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Hospitality & Tourism Careers

Starting a Career in the Hospitality & Tourism Sector

The hospitality and tourism world is a huge and exciting world to enter where services are provided but great benefits can also be reaped. The sector is wide ranging covering hotels and cruises, airlines and travel, restaurants and catering, sports venues and centres, theme parks and historical attractions.

Hospitality & Tourism Careers

Explore the industry

The leisure industry is huge both in the numbers involved, the revenue it generates and in its potential impact on the environment, which needs to be managed. Studying the hospitality and tourism industry develops an education and experience which is satisfying and truly transferable into many other walks of life and industries.

View the complete list of hospitality & tourism courses here

What's in for you...

The benefits to individuals working within the hospitality and tourism industry might include discounts on travel and hotels, visiting new places and having new experiences, seeing the world affordably or enjoying free perks such as spa treatments, restaurant meals and hotel rooms.

The choice of job roles within the industry is enormous. Some people very quickly find their niche and progress in one area, others enjoy moving into different areas of employment, so gaining and using different skills and knowledge sets. Booking to the legalities of travel, food hygiene to health issues, management to accounting, environmental issues to ecology, are just the tip of the iceberg in hospitality and tourism possibilities.

Hot spots of the industry

A career in this sector might see people working and thriving in a large, cosmopolitan city or on a small island, managing a small boutique hotel or being executive chef for a cruise liner. People looking to undertake courses in hospitality and tourism will, ultimately, be looking for a management role which will see them hiring staff, setting rates, dealing with security, maintaining buildings or ships and above all making a profit and dealing with customers.

Do you have what it takes to start a career in hospitality?

Whatever form of training is chosen and whatever the ultimate goal, working and progressing in the hospitality and tourism sector requires a certain skill set.

8 Must-have Skills in the Hospitality Sector

1. Communication Skills

Maybe the most important is customer service combined with good communication skills. This industry is aimed at the customer and at meeting their needs and guaranteeing their comfort, safety and enjoyment. Being able to communicate effectively is a vital tool in providing great customer service.

2. Teamwork

Working in hospitality and tourism almost always involves working as part of a team. A healthy emotional intelligence, patience and a sense of humour form the backbone of good teamwork.

3. Flexibility

This goes along with the ability to be flexible, as different environments, different backgrounds, different shifts and the unexpected all have to be dealt with. Adapting to changing environments and various customer demands take a skilled and open minded professional with the ability to juggle multiple tasks at a time, always with a smile on their face.

4. Problem Solving Skills

A successful manager will need the ability to make informed and confident decisions and be able to solve problems. Finding the right solution in due time and being able to anticipate and manage customers' expectation are key abilities for professionals working in the services industry.

5. Language Skills

A knowledge of languages is not an essential skill but is always going to be useful and opens up a wider world. Knowing your customer often means being familiar with their culture and customs and, ultimately, speaking their language.

6. Budgeting skills

A good grounding in IT is essential, however, all hospitality and tourism industries depend on it. Certainly, at supervisory or management level, numeracy skills will be vital for managing payrolls, predicting financial outcomes, controlling stock, setting budgets and keeping profit and loss accounts.

7. Commitment

One of the key skills in this branch is certainly commitment to the mission of the business you represent. Putting customer service the core of the business means being dedicated to excellence - something that all successful hotel owners, restaurant managers and hospitality staff have in common.

8. Professionalism

Great hospitality and tourism ventures distinguish themselves through professionalism and an impeccable service at all levels: communication with customers, organisational skills, competitive packages, smart marketing campaigns and openness to innovation. All great elements that make a successful hospitality player are rooted in professionalism and a true passion for working in this sector.

Professional training courses to support you in your hospitality career

So what is the best route either into or for progression in hospitality and tourism? Having a qualification is not necessary but it proves commitment to employers and lets them know you are serious about moving forward in your field. Many people enter the sector after enjoying holiday and weekend employment and then deciding to remain, going on to undertake part-time courses on day release, in the evenings or even online. Others decide the degree route is for them.  The training formats available include workshops, in-house training and distance learning. Reputable courses will finish with an exam leading to some form of certificate or accreditation and will have a time constraint within which the course has to be finished.

Over 100 institutions across the United Kingdom offer courses in hospitality and tourism. These range from one-off seminars to degrees and post-graduate courses. The larger players in the industry have their own management and graduate schemes open to new or existing employers. Degrees gained might be a BA or a BSc. Degree courses tend to run for four years as a comprehensive course should offer at least two long term placement periods within the industry. Whichever route is taken a course should include elements of business management and marketing, financial planning, managing human resources and the law.

Vocational training to help you develop practical skills

There are vocational courses, tailored to specific jobs, such as training to be a chef or a travel agent which will offer a certificate of qualification. Other programmes will award associate degrees in tourism. Graduate degrees often offer a secondary subject such as a language or business skills to enhance employment prospects. Those looking to work in the museum or heritage side of the industry might even find a degree in the arts or classics is their way in to employment. Graduates already working within the sector might decide to undertake a post-graduate degree in a more specialised area such as marketing, ecotourism or rural development.

Find Hotel Management courses here

Whether its a part time or a degree course there are subjects in common which could apply to all areas of the sector. A good training course in the hospitality and tourism area should be looking at the hospitality environment, sound financial understanding, managing change and problems, supervisory and people skills, ethics, risk management and health and safety.

More specific demands might be marketing, financial accounting, food and drinks management and business administration. A growing area of study and a topical issue, is the effects of tourism on the environment and ways of running a 'greener' industry. A successful course will have laid the foundations for an understanding of the workplace within the leisure business and industry.

The government backed charity, the Institute of  Hospitality, is a professional membership body for the hospitality and tourism sector, which provides targeted qualifications. Their HAVE scheme is recognised by the Department of Education and provides support for students during training and in the process of acquiring and progressing through a career. They also ensure a focus is placed on work experience as it is almost impossible to have an effective training in the hospitality world without some hands on placements.

Continuous professional development

Once within a career the Institute of Hospitality also provides a continuing professional development scheme, enabling its members to keep up to date, gather new skills and demonstrate commitment to improving their CV and work effectiveness. This scheme involves training courses, the use of coaches or mentors, work shadowing and maybe a secondment into a different area of the industry. The Institute's focused training and nationally accredited qualifications form part of the People 1st strategy and are recognised within the United Kingdom's hospitality and tourism industries. Their Level 3 Diploma develops the business and management skills necessary for a new supervisory role whilst the Level 4 Diploma extends these skills further and is designed to suit the roles of general managers or operations managers.

Career development options

Whether starting out or already within the industry there are lots of opportunities available for training courses. Being well qualified and developing further skills will always be an advantage in a competitive employment market. Specific skills will also be especially valued such as in health and safety, risk management or the hugely important customer service area. Having a qualification in these areas on a CV might just provide the edge for future employment prospects.

A successful career in the hospitality and tourism industry gives the satisfaction of providing a valuable service to travellers and tourists, whilst also giving the potential benefits of travelling and experiencing new places or activities, as well as significant discounts on travel and lodgings.

Last updated: 28 Nov 2014

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