketing, technology, global tourism, and more.  

5. More Hotel Mogel

Authors Larry Mogelonsky, the “world’s most published writer in hospitality,” and publishing partner, Adam Mogelonsky, released the 7th edition of "More Hotel Mogel" in 2020. Discussing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the complicated path the hospitality industry faces moving forward, this updated collection of essays includes thoughtful analysis and reflection on the most pertinent issues facing hoteliers today.

Explore current industry trends and develop strategies for operating your hotel successfully, even on a lean budget. "More Hotel Mogel" offers strategies to help hoteliers appeal to customers’ shifting expectations, give guests what they really want, and boost hotel revenue in light of current circumstances.

6. Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism

Now in its 7th edition, "Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism" is one of the quintessential marketing guides for hoteliers, marketing managers, and sales directors. Written by Phillip T. Kotler, James C. Makens, John T. Bown, and Seyhmus Baloglu, four hospitality experts and renowned authors, this guide takes a close look at the unique challenges facing the hospitality industry on a global scale.

Using real-world examples and case studies, "Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism" helps hoteliers understand, identify, and overcome modern industry threats. The latest edition has been updated to include new social media coverage, destination tourism, and other hospitality trends you need to know.

Hotel marketing ... simplified

7. Overbooked

A revelatory hospitality book for those interested in the future of travel, "Overbooked" dissects the travel boom and discusses how tourism is quickly becoming the largest global business in the world’s economy. Elizabeth Becker, "Overbooked" author and former correspondent for The New York Times, details what she uncovered during her global travels while documenting the effects of travel and tourism across the world. Join Becker as she surveys the impact travel is having on different regions of the world, the environment, and cultural heritage.

“Tourism is one of the world's largest – and unexamined – industries," said Zachary Karabell, author of "Superfusion." "Elizabeth Becker takes us on a compelling journey across continents to show us just how essential tourism is to global prosperity. You will never book a room, ascend the Eiffel Tower, or see the sites in quite the same way again.”

8. The Adapters

Sean Worker shares stories, advice, and industry insights from some of the leading innovators in the travel, hospitality, and tourism industries in "The Adapters." Outlining conversations with GGTs, or “Gutsy Genius Thinkers,” Worker invites business leaders and industry experts to share their stories of management success, entrepreneurship, and best practices.

Worker and guests identify new patterns and trends affecting hospitality as they couple it with historical context to provide readers a complete picture of industry developments. Perfect for both visual and auditory learners, "The Adapters" is produced as both a multi-book and audiograph series.

Books for aspiring hospitality professionals

Would you like to work in hotels, open a restaurant, or something similar? Are you considering a career in the hospitality industry? The following hospitality books seek out what lies at the heart of hospitality. They promote the true value of customer service and paint a portrait of working in the industry.

9. Be Our Guest

Customer service is the core of hospitality, and perhaps no company understands this better than Disney. Published by the Disney Institute, "Be Our Guest" explores how putting exceptional customer service at the heart of the Walt Disney World experience helped create the magical kingdom that Disney is today. Discover new ways to approach customer service and exceed guest expectations by reviewing the strategies and principles Disney incorporated to ensure they always put their customers first.

"Be Our Guest" focuses on the core values of customer service and is an excellent read for anyone interested in pursuing careers in hospitality or service. Take an empowering journey and learn to look beyond traditional workplace practices in order to create one-of-a-kind quality customer experience.

“Disney implements processes to respond to its guests’ emotions throughout their parks and resorts," said Jonathan Sachs, VP of Experience Transformation at Adventist Healthcare. "For example, Disney was the first to entertain guests who are waiting in long lines to help them be less bored and pass the time quicker. Since guest needs, wants, stereotypes, and emotions can change over time, Disney revisits this framework often to match their systems to guest expectations.”

10. The Surprise Restaurant Manager

Ken McGarrie, one of the most successful restaurateurs in the industry, has launched over a dozen successful restaurants throughout his career. In "The Surprise Restaurant Manager," McGarrie takes a long look at a situation many hospitality professionals find themselves in — being thrust into a leadership role.

Industry-wide, whether in restaurants or hotels, workers often move up quickly through the ranks. Too often, employees find themselves moving from server to floor manager, or from a front desk employee to a front desk manager, without the proper skills and training to do the best work possible.

Although written for the restaurant industry specifically, "The Surprise Restaurant Manager" offers valuable lessons for anyone interested in joining or moving up the hospitality ladder. McGarrie uses “real-life examples, straightforward strategies, and expert insight in an effort to better leadership development.”

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11. The Heart of Hospitality

An impressive collection of stories, experiences, insights, and advice from industry legends, "The Heart of Hospitality" is an ideal book for hoteliers who want to learn from experienced real-world experts. Read about the trials, tribulations, and accomplishments of a variety of industry experts in this collection put together by author Michal Solomon. If you’re looking for wisdom or inspiration from the greats, this is the book to help you learn.

Inspirational hospitality books

On long, tiring days when the usual inspirational hospitality quotes aren't quite enough, check out these inspirational hospitality books for a full-blown pick-me-up.

12. Without Reservations

"Without Reservations" tells the inspirational story of how Marriott, one of the largest and most successful hotel chains in the world, grew from the foundation of a small family root beer stand. J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr., son of Marriott’s founder J. Willard Marriott, celebrates his father’s life as he details the family’s journey over 80 years.

While discussing the book in an interview with Forbes, Marriott describes what his family did differently to find success:        

“My dad started it all back in the '30s when we had a root beer stand and then a restaurant," he said. "And one day the cook didn't show up and he decided he better get a program going so he could retain his people and keep them happy. And he put a doctor on the payroll to do their healthcare and a few years later he put a surgeon on the payroll to do their healthcare.  But it's always been the major belief of our company, take good care of your people, they'll take good care of the customer, and the customer will come back.”

Get an insider view of how one of the world’s most successful hoteliers built his empire and secured his place in hospitality history. Packed full of expert insights, advice, and guideposts for achieving success, "Without Reservations" is as engaging as it is penetrating.

13. Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy

The inspiring story of Isadore Sharp, "Four Seasons" illustrates how one young man, the first-generation son of immigrants, went on to build one of the most iconic upscale hotel brands in the world: The Four Seasons. In this memoir, Sharp explores the Four Seasons’ philosophy and unravels how the brand was built. Beginning with the construction of apartment buildings in his youth, and culminating in the ownership of more than 150 hotels in 40 countries, readers follow Sharp’s journey to creating a first-of-its-kind hotel experience for guests by building a destination within a destination.  

14. Setting the Table

In "Setting the Table," Danny Meyer, founder of Union Square Hospitality, discusses the value of creating meaningful, uplifting, and lasting memories with your customers. About so much more than business, "Setting the Table" dives deep into the human experience and the power of building relationships.

The final hospitality book on our list, "Setting the Table" stresses the importance of focusing on the most important part of your business first: the guests.

Start a reading list and put these hospitality books at the top!

Finding a block of free time dedicated to reading isn’t an easy task for many busy hoteliers. If you have trouble stepping away to read the latest hospitality news, review new research, or stay on top of what’s trending, try listening instead.

Next up, we take a look at 12 must-listen hospitality podcasts for hoteliers and hospitality leaders on-the-go.

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list. Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.
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