Hospitality Careers in Hotels, Motels, and Resorts

Do you enjoy meeting new people and providing a warm welcome to your guests? Chances are, you’d enjoy a career in the hospitality industry. Hotels, motels, and inns are an indispensable part of the life of travelers and a big part of our nation’s economy. According to a recent First Research, Hotel and Motel – Lodging Report, the U.S. hospitality industry includes about 30,000 companies that operate 50,000 individual locations, with combined annual revenue over $90 billion.

Lodging establishments can vary significantly in size and in the number of services they provide, and can range from a cozy bed-and-breakfast on the seashore to a glitzy Las Vegas hotel-casino. Many lodging managers work in traditional city and suburban hotels and motels, but off the beaten track many other opportunities exist including resort inns, bed-and breakfast establishments, recreational camps, cruise ships, youth hostels, and RV parks.

A Wide Variety of Opportunities

Within the hospitality industry there are many rewarding career opportunities. The one person who oversees all of a property’s lodging operations is often called a general manager. At larger hotels, one general manager supervises a staff of assistant managers of various departments including office administration, housekeeping, purchasing, security, personnel, marketing and sales, maintenance, food and beverage, and guest recreation and relations. At a casino, the gaming operations may be a major division, and may even drive the business strategy for the entire brand.

A successful lodging manager has to be a “jack of all trades.” Lodging managers have wide-ranging responsibilities for the operation and profitability of the property. They may hire and train staff, and set schedules. Most importantly, a good general manager must have experience and training in every facet of the hotel’s operations, from operating the restaurant to knowing how to contract the linen service to running the web-based reservations system.

In large establishments, front office managers are responsible for the hotel’s guests and may oversee reservations and room assignments, and hire and train the hotel’s front desk staff. Convention services managers oversee meetings, conventions, and special events. Marketing directors and public relations directors are responsible for meeting occupancy goals and coordinating the advertising and promotion of the property. Managers may work with information technology specialists to ensure that the hotel’s computer systems, Internet, and communications networks are creating value. Food and beverage managers supervise the hotel’s restaurant and catering activities.

How’s the Pay?

Earnings of lodging managers vary according to their location, responsibilities, and the segment of the hospitality industry in which they work. According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Occupational Employment Statistics, the median annual earnings of lodging managers is $42,320. The middle fifty percent earn between $31,870 and $58,380. The lowest ten percent earn less than $25,120 and the highest ten percent earn more than $82,510. For highly qualified individuals working in the upper echelons of the industry, the compensation can be significant.

Training and Advancement

While prior experience working in the hospitality industry always helps, management trainees for larger hotels may need a bachelor’s or master’s degree, preferably in hospitality or hotel management. Most large, full-service chains usually look for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in hotel, business, or hospitality management. At smaller properties, especially those with fewer services, the pay may be lower but employers consider applicants with an associate degree or certificate in hotel, restaurant, or hospitality management.

The Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition, job growth will be around five percent a year and the job market will be competitive. The government expects that job seekers holding a college degree in hotel or hospitality management will have better opportunities, particularly at luxury and upscale hotels, cruise ships, and resorts. Shifts towards hotels with limited personal service may result in fewer opportunities for middle managers. Good customer service skills and experience in the hospitality industry, in addition to a college degree, are assets to any job seeker.

Train for a Rewarding Career in Hospitality

To explore career education opportunities, log onto a reputable college directory website and request free information from colleges and career schools with hospitality programs. Compare three or four programs, check out financial aid opportunities, and get a feel for their job placement services. If you find a school that you like, schedule a campus visit or apply online.

If you are ready to move into an exciting new career in hospitality, with the right education you could have a bright future!