The field of hospitality management is at once narrow and broad. Often established as a subfield within business and management, hospitality management’s focus on providing welcoming, comfortable experiences for guests of the tourism industry makes it much more specialized than your typical degree program or career path in business administration. Yet these principles are versatile, finding applications in many different roles across the tourism industry and, in today’s economy, in nontraditional roles in other areas of business and marketing. With a hospitality degree, your potential career paths include hotel manager, restaurant manager, event planner, attraction manager and resort manager. The sky is the limit, and highly experienced workers with a degree in hospitality management often rise to senior-level and top executive roles.
Have you ever thought about the logistics of running a hotel? Lodging managers must be acutely aware of all of the complexities of setting rates for rooms, coordinating reservations and room assignments, scheduling staff to prepare rooms and check in guests, billing matters and responding to guests’ questions, complaints or requests. They also handle the behind-the-scenes work that most guests don’t even think of – things like setting budgets, monitoring spending and examining the financial performance of the hotel. Whether you run a simple bed and breakfast with a handful of rooms or a luxury 5-star hotel, succeeding as a lodging manager requires strong skills in a variety of areas – such as listening and customer service, problem-solving and organization and business and leadership, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
A college degree isn’t required for all hotel manager roles, but full-service hotels typically prefer candidates with some college background in hotel or hospitality management, the BLS reported. In fact, 72 percent of lodging managers have a bachelor’s degree.
While chefs should be experts at creating delectable culinary dishes, coordinating the daily operations and long-term growth of a restaurant falls under a different job title: food service manager. A restaurant manager’s job duties are diverse. They order ingredients and equipment, hire and train waitstaff and food preparation workers, schedule shifts, oversee the taste, presentation and portion size of all dishes and promptly and professionally respond when guests voice questions or concerns. A good restaurant manager has enough culinary knowledge to work with chefs to plan menus and solve problems, often having years of work experience as a cook themselves.
In restaurants that host banquets or provide catering services, restaurant managers are responsible for coordinating these aspects of hospitality management, as well.
Pulling off a major conference, corporate meeting, wedding or social event is a challenging balancing act – but for the skilled professionals who plan events for a living, it’s just another day on the job. Event planners are responsible for managing every minute detail of the meeting or social gathering, so they need excellent organization and communication skills. Since making the guests of an event feel welcome is crucial to making the event a success, a hospitality background is an excellent educational choice for this career path, the BLS reported. You could also prepare for this career path with a specialized degree in meeting and event management, or with a more general program of study like business management.
A good event planner is also a good negotiator and problem solver, able to coordinate the right services for the right price so that the client for whom the event is being planned is happy and that any obstacles that may arise are resolved quickly.
Tourism and Attraction Manager
Beyond the three most common roles in hospitality management are some less conventional career paths. A huge part of the tourism industry is the attractions people travel to visit, leading them to stay in hotels and dine at new restaurants in the first place. If you have ever wanted to manage a theme park, theater or tourism surrounding a natural attraction, there’s a whole specialized career path perfect for your interests. In fact, some colleges – usually located in regions where theme parks and other tourist attractions are plentiful – offer specialized tracks in the theme park and attraction management subfield of hospitality management. In these programs, students learn about risk management and product development in theme parks, operational issues unique to these entities and the management of the guest and employee experience in theme parks.
As in other areas of hospitality management, internship experiences are crucial in the area of attraction management.
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Resorts combine aspects of hotels and attractions into a place where guests don’t just sleep but plan to spend the bulk of their stay on-site. Successful resorts, then, combine elements of lodging management with restaurant management, attraction management and event and entertainment planning. Guests expect more from a resort than from a regular full-service hotel. To keep them entertained and happy, managers must make sure guests’ stays are full of delicious food and drinks, exciting entertainment options and on-site or nearby attractions. Luxury resorts often offer numerous bars and restaurants, spas and activities or shows throughout the day and in the evening, as well as coordinating off-site excursions and paid activities for guests.
Luxury resorts are usually located in areas with mild weather year-round – which means that, although this job may require you to relocate, you can expect to live and work in a pleasantly temperate region.