What is the Hospitality Industry?

Hospitality is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries, covering as many as 25 sectors, from hotels and resorts to restaurants, event planning, amusement and theme parks, and tourism. It’s also a major job exporter: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 16 million people work in hospitality and leisure, and another 14 million work in food and accommodation services. One out of every eighteen Americans works in a travel or tourism-related industry, either directly or indirectly.

In short, hospitality is big business – and projected to get bigger.

Hospitality Stats, Facts, and Figures

A few interesting facts and stats about the hospitality industry:

  • $6.5 trillion: The worldwide travel and tourism sector creates a $6.5 trillion annual economic impact. The sector is projected to contribute over $11 trillion in global GDP by 2025.
  • $1.5 trillion: The US travel and tourism industry generated over $1.5 trillion in economic output in 2016, totaling 2.7% of US GDP and supporting 7.6 million jobs. Worldwide, travel and tourism support over 100 million jobs.
  • $400-500 billion: The global hotel industry generates between $400-500 billion in annual revenue.
  • 1 billion: In 2012, the number of international tourists exceeded one billion, the largest number in history and a 50% increase over the previous decade.
  • 700,000: There are over 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • 44%: According to the New York Times, Americans now spend nearly half their food budgets eating out, opening growth opportunities for restaurants, delivery services, and food & beverage in general.
  • 50%: Millennials are expected to make up half of all travelers by 2025.

Types of Hospitality Industry Jobs and Salaries

Because of its scope, every hospitality job differs: a restaurant manager’s day-to-day responsibilities are different than a hote group sales coordinator’s. Needless to say, no one’s job is like a Disney World employee. To give a general idea, let’s review a few hospitality sectors alongside potential salaries and job titles.

Hotel Jobs

Working at a hotel means nonstop action. Front-of-house employees – for instance, the concierge or general manager (who balances multiple duties) – prioritize current guests: every room is ready, every request is met. These are the people that ensure guests have the best possible experience; if a problem arises, they’re the first on the scene. On the other end of the spectrum are the administrative roles: sales, operations, maintenance, and more. These workers form the backbone of the hotel business: developing new business and marketing strategies, overseeing property management and acquisition, and generally keeping business steady. Of course, food and beverage service roles are crucial to hotel operations as well, and many hotel workers juggle several responsibilities at once.

  • Possible Job Title: Lodging Manager
  • Median Salary: $51,840

Restaurant Jobs

The restaurant industry is another “front of house” vs. “back of house” setup. The former might include hosts, bartenders, and waiting staff. The latter typically make up the cooking and food service teams: executive chefs, sous chefs, food and beverage managers, and more. While individual duties vary, the endgame is the same: serve each customer in a polite, satisfactory, and timely manner. In addition to technical skills, restaurant workers need a little bit of everything: patience, communication skills, team spirit, a can-do attitude, flexibility, and the ability to adapt. Few jobs are more challenging or rewarding.

  • Possible Job Title: Food Service Manager
  • Median Salary: $50,820

Event Planning Jobs

Meeting, convention, and event planners enjoy one of the best job outlooks in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment to grow 11% over the next decade, adding nearly 13,000 jobs to the 116,000 existing positions. Further, with the advent of new technologies, more and more events are occurring on digital platforms, increasing audience reach and reducing costs. That said, most event planners continue to coordinate events in physical spaces, setting up business conventions, entertainment panels, music festivals, and more.

  • Possible Job Title: Event Planner
  • Median Salary: $47,350

Types of Degrees Used in the Hospitality Industry

Depending on your career track, you may want to pursue a degree in hospitality. Many entry-level positions don’t require a specific degree, but if you’re interested in managerial roles, relevant undergraduate and graduate degrees can help you build a knowledge base, hone skills, and advance your career in the hospitality industry.

  • Associate’s in Hospitality Management: An associate’s degree in hospitality management is a great way to get a quick, practical education in hospitality basics, especially if you’re just starting your career and/or aren’t certain if you need a full bachelor’s degree. If you decide you want to get a bachelor’s later, transferring credits from the associate is easy.
  • Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management: The bachelor’s degree in hospitality management is among the most popular tracks for its range of study: typical courses include Tourism and Hospitality Marketing, Food Service Systems and Control, Service Operations Management, International Hospitality, Management Information Systems, Quality Management, Financial Management, and more.
  • Master’s in Hospitality Management: The master’s in hospitality management is ideal for experience hospitality workers or professionals looking to make a career pivot. In addition to a rigorous core curriculum, you’ll also have the opportunity to gain real-world experience through practicum requirements and customize the degree through available electives and specializations like Hospitality Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality Management, Sustainable Tourism, and others.
  • MBA in Hospitality Management: The MBA in Hospitality Management differs from the master’s in a few important ways – most importantly, the business emphasis. Students complete a rigorous MBA core, including classes in marketing, management, and strategy, followed by a focus on the intersection of business and the hospitality industry. Most programs include an experiential component and allow students to continue their careers concurrent with the degree.
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