Pros and Cons of a Career in Hospitality Management
The hospitality industry provides management opportunities in hotels, resorts, restaurants and organizations that seek to utilize meetings and conventions to promote business.There are many careers in hospitality management, including lodging manager, food service manager and event manager. Here they are, at a glance:
|Lodging manager||Food service manager||Meeting and event manager/planner|
|Career Overview||Lodging managers are responsible for hotel/motel guest services, staff supervision, promotions and human resources management.||Food service managers oversee bar, restaurant or other food services management, along with kitchen and/or front of house service staff.||Event managers are responsible for client event planning for sales meetings, trade shows or other events.|
|Education Requirements||High school diploma; some postsecondary training or bachelor's degree preferred||High school diploma or less; some postsecondary training preferred||Bachelor's degree preferred|
|Program Length||0-4 years||0-4 years||0-4 years|
|Other Training||None||Restaurants or companies may require rigorous classroom and on-the-job training for managers||None|
|Certification and Licensing||None required, voluntary certification through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)||None required, voluntary certification available through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation||None required, voluntary certification available through the Convention Industry Council and Society of Government Meeting Professionals|
|Experience||1-5 years||1-5 years||0-3 years|
|Job Outlook for 2012-2022||1% growth, 700 additional jobs*||2% growth, 5,000 additional jobs*||33% growth, 31,300 additional jobs*|
|Mean Salary (2014)||$57,230||$53,500||$50,910|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Lodging managers may participate in all aspects of hotel or motel operations, including guest services, hiring, revenue management and shift supervision. Larger, full-service hotels may have specialized managers such as front-office managers, revenue managers and general managers. According to BLS 2012 data, over one-half of all lodging managers are employed in traveler accommodation, while the rest work for a recreational camp, resort or bed and breakfast. Around 40% of lodging managers are self-employed.
Lodging management positions require a high-level of customer service, problem-solving and organizational skills. While a high school diploma and training may be enough to get you in the field, most full-service hotels require a bachelor's degree. Within lodging management or hospitality programs, you gain technical management skills, as well as expertise in operations management, revenue management and customer service relations. Many employers require supervisory experience, as well as experience in specific areas, like front desk operations.
Here are some sample job postings from November 2012:
- A large limited-service motel chain in Houston, TX, seeks a residential general manager with over 3 years experience. A high school diploma is required, and the candidate must be able to reside on the property or travel heavily.
- A hotel management company in California seeks a hotel front office manager to work a varied schedule of shifts. Duties include team leadership, guest relations, human resources and staff scheduling. The candidate must have 2 years of front desk experience with 1 year of supervisory experience.
- A Utah hotel chain seeks a hotel manager for the second shift position to assist in financial operations, staff performance monitoring and occupancy forecasting. A high school diploma is required; some college experience is preferred plus 2 years multiple department management experience.
Lodging managers can demonstrate their commitment to the field and stand out to employers by completing voluntary certification, such as those offered through the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI). The AHLEI offers several certification titles for lodging managers, including Certified Rooms Division Executive and Certified Hotel Administrator. To qualify for the certifications, you must meet specific education and experience requirements, as well as pass an exam.
Food Service Managers
Food service managers are involved with the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, such as interviewing potential staff and training team members. You may also be involved in product inventory control, sanitation and health code compliance and staff scheduling. Food service managers can find work in restaurants, schools, hospitals, offices and fast-food chains. According to BLS 2012 data, about 40% of food service managers are self-employed.
Most food service management jobs require restaurant or management experience. According to O*NET Online, 28% of surveyed food service managers in 2012 had a high school diploma. Most food service managers gain management experience through starting in lower positions, such as cook or waiter; however, the BLS noted that a growing number are completing postsecondary programs in food service management. Within a program, you'll gain knowledge of nutrition, food planning and sanitation, along with real-world experience through internships. Additionally, most restaurants will require you to complete on-the-job training in how to run a restaurant, as well as company specific policies and a restaurant's computer system.
Here are some real job listings from November 2012:
- A restaurant in Massachusetts seeks a food and beverage manager to operate the entire restaurant. The applicant must have extensive experience in food preparation, inventory control and management.
- A large full-service restaurant chain in Colorado seeks a restaurant manager to support brand guidelines in order to meet sales and profitability objectives. The candidate must hold 2 years of experience, and a high school diploma is preferred.
- The New York division of a large hotel chain seeks a director of restaurants to manage day-to-day operations, maintain budgets, manage human resources activities and ensure customer service. For this position, you must have a high school diploma and 6 years of experience or a 2-year degree in food service management and 4 years of experience.
Experience and flexibility are essential traits for many positions in food service management. Many positions require specialized training in either front of the house operations or kitchen operations. Front of house operations require a high-level of customer service skills, as well as training in sanitation and alcohol serving. Additionally, you may choose to earn voluntary certification in food service management as a way to demonstrate your management and supervision expertise. One certification is the Foodservice Management Professional (FMP) certification offered through the National Restaurant Association. In order to be eligible for the FMP exam, you must meet minimum work experience and specialized training requirements.
Meeting and Event Planner
Meeting planners fulfill event coordination needs for a variety of clients or while employed by a large hotel or convention facility. About 9% of meeting, convention and event planners are self-employed. These professionals schedule event times, locations and manage costs. They solicit bids from sites and vendors, and they coordinate all services for an event. Planners may also monitor event-date activities to ensure client satisfaction.
Meeting and event planners typically have a bachelor's degree in areas such as marketing, communications, hospitality management or public relations. Many job postings also require anywhere from 1-5 years of experience. This experience can be gained through related occupations, such as catering coordinator, or through coordinating smaller, intimate events under the supervision of a more established professional. Additional requirements may include interpersonal and communication skills, as well as excellent organizational skills. Strong computer skills are also typically a must for this position.
These job postings provide an inside into what employers were looking for in event planners in November 2012:
- A New Jersey pharmaceutical company seeks a strategic meetings and event management director for sales meetings. Job duties include event budget management, knowledge of clinical regulatory practices, convention management and team leadership. The position requires 20% travel, a bachelor's degree and 5 years of management experience or 12 years of strategic planning experience. An advanced degree preferred.
- A national retail chain based in Atlanta, Georgia, seeks an event and communication manager for volunteer and fundraising events. A bachelor's degree is required plus 5 years of experience in volunteer organization and fundraising.
- A Washington, D.C., event services company seeks an entry-level meeting planner to facilitate communication, assist in planning for trade shows and financial reconciliation for events. A Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science is required, as well as 6-12 months of professional experience.
You may also choose to earn voluntary certification in your craft to demonstrate to potential employers your expertise in the field. Voluntary certification is available through the Conventions Industry Council (CIC) and the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP). While the CIC requires members to meet specific experience and education requirements to qualify for the Certified Meeting Professional credential, the SGMP requires event planners to be a member and complete a 3-day course before taking the Certified Government Meeting Professional exam.