Hospitality management covers anything that you can imagine to do with traveling, tourism, recreation, leisure activities, entertainment, and so on. It is is a vast and diverse field, and an enormous industry that includes hotels, restaurants, music venues, recreation centers, arts facilities, and much, much more.
Hospitality managers are essential in every aspect of this giant industry in order to manage the establishments that keep it running. Without hospitality managers, your hotel sheets would always be itchy, your business conferences wouldn’t be all-inclusive, and your adventures around the world may see a few more hiccups. So long as people are interested in recreation and traveling, there will always be a need for professionals who can combine their interest in recreational and service opportunities with their skills in business and administration. If that sounds like you, then you may want to consider looking into a career in hospitality management.
THE CAREER PATH
Hospitality management is a broad and diverse profession, and can cover a wide array of concentrations that cater to the professional’s interests and passion. There are two primary specialties within the field of hospitality and tourism:
- Lodging Management – Lodging managers are primarily focused on lodging venues and the tasks that are necessary to ensure successful guest lodging experiences. Some lodging facilities can be quite large and serve a variety of purposes. Professionals who are interested in lodging management typically work their way up the ladder from other positions within the industry. A bachelor’s degree is preferred by many employers, and many degrees coincide with professional experience that will make applicants extremely competitive when searching for positions.
- Food Service Management – Food service is as dominating and unique of a specialty within the hospitality industry as lodging. Food service managers must maintain compliance with a strict set of health and safety standards within their facility in addition to other management tasks. Similarly to lodging management, professionals aspiring to manage in the foodservice industry can work their way up the professional ladder by performing in entry-level roles within the industry. In food service management in particular, many employers require some number of years of work experience regardless of educational credentials. Many educational programs will include internships within their curriculum that may help to meet those requirements.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics emphasizes the reliability of hospitality management as a core profession as the industry remains stable in the years to come. They predict that its growth over the next seven years will continue to grow at a rate that is similar to the national average, between 5-8%. There are hospitality and tourism needs in every area that is inhabited by people. Those kinds of options, the diversity and stability, make this an appealing career for many young professionals. It certainly doesn’t hurt that both lodging and food service managers make upwards of $50,000 each year.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
When considering a career in hospitality management, it is important to remember that this particular field requires a collection of business-based strengths in addition to unique knowledge about particular opportunities and passions. The desired specialty of a professional will steer some of their focus. Food service managers must have a detailed knowledge of food service and health standards, for example. Entertainment and arts managers will need to have a cultivated knowledge of the fine arts. Regardless of their specialty, all hospitality managers must have the business skills to know how to budget, set prices and promotions, manage staff, and run an efficient and lucrative business model. They must also have the communication and customer service skills to communicate effectively with their staff and clients.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Most positions in hospitality management require a thorough understanding of the operations of the specific industry that you want to work in as a professional. This understanding can only be gained through years of hands-on work experience. Many institutions provide a hospitality management degree at the associate or bachelor’s level that will provide aspiring professionals with the foundation of those skills through courses such as:
- Financial Management
- Hospitality Marketing
- Food & Beverage Controls
- Hospitality Facilities Management
- Business Law
The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) provides programmatic accreditation to associate and bachelor’s programs that meet a specific set of very high standards to provide students with the best education possible. Professionals who have established an understanding through work experience of their own can validate their competency by obtaining educational or professional credentials relevant to their skills and knowledge. If you are interested in developing a career in hospitality management, it is highly recommended to look at a wide selection of options.
Expect to pay betwen $30,000 and $50,000 for a four-year online bachelor's degree in hospitality management. Certification and training programs can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. When looking into your options, make sure to consider programs that conjoin certifications with degree programs, in addition to hands-on experience, and other benefits that will allow you to be as competitive as possible when it comes time to apply for jobs.