Hotel Jobs and Careers
Working in the hospitality industry usually involves working with people who are staying away from home on a trip or vacation.
To work in the hospitality industry, you will certainly be more successful if you are a people person who is interested in making guests feel welcome and 'at home'.
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Other employers besides hotels can include resorts and cruise ships, with areas of work involving everything from catering to organising conferences at hotels. Here, we are going to focus on the customer side of hotel work, although there are many other areas of work including management and administration in the back offices.
Type of Person
People who do well in this area of work have sociable personalities and interact well with a wide range of people. If you have a positive attitude and plenty of energy, you can go a long way in this area of the service industries. Every role in hospitality is focused on customer service and ensuring a good experience for the visitor.
The tasks may be similar with each day, but the clientele is always changing and new things are happening at the venue. This also means you should be able to adapt to changing circumstances, as well as occasional high pressure due to high volumes of work. If you thrive on hard work and being busy, then you'll enjoy this industry.
Hotel Jobs and Careers Prospects
In major, busy hotels, it's possible to get permanent employment, not just in management roles but in kitchen, bar and waiting roles too. Otherwise, many jobs are seasonal, or have a seasonal variation in hours. It depends on the location and market of the hotel or resort. Cruise ships tend to offer renewable contract work, ranging from three to ten months in length, although most are six months.
Salaries in the hospitality industry are variable, depending not only on the role and hours, but also the kind of venue and the area it is situated in. In larger hotel chains, you're more likely to come across benefit packages that include profit-related pay, pension schemes and health insurance. In many establishments, you'll be offered subsidised accommodation or meals.
The staff turnover tends to be fairly high. This is partly due to the seasonal availability of jobs. With the exception of management jobs and more specialist roles, it is fairly easy to find work if you have basic qualifications and are flexible with the hours you work.
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In a hotel, the general manager oversees all operations, but especially guest relations, housekeeping, front desk and maintenance. Other responsibilities towards staffing include training and development. The assistant general manager supports and deputises for them in every area.
Managers need to be strong leaders with good logistical skills and excellent written and verbal communication skills. Management skills such as delegation, financial management and furthering organisational objectives are crucial.
Many bigger hotels have large conference facilities which provide a major part of their income. Delegates spend the day and evening at conference events and meetings, while staying in the hotel rooms. Even smaller hotels have function rooms which are hired out to local businesses and private bookers organising weddings and parties.
Conference and catering managers do most of the event planning in hotel and resort venues. They are the link between the bookers and the venue, tasked with the job of making the events run smoothly for both. This means overseeing the catering provision as well as organising the actual facilities.
Consequently it's a highly professional, fast paced role. You need to have good hands-on organisational and management skills, with the ability to multi-task. Strong interpersonal and customer service skills are essential. On top of this, the ability to sell and negotiate over services and prices is important. Usually, a qualification at least to a 2-year HND (Higher National Diploma) is required, consolidated by at least 5 years' solid experience.
Front Desk Staff
Front Desk Manager
This manager is responsible for the central point of contact with guests in the foyer. This includes reception duties, concierge duties, cloakroom, etc. As with all managers, strong leadership abilities and communication skills are vital. They usually work shifts themselves.
Previous supervisory experience in a hotel is usually required for these positions, along with good computer and problem solving abilities. A dedication to customer service is essential.
Situated in the foyer, the concierge is available to help guests with enquiries relating to the hotel, the locality and transport. This customer service role complements the work of the front desk, departments, including reception, sales and reservations, and porters.
Customer service experience in a hotel or tourism setting is usually required. A good education to at least 16 years of age, possibly with a NVQ/SVQ in tourism or hospitality and some solid hotel experience, will help you to gain a foothold in this area of work. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential, along with strong local knowledge.
Receptionists greet and register arriving guests and provide service during their stay, before settling the account at the end of the visit. They liaise with external as well as internal customers.
To do this job, you need to be highly positive and outgoing, with a commitment to customer service. Problem-solving abilities and the ability to stay calm under pressure are essential. A good education to age 16 is an asset, as is an NVQ/SVQ in tourism or hospitality. Transferable skills include cash handling and IT, along with local knowledge.
The night staff operate the reception desk during the overnight shift. They register guests, make reservations, check guests out and maintain security of the foyer.
Night staff need to be able to work independently and unsupervised, being able to problem solve in order to resolve issues that arise out of hours. Some of these may be emergencies, so the ability to function calmly under pressure is vital.
The restaurant manager's duties include estimating how much food and drink will be needed, placing orders with suppliers and checking deliveries for quality and quantity. They also maintain the food and glassware, manage daily takings and room accounts, and supervise all waiting staff to ensure smooth running of the restaurant.
