Why I believe the hospitality sector should be a career of choice.
“The motel…. It’s on fire! (dramatic pause)… MUM!!!” if you’re of a certain age you’ll remember that, and you are probably thinking that it’s quite an odd way to start a blog – but bear with me.
I was reading an article yesterday that claimed a massive percentage of today’s school leavers are dismissing a career in hospitality, and it got me thinking about what ignited my fire for the 20 years I spent in such a variety of roles in one of the most wonderous sectors in the world.
Back in the eighties, I would watch ‘Crossroads’ with my grandparents so I was always fascinated by hotels (even wobbly ones), an early school project I delivered was centred around a make-believe hotel, and my first ever job was with Forte. I was 18, terrified and excited all at the same time. The hotel was on a road I had never even driven up before. My interview had been in a hard hat and wellies as the building work hadn’t been completed and I didn’t even really know what I would be doing. I was going to be a Receptionist. First job out of sixth form, and I’d done it mostly on my own (thanks for the heads up about the job Andi, I’m not sure I ever said thank you). That’s where the real fire was ignited.
The hospitality industry is unique, Hotels even more so. A hotel company is its own little eco-system – there is nothing that can’t be done. You can do anything, and your career can take any path. As your career progresses, the pay gets better too! Your career path can be so varied – in my time I’ve worked in Front Office, Reservations, Conference & Banqueting, Yield Management (remember that?!), Sales, Revenue Management, HR , Training, Commercial Training, Food and Beverage and more training. None of that would have been possible for me in another sector, the variety just isn’t there. Where else can you sit at the same desk for two years and work for three different hotel companies?
Hospitality is great at teaching you some great skills quickly.
Dealing with change
Thinking on your feet
Just a few of the skills you learn, for free, when you take a job in hospitality. You can work anywhere in the world too. So why is the career not more appealing?
I believe there are a few reasons for this. The first one is that hospitality is seen as a premium career in so many countries outside of the UK. It may surprise you, but a lot of the bigger hotel chains are controlled from those countries. So, while there might be attraction projects in the UK, the commitment at the top is never really there.
The second reason is the way we treat hospitality professionals in the UK. Whether it’s restaurants, hotels, airlines, coffee shops – as a nation, we aren’t that gracious towards the people that do such a great job looking after us. Would you want a career in an environment like that?
The pay comes next. In our world we don’t seem to value wage growth in line with career prospects. We expect a brilliant salary from day one, and hospitality just won’t ever work like that. They do need to shout more about the other benefits here – of which there are always plenty! You work hard and do well, you can hold a senior position and earn a six-figure salary. Yes – I’ve seen many people achieve it.
It’s hard work. The targets are always stretch, REVPAR always needs to grow, food costs are always a challenge, there are only 24 hours in a day. Once night audit runs every night, everything is set to zero again. It’s like a 24-hour micro-city. Each and every guest, everywhere in the world, has a story to tell. It’s the most human of workplaces where emotional intelligence is learned, fine-tuned and needed… and in the jobs of the future, I believe it’s those with high emotional intelligence that will do exceptionally well.
We work with many hospitality clients today and I still experience a surge of excitement every time I walk into a hotel for the first time. There's nowhere like it.
Go human. Go hospitality. It will serve you as well as you will serve your guests.