Working in the hotel industry can be fun and exciting, depending on the hotel and your position there. There are a lot of jobs to choose from, although with some jobs you'll need to have a degree, training, or several years of experience. While many people think about working in large luxury hotels or resorts, there are also motels, bed and breakfasts, and a lot of other employers. At each hotel, though, similar positions need to be filled. There are usually management employees, maintenance employees, kitchen and wait staff (if the hotel has a restaurant), housekeeping staff members, front desk employees, and the staff who purchase supplies, perform accounting work, and provide similar support.
In general, there are two main types of hotel jobs: guest services and administrative and support. Here is more information about each of these types and some of the specific jobs associated with both categories. Keep in mind that this is certainly not an exhaustive list of jobs - just the most common jobs in the hotel industry.
Did you know? In 2013, there were 64,482 establishments doing business in the hotel industry. Most of these establishments are hotels and motels.
Guest Services/Entry level
Front Desk Clerks: As the name implies, these employees man the reception area, which is the first place guests go when they arrive at a hotel. As a front desk clerk you'll need to verify a guest's reservation. If the guest doesn't have a reservation, you'll need to check room availability.
The check in process for guests usually includes getting credit card information, giving the guest the pass card to enter the room, and answering any questions the guest has. Front desk employees also often take phone calls and make reservations. At some hotels this is an entry level job. At other hotels, you must have a degree or years of experience before you are eligible for this position.
Porters: These employees also used to be called bellhops, and in some hotels they still are. They usually dress in uniform, so that guests recognize that they are employees of the hotel. As soon as a guest checks in at the front desk, the porter helps the guest take his or her luggage to the room and makes sure the room is acceptable to the guest. Often the porter is asked questions about other services at the hotel, so he or she should be knowledgeable of all the hotel has to offer. Porters are usually hired at full service hotels, not motels.
Concierges: At full service and high end or luxury hotels, concierges are available to act as liaisons with guests. If a guest needs a specific service, such as a babysitter, the guest can contact the concierge, who will coordinate the execution of this service. Other services the concierges assist with include making arrangements for dry cleaning and laundry, purchasing show tickets, and making reservations at local restaurants. At some hotels this is an entry level job. At other hotels, you must have a degree or years of experience before you are eligible for this position.
Housekeeping: Nothing reflects worse on a hotel than dirty rooms or an unclean lobby area. Hotels rely on repeat business, and guests usually won't return to a hotel they think is dirty. Having a quality housekeeping staff on the premises ensures that the hotel is clean, rooms are clean, and guests will return. As a member of housekeeping you may have to clean guest rooms, wash bedding and towels, replace toiletries that have been used, and clean other areas of the hotel.
Room Service: If the hotel is equipped with a kitchen, it often offers room service. Guests who want to eat but don't want to leave the hotel or go to the hotel restaurant (if there is one) can order from a menu in their room. As a room service employee you may be taking room service orders, and then delivering them.
Waiter/Waitress: If the hotel has a restaurant, it also needs waiters and waitresses. In a hotel, the most requested meal is usually breakfast, so be prepared to work early hours. The next most frequently served meal is dinner. You will need to take guests' orders, and serve the meals, making sure they have everything they need. Some hotels allow guests to bill to their rooms, while others take payment. You will need to make sure the bill for the meal gets to the right place so it can be paid.
Kitchen Staff: As the name implies, as a kitchen staff member you may be cooking, washing dishes, preparing salads, ordering supplies, planning menus, or similar duties, depending on your job. As an entry level kitchen staff member, you are most likely preparing foods for senior cooks or chefs to cook for the guests.
Guest Services/More advanced positions
Supervisor of Guest Services: As the supervisor of guest services, you may be responsible for hiring staff members that provide housekeeping services, front desk personnel, reservations coordinators, or concierges. All of these duties depend on what kind of hotel you are working for and the structure it has in place. Some large hotels have separate guest services departments that primarily answer the phone and make sure guests have what they need. At this kind of hotel you would be supervising that department, making sure it was staffed and running smoothly.
Front Desk Supervisor: The front desk supervisor manages the front desk workers. You may need to hire, fire, or discipline these workers. You will need to ensure that customers are greeted warmly and checked in efficiently. You may have to provide training, and you may also need to schedule workers so that the front desk is always manned with the right number of workers at each shift.
Housekeeping Supervisor: If you've worked for several years as a housekeeper, you may be able to be promoted to supervisor. In this position you may be in charge of hiring housekeepers and training them. You may also need to schedule workers so that there is always the right number of workers at each shift.
Kitchen Manager: There are usually many kitchen workers, and the manager needs to be in charge to make sure that kitchen operations are going smoothly. You may be responsible for hiring new kitchen employees, as well as making sure they get the training they need. Scheduling may also fall under your area of responsibility, which means you need to make sure there are enough people scheduled to cover each shift.
Restaurant Manager: While the kitchen manager takes care of kitchen operations, the restaurant manager focuses on the guest services in the restaurant. He or she makes sure that guests are greeted promptly, seated as quickly as possible, and receive the best possible service and food. The manager may be responsible for hiring servers, hosts, and training them. He or she will also handle guest complaints.
Executive Chef: The executive chef plans the menus for all meals, according to hotel policies and guidelines. He or she is in charge of supervising all other line cooks, sous chefs, and similar kitchen employees. He or she may also be in charge of ordering all of the food and maintaining a budget.
Marketing and Advertising: The marketing and advertising coordinator is in charge of promoting the hotel to the community through various advertising channels, depending on the marketing and advertising budget. Some hotels do a lot of advertising, while others do very little. Most hotels that hire a full time advertising person or staff do a lot of advertising and marketing.
Accounting: Accounting staff members are in charge of making sure that the hotel is properly recording all of its income and expenses, paying its bills, taxes, and employees.
Purchasing: Purchasing employees look at the usage of items used for running the hotel and make sure there are plenty of those items in stock to meet guests' needs. They key to successful purchasing is to have enough stock that you won't run out, but not so much that it is costly to the organization.
Event Planner: Many hotels have conference rooms, ballrooms, dining halls, or other spaces that they rent out to businesses and individuals for events such as weddings, seminars, and similar occasions. The planner works with a representative from the company or the individual to make sure that everything is in place for the event. Some hotels charge extra for the use of the event planner.
Assistant Hotel Manager: The assistant manager performs administrative work for the manager, overseeing a lot of the operations and also compiling and preparing a lot of the reports and budgets the hotel uses. This gives the assistant manager a solid foundation so that he or she can become a manager.
Hotel Manager: The hotel manager is usually where the "buck stops." He or she is ultimately in charge of all aspects of the running of the hotel. If the hotel is getting fewer guest visits, the manager will need to explain what caused this drop and have a plan in place to recover the income. He or she will also have other supervisors or managers reporting to him or her and should be very familiar with the hotel's operations.
Types of jobs in the Hotel industry, Summary
- You can launch a career in the hotel industry with very little education or experience, although some starting positions may require a degree.
- Most jobs in the hotel industry are service jobs: you will be meeting the needs of guests and should enjoy working with all kinds of people.
- You can choose between a career I hotel guest services and hotel administrative positions.