Restaurant managers need to be good all-rounders with strong customer service skills, good staff management abilities, excellent communication skills with the ability to work effectively under pressure. Courtesy, reliability and good timekeeping are essential for managers and waiting staff. A NVQ/GNVQ or BTEC HND in a hospitality subject is valuable, especially for jobs with the larger hotel chains.
Waiting staff prepare tables, greet and seat customers, hand out menus and take orders, and serve food. They also take the payments at the end of the meal. They aim to do this while making the customers feeling welcome and relaxed. They are supervised by the head waiter or waitress.
Most hotels induct new waiting staff into their particular style of service. Additional training is often provided for approaches such as 'silver service'. Otherwise, training includes NVQ/SVQs and BTEC HNDs.
The wine waiter is responsible for the wine cellar and its stock. Working with the customers at the tables, the wine waiter also advises which wines will go best with the food selected from the menu. As well as good customer relations, they are responsible for actually skilfully serving the wine and even advising on cigars to accompany the after dinner drinks.
Training is via the organisations such as the UK Sommelier Association. These courses cover every aspect of wine growing, production and consumption in the hospitality industry.
The Head chef and their staff run the kitchen on a daily basis. Depending on the exact role, they're responsible for everything from overseeing the stock, ordering and purchasing, producing the menus, ensuring high standards of cuisine, cooking, cleaning cooking and dining ware, and handling every aspect of the kitchen's operations.
Breakfast chefs prepare and cook breakfast for the guests, including taking care of the buffet and ordering stock. In larger establishments, kitchen supervisors organise the work of the kitchen assistants, Ability to work under pressure is essential. Chefs usually have training such as NVQ/SVQs, BTEC HND or a foundation degree in cookery. They have to have leadership skills and be creative with food. Health and Safety and Food Hygiene certificates are often also needed.
Supervisors need to have considerable attention to detail and understanding of regulations. They also have a Hospitality and Catering diploma, NVQ/SVQs, a City & Guilds Diploma, or BTEC HND in professional cookery. In all roles, solid kitchen experience counts for a lot.
Assistants fulfil all the supporting duties in the kitchen. They don't actually prepare dishes, but do prepare the ingredients. They also clean kitchenware and utensils during services. Other kitchen staff often have a 14-19 year old Hospitality & Catering diploma, NVQ/SVQs, City & Guilds Diploma, BTEC HND in professional cookery, or higher qualifications.
Bar managers oversee the entire running of the bar, as well as liaising with restaurant serving staff and room service to deliver beverages with meals. They are responsible for upholding regulations, managing stock and handling deliveries, and maintaining the cellar and condition of drinks. Contact with the customers includes dealing with difficult and drunk individuals.
Bar hours are long and the role can be demanding. Managers need to be people-oriented and adaptable. Experience is often considered more important than training, although knowledge of health and safety regulations is important. The formal qualification is the National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders.
Bar staff prepare and serve drinks to customers, either over the bar or via the waiting staff in restaurants. Collecting used glasses and cleaning them, and clearing up the customer area are also part of the job. Hours can be long and late into the night. Bar staff usually learn on the job, with experience considered more important than training. Staff need to be punctual and able to handle cash.
The head housekeeper has responsibility for cleanliness throughout the hotel. They schedule staff, communicate with other departments and train staff.
You need to have good organisational abilities, leadership skills, excellent attention to detail and good interpersonal skills in order to deal with other personnel.
Room staff, or housekeepers, ensure that guest rooms and public areas are clean. The main duty is servicing guest rooms on a daily basis, replacing bathroom and minibar supplies in guest rooms, changing linen, etc.
You need to be a hard worker with a strong attention to detail to do this job. Physical fitness is important.
Many larger hotels offer sports and fitness facilities, with a pool, gym and spa area. Suitably qualified professionals with sports qualifications and customer experience may find employment in these areas.
Entertainment is part of the customer experience and musicians, singers and dancers are often employed in hotels. Some are locally based and may be hired on a semi-permanent basis, such as a resident pianist. Others are sourced from agencies.
The spa area of the hospitality business has grown rapidly in recent years. Most larger hotels offer spa facilities, including massage and beauty services, while an increasing number of resorts focus solely on health rather than leisure. Jobs include attendants, massage therapists, beauty staff, receptionists and managers.
Back Office Staff
Numerous professional areas offer employment away from the customer interface. A hotel is just like any other organisation that needs its own internal operations and services in order to provide effectively for its customer base. Professional areas include:
- Sales and Marketing.
- Finance and accounting.
- Human Resources.
Hotel Jobs Sites
- Hospitality jobs, including catering: www.hcareers.co.uk
- For chef jobs, see here: www.chefjobs.co.uk
- Jobs in all areas of the catering business: www.caterer.com
- Hotel jobs and careers information: www.jobsinhotels.co.uk