I have worked in the hospitality industry for over 30 years. I would tell you exactly how long I have worked in this industry, but you’re pretty smart and I know you can add. But I’m not going to. Because if I do you’ll then realize just how ancient I am. I will let you know, however, that I started in the industry when I was four with a well attended tea party. My party guests were very well mannered and light eaters.
… Anyway, I’ll get back to our topic. Why would anyone want to work in the hospitality field?
- You can start a career immediately.
Can’t afford to further your education? The hospitality field is one of the last fields that do not require a college degree to progress into management. Most candidates do qualify for entry level positions. After you get the job it depends on how well you do the job and how far you want to progress. However, there are some qualities that you do need to be successful in the field. One is you that you have to like people. Not just think that you like people. Genuinely like people. Sometimes people are hard to like. Something strange happens to people when something goes wrong with their food and/or lodging. Some people turn in to creatures from the back lagoon. It’s not pretty. So you definitely have to have a basic like of people. Two, you have to like change. What I mean by change is working different hours, days and times. You also have to learn new menus and products at a drop of a hat. You need to be flexible to the point that you feel you are related to Gumby or that you are changing into a different life form without boundaries. Finally, you need to be able to work hard. I know, boring, but true. This is why you need to like the work you do.
- Hospitality is everywhere.
The Hospitality industry is worldwide. Human beings need food & drink and shelter wherever they happen to be. There are a ton of different venues. You can work in hotels, restaurants, casinos, or anywhere that serves food and gives folks a place to stay. You can work in whatever venue floats your boat. (You could even work on the boat!) Everyone has its different savior faire. This is where internships have value. If you happen to be pursuing a hospitality degree, take advantage of internships. You won’t know if you like something until you have tried. Completing internships, in different venues, is a great way to find the part of the industry where you feel that you fit best. And to be successful in this industry you have to like what you do.
- Great career progression.
How far do you want to progress in your career? Can’t stand having a boss? Get hospitality experience and open your own place. Want to do different jobs? Ask the manager to train you in as many departments as possible. Lots of Vice Presidents have started as dishwashers, servers or in some sort of hourly position. I started as a set up girl. Pretty cool, huh? Now, I’m no Vice President but I am the Director of Recruiting and that’s not too shabby. Want to be a General Manager or a Multi Unit Manager? Just go ask someone in your hospitality company, or a hospitality company that interests you, what you need to do to make that happen. Remember experience is everything. Get on the training team. Go support that restaurant or hotel opening. Take those stretch assignments. Gain that experience you need in order to reach your goals.
Some companies perks are better then others. But most of the hospitality companies give free food and non-alcoholic drinks to management. Free food, totally awesome. Talk about taking a bite out of your home food bill. You may also be able to eat out more often because of the food discounts you get. Many companies give their team members at least a 20% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks. I know when I’m buying I like to recommend we eat in a restaurant owned by my company. I know the value of a buck. Hospitality folks usually know how to have fun. Test it out. I’ve been to plenty of hospitality conferences then go to with my hospitality brother’s and sister’s. My actual sister is a scientist so I have attended scientific events and yes there is a big difference on the “fun” level. Not those scientists aren’t a good time… they’re just more subdued than hospitality folks.
- Lights. Camera. Action!
Believe it or not – you are on a stage in the dining room. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to Hollywood or Broadway. The hospitality atmosphere is a bit different than in other industries. You can work in a 5 star resort that looks like a palace or a restaurant that feels like Italy. You can work on a cruise ship where everyone is there to have fun and has no worries. You pick your atmosphere and set your own stage.
- People will always need to eat.
I haven’t read any reports from futurists that people won’t need to eat in 2050. So a safe bet would be that folks are set going to eat out. Now, I realize that the economy does affect the hospitality industry, but people may be more aware of prices and change their habits. In general, people are still going to eat out and they are still going to take vacations. If you are in a segment of the hospitality industry negatively affected by the economy, switch to another segment. You have transferable skills.
Now go out there and start a career! Eat’n Park is a great place to start. Check out our website at http://www.eatnpark.com