Hospitality Management: Put on a happy face!

Could you confidently describe yourself as congenial, calm and warm when in a situation others find stressful? Are you a natural problem-solver, detail-oriented, with lots of initiative and strong communication skills? Would people say you’re a good hostess, always replacing the candy jar in your apartment, or refilling your guests’ drinks? A career in the hospitality industry may be fit for you!

NATURE OF THE WORK

Hospitality managers perform hotel and other tourism establishment operations, including safety and security measures, repair and maintenance, and personnel organization.

They also can set room rates, allocate funds to departments, and ensure that standards for guest service, decor, housekeeping, food quality are met. Some lodging managers work in financial management, monitoring room sales and reservations, overseeing accounting matters, projecting occupancy levels, and deciding when to offer special rates.

Because hotels are open 24/7, night and weekend, and on-call work is common. Hospitality managers need to keep in mind the stress of dealing with disgruntled guests, check-in and check-out procedures, and managing conferences.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Most large, full-service hotel chains usually hire people who have a bachelor’s degree in business, hotel, or hospitality management for management trainee positions; however, a liberal arts degree coupled with experience in the hospitality field may be sufficient. At hotels with fewer luxury services, employers look for an associate degree or certificate in hotel, restaurant, or hospitality management along with experience.

More than 800 community colleges and universities offer programs in hotel, restaurant, or hospitality management leading to an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. Technical institutes and other academic institutions also offer courses leading to diplomas or certificates in hospitality management.

If you are a student, you should expect courses in hotel administration, accounting, economics, marketing, housekeeping, computer training, food service management and catering, and even engineering.

Those seeking employment without a degree but demonstrate potential and experience may be able to participate in management training programs often sponsored by major hotel chains. From there, one can at most expect an entry-level position and work up depending on job performance.

BY THE NUMBERS

People with a college degree in hotel or hospitality management are expected to have the best opportunities at upscale and luxury hotels. Employment in the hospitality industry is expected to grow 12 percent from 2006 to 2016. Of course, the industry is contingent on business, domestic and foreign tourism.

Median annual earnings of hospitality practitioners were $42,320 in 2006.

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