At first glance, the world of hospitality and tourism appears simple.
A hotel, for example, just has to provide clean rooms to guests, along with a few amenities. Nothing complicated about that… right?!
If this truly were all that was needed, every hotel would have five-star customer reviews across the board. And a quick look at the reviews on TripAdvisor or Expedia shows that is not always the case.
So if you want to work in the hospitality and tourism industry, what skills may you need to bring to the table to wow guests and thrive in your career? And how can you begin to acquire these valuable skills?
Professionalism & Attentive Customer Service
The world of hospitality and tourism is all about interpersonal relationships. Different guests will have different expectations of you, and you may need to read their cues to provide proper service.
“Professionalism” is a broad term, but it can include the way you present yourself in dress, posture, and body language, the tone of voice and word choice you use when speaking to guests, and your willingness to go above and beyond for them.
The Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management program at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts includes extensive coursework in a number of hospitality areas. While this program is not tourism-specific, many of the principles and lessons can be applied to the wider hospitality world.
In Escoffier’s Professionalism and Service Standards course**, for example, students may start building their professional skills with coursework in guest services, personal standards, and proper hygiene.
Understanding and Respect for Cultural Differences
In hospitality and tourism, you’re likely to meet people from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. And this means having a healthy sensitivity to these differences to avoid giving offense—or being offended yourself.
Some cultures are more assertive than others, for example. So you may want to understand that a particular guest isn’t being rude—he just comes from a culture that speaks more forcefully. Someone else may come from a culture that discourages complaints. So you’ll have to pay extra attention to ensure that the guest’s needs are being met, since they could be unlikely to speak up if they are unhappy.
In Escoffier’s Business and Professional Communications** course, students may begin to explore these cultural differences and build the skills that can enable them to create a welcoming atmosphere for guests from all backgrounds.
“No two days are ever the same at a hotel! I enjoyed meeting different guests from all around the world and ensuring they had a wonderful stay at my hotel.”*
Ashley Godfrey, Escoffier Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management Instructor
Cost Control and Inventory Management
Depending on your role within the organization, you may be responsible for controlling costs. This could include carefully managing labor expenses if you’re in charge of scheduling, or tracking and managing inventory costs like cleaning supplies, food and beverage operations, and smallwares. These costs can easily eat into the profits of a hospitality business, so keeping them in check is crucial.
Escoffier’s curriculum includes courses in Cost Control and Purchasing**, designed to meet this real-world need. Through carefully purchasing and sales forecasting, a hospitality manager can keep their business well-stocked without overbuying and wasting money.
“Our students are taught the financial aspects of running a successful hospitality operation. Being able to apply this knowledge in the workplace can make them valued employees.”*
Maria Davenport, Escoffier Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management Instructor
Empathy for Your Guests
The foundation of hospitality and tourism is customer service, and the foundation of customer service is empathy. When a guest arrives at their destination after a long day of travel, even a minor issue, like a delay in check-in, doesn’t feel so minor.
By putting yourself in their shoes, you could be better able to offer a helpful solution to the problem. Perhaps you could start by taking their bags and offering them a free cocktail at the bar while they wait, so they can start to relax even though they can’t access their rooms yet.
When customers are unhappy, it’s rarely because they want to make the staff’s life difficult. Something has happened, and it may not have anything to do with your service. Even if it’s not your fault, a little empathy for their situation can go a long way to salvaging the guest’s experience.
A Solution-Oriented Approach to Challenges
A great deal of the work in hospitality and tourism involves problem-solving. The unexpected will pop up, which means the hospitality professional must be able to meet those challenges with quick solutions.
What will you do if the computer reservation system suddenly stops working? What if a guest arrives with a clear confirmation email from your hotel, but their reservation is nowhere to be found in your system? What if your tour company is sold out for the weekend…and then two of your tour guides call in sick?
These problems can happen, and you must be able to come up with solutions that keep the business running and guests happy.
“The Front Desk is the catch-all for complaints at a hotel so managers must be able to problem solve quickly. Students can learn guest service techniques on how to deal with complaints throughout their classes.”*
Ashley Godfrey, Escoffier Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management Instructor
Careful Time Management and Efficient Task Execution
In the hospitality industry, every day is a little different. There may be a set of tasks you’re expected to perform each day, but those can easily be derailed by guest requests and mini emergencies that need your attention.
The key is carefully managing your time and seeking out more efficient ways to get things done. This could include time blocking (grouping similar tasks together to complete them more quickly) or investing in new technology that cuts down on your hands-on time.
In Escoffier’s hospitality degree program, students explore automation technology that may help them to be more efficient in the workplace. With this training, you may find that you can bring major time-saving techniques to your future employer!
Event Planning and Management
These days, events like weddings and corporate retreats have moved out of the hotel ballroom and into a wide variety of venues. So whether you work at a resort, a hotel, an amusement park, a restaurant, a vineyard, or even a state park, events are likely to be part of your professional life.
Regardless of your job title, understanding the logistics behind event planning will allow you to better serve your guests and assist your coworkers. In Escoffier’s Catering and Event Operations course**, students practice the organization and planning necessary to run a successful event. After all, most of the work for catering and events is done long before a single guest arrives!
Teamwork & Communication to Get the Job Done
All hospitality operations thrive on teamwork. From the housekeeping staff to the front desk agents to the general manager, the entire team must pull together consistently to keep the operation running smoothly.
This requires teamwork with a clear chain of command, job expectations, and delegation. No guest should ever hear, “that’s not my job.” They should hear, “oh, let me take care of that for you.” Then the employee can find the right person for the job, or ask for help.
The Confidence To Allow Your Guests to Relax
When guests put themselves in your hands, they want to feel taken care of. If you or your staff answer every question with a halting, bashful response, they won’t feel like you have the situation under control. A confident approach makes guests feel like they can take their hands off the steering wheel. All they need to do is enjoy!
Education can go a long way to helping build your confidence.
With a Hospitality and Restaurant Operations Management degree from Escoffier you may explore many of these topics that can help prepare you for an entry-level management position in the hospitality and tourism industry. You can even complete your degree online with a hands-on industry externship, so you can continue to work full-time while you get your education.
The time to apply is now. Tourism is back in a big way, and those guests need you!
Want to learn more about the hospitality industry? Try these articles next:
- Careers a Hospitality & Restaurant Operations Management Degree Can Prepare You For
- How Do You Learn Hospitality Management Online?
- How to Start a Career in Hospitality Management
*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.
** For specific details, download Escoffier’s course catalogues here.