The hospitality industry is rapidly changing. While technology, social media, and customer expectation have a significant impact on growth and development, we are now living in a time where health and safety are at the forefront of the business. The industry may continue to look different, but will always be needed and relevant. Whether you are looking for an overview, or are considering an education in the field, this introduction to hospitality management will be a helpful resource for you. Spend 10 minutes reading through the 11 sections, or spend up to 2 hours studying the additional resources.
Table of Contents
Section 1: Hospitality Management Overview
The term “hospitality management” includes many different types of jobs. In fact, the function and job responsibility can vary greatly from one career to the next.
However, these careers also have a lot in common. For example, there is a focus on customer service. Hospitality managers work to ensure that customers have an excellent experience. To do that, hospitality managers oversee the administrative functions of many businesses. This includes casinos, hotels, restaurants, and resorts.
Below are a few examples of job responsibilities that are common in hospitality management.
Customer Service – It is a hospitality manager’s duty to provide each customer with excellent service. Great service should occur from the moment they step foot on the property until the moment they leave. For example, this might include meeting and greeting customers and addressing their complaints.
Budget Management – Hospitality managers are responsible for dividing funds for various departments. They must also approve expenses. Keeping things on budget is a critical job as well. The main goal is to ensure each department has the money it needs to run smoothly while making sure expenses are held in check.
Managing Departments – Many hospitality managers oversee multiple departments. This might include food and beverage service, housekeeping, and maintenance. It often falls to the hospitality manager to set hours for workers and oversee payments to workers too. They also set workers’ schedules.
Oversee Hiring and Recruitment – Hospitality managers are often responsible for recruiting new workers. They fill vacant positions with qualified workers as well. They also have the task of firing workers that aren’t able to fulfill the duties of their job.
What do you think?
Which job responsibility in hospitality management is most interesting to you?
Additional Resources for Hospitality Management Overview
- Lodging Managers Occupational Outlook Handbook (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners Occupational Outlook Handbook (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Food Service Managers Occupational Outlook Handbook (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- A Hotel is Just a Building|Bashar Wali (TED Talk)
Section 2: Hospitality Industry Segments
The sectors of hospitality business vary widely. On the one hand, there are glamorous five-star hotels. On the other hand, there are neighborhood bars. The responsibilities might be a little different for these kinds of businesses. However, they are still in the business of providing an enjoyable experience for their customers.
Here’s a short list of the most popular sectors of hospitality business today.
Food Service – Food service includes any business that serves food to customers. This can be a fast-food restaurant. This can also be an exclusive fine dining restaurant. Hotel bars, caterers, and food trucks fall into food service as well.
Lodging – Lodging refers to establishments that offer overnight accommodations to guests. This ranges from high-end hotels to RV parks. This is one of the largest segments of the hospitality industry
Event Planning – Event planning refers to the process of planning and carrying out events. Weddings are one of the most common events. Corporate events are common as well. Event planning requires a large-scale effort to make sure the event runs smoothly. It also involves many different people. This might include waitstaff, cooks, bartenders, photographers, and entertainment, to name a few.
Travel and Tourism – The travel and tourism segment accounts for billions of dollars in revenue each year. Workers at historic sites are considered travel and tourism employees. So are hotel workers, travel agents, and airline customer service representatives.
Recreation – Jobs in the recreation sector are also part of the hospitality industry. These workers are often in direct contact with tourists and provide a service to them. For example, a white water rafting guide is a good example of a recreation worker. Usually, these workers have specialized training that allows them to provide a specific service to customers.
What do you think?
Which sector of the hospitality management business do you plan to pursue?
Additional Resources for Hospitality Industry Segments
Section 3: Business in Hospitality: Accounting and Finance
Interacting with customers is a huge part of hospitality management. Many behind-the-scenes tasks are important. This includes accounting and finance.
The importance for hospitality management for managers to have a good grasp of accounting and finance cannot be understated. There are specific tasks they must complete. There are specific policies and procedures to follow too.
For example, a hospitality manager is responsible for setting and maintaining budgets. This means they must have the skills to track expenses, track income, and resolve the books.
As another example, hospitality managers are often in charge of payroll. Again, being able to track these expenses and maintain accurate payroll records is crucial to the success of any hospitality business.
Likewise, hospitality managers must present finance numbers to the management team, owners, and other stakeholders. For example, a common finance duty is to create monthly financial reports that show how the business is doing.
Based on this kind of information, stakeholders can determine the direction of the business. This is just one reason why it’s so critical that hospitality managers be able to provide accurate and detailed financial records.
What do you think?
How are accounting and finance an imperative part of hospitality management?
