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Do I have the right skills for the hospitality industry?

Those targeting a career in hospitality need to be good communicators, flexible, culturally aware and ready to be part of team.

If you are thinking about career in hospitality, perhaps it’s time to assess whether you have the right skills to enter this very demanding field.

First of all, as opposed to many other career paths, which require a narrower focus, to be a success in hospitality, you must be an all-rounder. This is why hotel school curriculums include such a broad variety of topics and skills that must be mastered - going from how to manage a cold chain for food items to calculating the present value on a future investment.   

You should also be prepared to adapt to a constantly changing environment, putting the needs of the customer at the forefront of every decision. Indeed, interpersonal relations are a cornerstone of the hotelier’s skillset. If you don’t enjoy meeting people and attending to their (legitimate) needs and wants, hospitality is probably not the right field for you. Interacting with people is important not only for customer relations, but also for managing staff as you move up the ranks.

Good communication skills are essential

Communication skills - both oral and written - are of paramount importance in a hospitality context. In order to successfully attend to customers’ needs and wants, you must not only address them directly in a clear and understandable way, but also be able to motivate the staff who, in many cases, will actually serve customers.  One of the critical facets of clear communication is listening – being able to understand what customers want and what employees under your supervision need.

Other key aspects of communication include: 

  • Appropriate body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone of voice;
  • Clarity and concision – no need to be verbose;
  • Friendliness - a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile will encourage your co-workers to be open and honest;
  • Confidence - it is important to exude confidence in one’s interactions with others. Confidence demonstrates to colleagues that you believe in what you’re saying and will follow through;
  • Empathy - even when you disagree with an employer, colleague or employee, it is important to understand and respect their point of view,
  • Open-mindedness - a good communicator should enter into any conversation with a flexible, open mindset.
  • Respect - people will be more open to communicating if they are shown respect; and
  • Feedback – this is especially important for managers in order to elicit a high level of commitment from staff.  It is important to be able to both give and receive feedback in an appropriate manner.

Cultural awareness is an important asset

If you plan to progress in the field of hospitality, you are going to encounter a wide variety of people with very diverse backgrounds. In order to succeed as a hotelier, it is important to be sensitive and to gain an understanding of different cultures, religions, races and nationalities. Understanding cultural differences can be a key factor in delivering excellent customer service, as people’s tastes and sensibilities are, to a large extent, impacted by their ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. 

Multitasking is unavoidable  

By its nature, the hospitality sector demands a high degree of flexibility and the ability to juggle with several tasks simultaneously. In the course of one day, you may be required to plan a banquet, calm irate customers and deal with plumbing problems – all the while maintaining a professional demeanour. Being a versatile worker will make you invaluable to employers, as they will see that you can easily adapt to a variety of roles and situations in the company. The higher up you move in the hierarchy, the more multitasking will become important, as you will have to deal with staffing issues as well as customer needs and wants.    

Teamwork is required

Whether you are starting out in a low level service job or managing a large hotel, teamwork will be a major part of your day. In order to succeed in this industry, you must be willing to operate as the member of a team. You should be able to take instructions from others in order to achieve customer satisfaction and your fellow team members should feel supported by you, as you work together to achieve one common goal.

In conclusion, those targeting a career in hospitality need to be good communicators, flexible, culturally aware and ready to be part of team.