Whether you’re just starting out in the hospitality industry, are looking for a career change, or just want to learn more, now is as good a time as any to grow what you know. In this guide, we explain what hospitality management is, list some of the types of jobs that are available (plus what they pay), provide a simple three-step process for how to go about getting a job within the industry, and much more.
What is hospitality management?
Hospitality management is a career path that typically falls under the hotels, resorts, and lodging industry. Professionals in this field create and run many aspects of the guest experience. They also often manage teams that include front desk staff, housekeeping, and sales. Great hospitality managers care about how much their customers enjoy their experience and are looking for new ways to improve every aspect of a visit whenever possible.
The main types of properties in which hospitality managers often work include hotels, motels, resorts, and condos. But you’ll also find hospitality managers working in casinos, private transportation, retail, food and beverage, and more.
So as you can see, each business type has its own unique needs and customer archetypes. Of course, it’s good to have an idea of which one you’d like to specialize in before you start applying for hospitality manager jobs.
Some general day-to-day activities include communicating across departments, keeping track of budgets and expenses, and hiring new staff. But these, and any additional responsibilities, vary. For example, hospitality managers at large or chain hotels may develop career programs to help other employees get to where they are, just like Hilton’s assistant general manager Meghan Macauley has.
Two main goals of hospitality management professionals are to make customers happy and stay within a given budget. These goals often conflict, such as when a guest would like a full refund for their multi-night stay. It’s up to the hospitality manager to figure out what the property can afford, how they can make it up to the customer, and how the people who directly field these complaints should go about resolving them.
What is the difference between hospitality management and hotel management?
The biggest difference is scope. Hospitality management covers everything from lodging to entertainment to retail. But, as the name implies, hotel management is typically limited to hotels. However, that's not to say that there aren't still a wide variety of hotel property types, brand styles, and opportunities within the field.
What kind of jobs can you get with a degree in hospitality management?
Because hospitality management is such a broad term, it’s good to learn about some of the types of jobs you’d be qualified for before you pursue advanced education. Here’s a sample of a few hospitality management roles, how much you can expect to make, and some of the things you may do when on the job.
1. Hotel general manager
Salary: Average base pay of $89K, according to Glassdoor
Daily activities may include:
- Supervise front desk and housekeeping staff
- Network with suppliers
- Implement financial procedures including expenses, payroll, and forecasting
2. Property operations manager
Salary: Average base pay of $83K, according to Glassdoor
Daily activities may include:
- Bring in group travel leads and new business opportunities
- Assist with property acquisitions as well as daily management
- Improve and maintain a high level of guest satisfaction
3. Restaurant manager
Salary: Average base pay of $45K, according to Glassdoor
Daily activities may include:
- Maintain safety and food-quality standards
- Order supplies for employee and customer use and keep stock levels of those supplies
- Establish relationships with vendors and research new opportunities
Discover how to become a hospitality management professional in 3 steps
If you check off each of these three action items, you’ll put yourself in a good position to land a job and have a competitive edge over other applicants.
1. Get the right hospitality degree and certifications.
The “right” degree or certification varies for everyone. But it should generally be one that you can afford, offers specialization courses within the niche you want to work, and has high value networking opportunities that can get you placed where you want to be. If a degree isn't for you, there are tons of certifications and programs out there, too, such as AHLEI's Hospitality Management Course, Cvent’s Supplier Network Certification, and Cornell's Hospitality Management Certification.
2. Develop your skills while furthering your education.
There are plenty of ways to improve your skills by watching relevant videos, engaging with thought leaders on social media, and listening industry podcasts. Whether or not you have a degree, you should strongly consider adding these resources to your skills development list:
- Lodging Leaders, a weekly podcast covering news, trends, and interviews with successful people in the field.
- Hospitality Academy, a backlog of podcast episodes created to teach listeners about making operations more efficient and more lucrative.
- Bill Quiseng offers customer experience tips based on his three decades working in the luxury hotel industry.
3. Network with targeted brands online.
One of the best ways to effectively network from home is to explore your social media connections and let direct connections in the industry know that you’re interested in hospitality management. Search their connections, too, and ask them for introductions to anyone who works in the hospitality industry.
You can also look for virtual conferences, roundtables, and networking opportunities through professional associations such as The American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Forum Speaker Series. Introduce yourself to speakers, hosts, and participants afterward, letting them know you’re interested in the field and that you’re available.
Must-know tips for working in hospitality management
Here are some ways to impress hiring managers at a hospitality management job interview, or excel at your current position long-term.
- Get to know the ins and outs of every department you manage. For example, if you work in a hotel, you have to be very familiar with catering, event planning, front desk operations, etc.
- Keep tabs on the latest news from the World Health Organization and your country’s Department of Tourism so you know the latest on how to keep your employees and customers safe.
- Be familiar with cutting-edge marketing and business intelligence software so you can be more efficient when on the job.
- Create or gather templates for daily tasks each department is responsible for so you can standardize the workflow across all areas and train new hires faster.
- Develop a culture of listening and regularly collecting feedback from guests and implementing it to elevate their experiences. You can do this offline through incentivized feedback cards or online with free social media monitoring tools such as Social Mention.
Now you know more about hospitality management!
Now that you know what hospitality management is and how you can get work in this field, the next step is learning how to excel in it. Although a lot of it involves operating teams, tracking finances, and marketing to guests, the most celebrated hospitality leaders know that true success in the field requires a combination of mind and heart. This, in addition to the education, skills, and tips learned here, will have you on your way to a great career in no time!