The field of study and employment known as hospitality management is a broad field that encompasses all areas of tourism development. Everything from restaurants to hotels and even event planning may fall under the purview of hospitality management. Hospitality management is distinct from non-management roles in the hospitality industry in that it refers to roles that emphasize administrative responsibilities, rather than purely service-oriented roles or roles in the culinary arts of cooking and baking.

Hospitality Management as a Field of Study

What is Hospitality Management

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The word “hospitality” corresponds with the Greek word xenia, a concept of “guest friendship” shown to travelers. In the big-picture sense, hospitality management is all about making guests feel welcome and comfortable in restaurants, resorts, hotels, casinos, tours and attractions.

Students learn these skills through college studies in the hospitality and tourism industries, restaurant and hotel operations, catering, events planning, food service sanitation and hospitality sales and marketing. Some college hospitality degree programs offer specialization tracks in areas of hospitality management such as resort management, hotel financial performance management, hospitality entrepreneurship and digital marketing strategies for the tourism industry.

Although studies in hospitality management have an academic, classroom-based component, hands-on work experience is a crucial part of learning the skills needed to excel in the hospitality industry. If you study hospitality management, you should expect to gain this experience through internships and other field experiences.

The responsibilities of managing a hotel, restaurant, resort or other tourism company are diverse. While you must be able to handle the challenges that are particular to the industries of food service, lodging and tourism development, you also need strong skills in other areas of business and management. Studying hospitality means developing a foundation in subjects like financial accounting, human resources management, marketing and styles of management and leadership.

You can pursue advanced studies in hospitality management, but most professionals in this career path don’t. Among lodging managers, 72 percent have a bachelor’s degree, as do 41 percent of event planners. Most food service managers have no formal college degree.

Working in Hospitality Management

What is it like working in hospitality management? Your job duties vary depending on your precise role – that of restaurant manager vs. lodging manager vs. event organizer, for example – but there’s a lot to like. With new challenges to solve and exciting changes to pursue as your company grows, hospitality is a great career path for those who get bored with doing the same old thing day in and day out. When the goal of your job is to make others feel welcome and comfortable, it’s hard to find that you, too, feel a strong sense of happiness when you achieve that objective. In fact, Entrepreneur ranked hospitality as one of the top 10 happiest industries.

When you work in hospitality management, you may be involved in every aspect of the company’s administration. Job duties range from measuring the company’s financial performance to fielding guest complaints and from developing new programs and initiatives to make guests feel welcome to recruiting and training workers. Because your potential responsibilities are so varied, precisely what it means to work in hospitality management differs from one role and company to another.

If you manage a restaurant, for example, you are responsible for the inventory of the food and beverage ingredients chefs need to cook and the policies – and the staff’s compliance with those policies – regarding food safety and sanitation. Hotel managers are less likely to focus on these matters and instead coordinate housekeeping, maintain and upgrade the hotel’s décor and direct guest services and programs. However, both types of managers have more general administrative duties, including hiring workers, scheduling shifts, managing expenses and budgets and addressing any guest questions or problems.

Generally, the smaller a company is, the more diverse your job duties will be. Larger companies are more likely to divide job duties among specialized leadership roles, such as revenue managers and front-office managers in hotel management or catering managers and kitchen managers in restaurants. Some professionals in hospitality management prefer to focus on one aspect of the industry that most appeals to them, while others enjoy the variety of wearing many different hats in their generalist roles.

Of course, no industry is perfect. Among the drawbacks of working in hospitality management are having to work irregular hours, including nights and weekends, and needing to live in or commute to an area with a robust tourism industry.

Additional Resources

What Is the Difference Between Hotel and Hospitality Management?

What Kind of Jobs Are Available to Someone With This Degree?

What Personality Traits Are Most Important for a Career in Hospitality Management?