Additional Resources for Business in Hospitality
Section 4: Information Systems in Hospitality Management
The role of information technology in hotel management is becoming increasingly important. As more and more online hotel management opportunities arise, the need for technology for hospitality management is at an all-time high.
Information systems play a critical role in the hospitality industry. Travelers can book their lodging, cars, and entertainment online. In many cases, they can use apps to do so. The role of information technology in hotel management has also expanded to storing data about customers. That data, like their age, date of birth, and credit card details, allows hospitality businesses to tailor their experiences to their customers.
For example, let’s say you’re a 30-year-old man that’s booked an all-inclusive trip to Mexico. Let’s assume you booked the trip using a travel app. Using the information collected by the app, the hotel can determine an approximate time you’ll check in based on when your flight is scheduled to land. Based on your age, the concierge can recommend places to get a drink. Using your inputs for activities you enjoy, the hotel can recommend personalized recreational opportunities.
Additionally, you can use apps to pay for accommodations, order room service, and leave reviews about your experience. All this can be done without even leaving your poolside lounger!
Hotels, restaurants, airlines, and other hospitality-related companies can also use digital information to improve their customers’ experiences. For example, a restaurant might see that a new dinner offering isn’t very popular. This allows them to revamp the menu or eliminate the dish entirely, thereby reducing costs.
In any business, there is no such thing as too much information. Information systems help hospitality businesses gather tons of details about their customers so they can deliver improved experiences to those customers.
What do you think?
What technology would you like to become more familiar with that is used in hospitality management?
Additional Resources for Information Systems
- How Information Technology Has Affected the Tourism and Hospitality Industry (Entre)
- Information Technology in the Hotel Industry: 5 Things You Didn’t Know (Capterra)
Section 5: Hospitality Industry Terminology
There are far more terms in the hospitality industry than we can outline here. However, we’ve listed several terms that you will frequently encounter in hospitality management.
Allotment – An allotment refers to a block of rooms reserved by a tour company, group, or wholesaler.
Average Daily Rate (ADR) – ADR refers to the revenue created by the number of rooms booked at a hotel. It is calculated by dividing income from booked rooms by the total number of rooms that are booked.
Capital – Capital is money or physical assets used to create a good or service.
Content Management System (CMS) – A CMS is used to build and manage a website. CMS’s are used by resorts, hotels, restaurants, and many other types of hospitality-related businesses.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – A CRM is used to automate communications with customers. It helps hospitality managers get in touch and stay in touch with customers. For example, a CRM is used to contact a hotel guest before they arrive to remind them of their stay, and after they check out to ask the customer how their stay was.
Human Resource Management – Human resource management is the practice of overseeing workers, helping workers maximize their performance, and ensuring that employees work to obtain the company’s goals.
Markup – Markup is the difference between the cost of a service, like a meal at a restaurant, and the price charged to the consumer.
Overhead – Overhead refers to the expenses paid to operate a business. Overhead does not refer to direct costs of creating a good or service. Instead, it refers to things like rent or mortgage payments and utility bills.
Point of Sale System – A point of sale system tracks sales of goods and services.
Strategic Management – Strategic management is the practice of creating long-term plans that result in meeting company goals. Hospitality managers are responsible for monitoring these plans, analyzing their successes and failures, and making changes as needed to ensure the company is on track to meet its objectives.
What do you think?
Which of these hospitality management terms are new to you?
Additional Resources for Hospitality Industry Terminology
Section 6: Emerging Industry Trends
The hospitality industry has changed a lot over the years. And with it have come many new trends. The importance of these trends cannot be understated. Though many trends come and go, others play a long-lasting role in how hospitality businesses interact with their customers.
Below is an outline of some of the most important trends in the hospitality industry.
Technology matters – Guests at hotels and resorts want the convenience of being able to check in using their phones. More than that, they want to be able to order drinks and food from their phones. They also want fast internet service to accommodate things like multiple streaming devices.
Hospitality businesses are increasingly social – If a guest has a great time at a hotel, they can instantly tell their followers on social media. If they have a bad time, they can talk about that too. Businesses in this industry are quickly becoming more and more involved in social media to engage with customers in real-time. This helps them promote the positive reviews guests leave and quickly address negative ones. Rapid responses to customers is a critical aspect of PR in hotel and resort management.
Hospitality staff is ditching basic tasks – Guests today don’t mind checking in digitally. They also don’t mind if their room service is delivered by a robot! Rather than doing these tasks, human staff members are increasingly available to tend to more personalized duties, like arranging transportation and activities for guests.
Showing off for millennials – The largest consumers of hospitality goods and services are millennials. This being the case, hotels, resorts, and other businesses are focusing their marketing strategies squarely on people between the ages of 18-34.
What do you think?
What trends have you seen in the hospitality business?
Additional Resources for Emerging Industry Trends
- 5 Major Trends Shaping the Hospitality Industry (OpenKey)
- 2019 Top Hospitality Trends (EHL)
- The Next 5 Years: Future Hospitality Industry Trends You Need to Know (SocialTables)
Section 7: Impact on the Economy
The economic significance of the hospitality industry cannot be understated. And while economic trends are constantly in flux, one thing that remains the same is that travel and tourism will continue to contribute billions of dollars to the global economy.
In fact, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2018, the hospitality industry contributed 10.4 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP). Thus, the economic significance of the hospitality industry is revealed.
But the impact on the economy can be examined on a much finer level:
Direct Impact – Hospitality-related businesses like hotels and restaurants generate direct revenue from customers from hotel rooms, food orders, and beverage orders. Likewise, the income people employed in the hospitality industry make is considered a direct economic impact.
Indirect Impact – The indirect economic impact of the hospitality industry includes the income people earn in related industries. For example, the income earned by an internet company that provides service to a hotel is considered an indirect economic impact of the hospitality industry.
Induced Impact – There are economic benefits generated when people employed in the hospitality industry spend their income on local purchases. For example, a bartender that buys groceries on her way home from work is creating an induced economic impact by spending her wages.
Fiscal Impact – Taxes that are collected from hospitality-related sales are referred to as fiscal economic impacts. Taxes are collected by local, state, and federal agencies, and those proceeds are then used to fund public services and projects of all kinds.
What do you think?
How do you think the hospitality industry will be affected by COVID-19? What factors will influence its growth?
Additional Resources for Impact on Economy
- Why is the Hospitality Industry Important? (Kendall College)
- Economic Trends in Hospitality (Houston Chronicle)
- The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Hotel Industry (Hospitality Technology)
Section 8: Tourism Development
The hospitality industry is highly dependent on tourism. In times like the pandemic of 2020, tourism declines can cause significant and long-lasting impacts on the hospitality industry. As such, tourism development is of the utmost importance.
There are many functions of tourism development.
First, tourism development seeks to encourage travel to a particular place or locality. For example, a state’s tourism board might develop a new ad campaign touting their state’s many recreational opportunities as a way to encourage people to visit their state.
Second, tourism development might include funding to pay for improvements to recreational areas. As an example, residents of a county might vote for a tax increase to help pay for improvements at a local park, museum, or another attraction that might draw in more tourists.
Third, in many cases, tourism development seeks to recognize the importance of the environment. That is, tourism shouldn’t come at the expense of irreversible environmental damage. So, one of the important functions of tourism development is figuring out how to balance the needs of tourists with the needs of the earth too.
Lastly, a large part of tourism development is seeking partnerships in the private sector that can benefit tourism. For example, a state parks department might solicit large companies in their state for financial assistance for upkeep of tourist locations. In return, these companies might benefit from signage and other advertising at those locations that tout their commitment to the tourism industry.
What do you think?
How do you think tourism will change in the months and years to come? What do you think the hospitality industry can do to help tourism development?
Additional Resources for Tourism Development
- Tourism Development (Solimar)
Section 9: Career Path for Those in Hospitality Management
There are many different career paths you can take in hospitality management. Each path requires slightly different personal and professional characteristics. Below are a few examples of careers in this industry.
Kitchen Manager – Kitchen managers are responsible for back-of-house operations at a restaurant. They oversee day-to-day operations, manage kitchen staff, and work with the head chef to manage the kitchen staff.
Food and Beverage Manager – As the name indicates, these workers are in charge of overseeing businesses such as cafes, restaurants, and bars. They are typically responsible for front-of-house operations, like ensuring that customers have a pleasant experience.
Hotel General Manager – This job requires you to manage a large staff, multiple budgets, and ensure the smooth day-to-day operation of the hotel.
Housekeeping Manager – The housekeeping manager is responsible for ensuring that the housekeeping staff properly cleans and maintains private rooms and public spaces in a hotel. They manage the staff, oversee budgets, and work with other managers to make certain each department is doing its best to achieve company goals.
Event Manager – An event manager specializes in planning, organizing, and executing social events. Event managers work directly with clients to devise a plan. They also manage a large and diverse staff to make sure the plan is executed to perfection.
What do you think?
Which hospitality management career path do you most hope to pursue?
Additional Resources for Career Path for Those in Hospitality Management
- What Can I Do With My Degree in Hospitality Management? (Prospects UK)
- What Can You Do With a Hospitality Management Degree? (University of the Potomac)
Section 10: Typical Hospitality Management Courses
Hospitality management courses are extremely varied. This is because the hospitality industry includes such a wide range of occupations.
However, there are some core classes you can expect to take regardless of your area of concentration. Some of these courses are listed below.
Accounting – Accounting is one of the most important courses you can take. You’ll learn basic accounting principles. You’ll also become familiar with essential accounting software. There are usually units of study on pricing and marketing too.
Marketing – An essential part of hospitality management is marketing the goods and services provided to customers. Marketing courses explore everything from new trends in marketing to planning promotions. You’ll learn the essentials of advertising and explore how to analyze consumer wants as well.
Interpersonal communication – Whether you’re a bartender or a property manager or something in between, you need to be able to communicate effectively with other people. You also need to have excellent listening skills and the ability to put yourself in other peoples’ shoes.
Resort management – This course is typical of many hospitality management programs. You will learn how to manage facilities of all types, including hotels and restaurants. Industry regulations are typically discussed, as are legal issues. You’ll likely also learn about staffing and gain skills needed to identify the best candidates to fill positions at the resort.
Human resources management – As a hospitality manager, you’ll oversee a staff of workers. This means you must have the knowledge and skills to make the staff as successful as possible. This includes identifying staffing requirements. It also means putting staff members in positions in which they can be successful.
Additional Resources for Typical Hospitality Management Courses
- 10 Great Free Courses for Hospitality Management
- 5 Hotel Management Courses That Give You the Edge (SocialTables)
- Learn Hospitality Management Online (edX)
- Hospitality Management Certificate Program (Cornell)
Section 11: Types of Hospitality Management Degrees and Descriptions
The hospitality management field is very diverse. Because of this, there are many different types of degrees you can pursue to prepare for a career in hospitality management.
Associate’s Degree in Hospitality Management
An associate’s degree is a two-year degree that serves as an introduction to hospitality management. Usually, around 60 semester credit hours are required to get an associate’s degree. Of those 60 hours, about half are general education courses (i.e., math, science, and language arts, to name a few) and the other half are courses focused on hospitality.
The hospitality-related courses you take will be largely the same regardless of the area of emphasis you pursue. That is, students that want to enter Hotel Management will take many of the same courses as those that want to enter Food and Beverage Management.
This is because of the introductory nature of an associate’s degree. While there will be some specialized courses you take, by and large, they will be general hospitality courses.
For example, associate’s degree students in hospitality management will likely take courses like Introduction to Hospitality, Accounting, and Introduction to Marketing.
Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management
A bachelor’s degree is the next step in your hospitality management education. It is a four-year degree that typically requires 120 semester credit hours to graduate.
If you already have an associate’s degree, getting a bachelor’s degree should take about two years. This is because you’ve already completed many of the general education courses required to graduate. You also likely have a number of hospitality courses that will apply towards fulfilling the bachelor’s degree requirements.
Since this is a higher level of learning, there are many more courses related to hospitality. Many of these courses are also at a higher level.
For example, if you’re pursuing a specialization in event planning, you might take courses like Introduction to Event Planning, Advanced Event Planning, and Event Budgeting. You might also take Event Marketing, Corporate Event Planning, and Client Relations courses.
Master’s Degree in Hospitality Management
A master’s degree in hospitality management represents the next level of advanced studies. These programs require anywhere from 30 to 45 semester credit hours, which can take from 2-3 years to complete.
A master’s degree is completely focused on hospitality studies. There are no general education courses, unless you need to meet a prerequisite, like fulfilling a math requirement.
Courses at this level are even more specific than they are at the bachelor’s degree level. For example, if you’re interested in Hotel Management, you might take a course in Casino and Resort Management as part of your studies.
As another example, if you’re pursuing a specialization in event management, you might take a course on Venue Management.
Doctorate in Hospitality Management
A doctorate or Ph.D. in hospitality management is the highest degree you can earn in the field. These degrees are very highly specialized and focus more on individual study and research than they do on classroom work.
Doctoral programs can take anywhere from three to five years to complete. Most of that time is spent on researching a specific topic of interest. So, for example, if your area of interest is food and beverage management, you might research how to improve customer service with the use of a revised digital ordering system.
The research done at this level is presented to a committee of experts in a dissertation defense. It is the last step in completing the requirements for graduation with a doctorate. Typically, students that pursue this level of education wish to become professors at a college or university. Likewise, a doctorate is good to have if you intend to seek a high management position in a hospitality business.
Additional Resources for Types of Hospitality Management Degrees and Descriptions
- What Does It Mean to Study Hospitality Management? (WorldWideLearn)
- Introduction to Digital Marketing
- Introduction to Real Estate
- Introduction to Interior Design
- Introduction to Nutrition
- Introduction to Investing
- Introduction to Economics
- Introduction to Finance
- Introduction to Entrepreneurship
- Introduction to Business Administration
- Introduction to Accounting
- Introduction to Philosophy