Excite Careers
Hotel & Hospitality


Not always hospitable

It isn't easy working in the hospitality industry--guests can be rude, the holiday rush is nightmarish, and employees work seven days a week. Hotel workers must put the needs of their guests first and maintain a sunny and accommodating disposition at all times--not easy when you have been working for 12 hours on Christmas Day without a break. However, the perks in the business are such that hospitality workers put up with the disadvantages of the industry.

It takes a team

Every member of a hotel staff, from housekeeping to the hotel manager, is responsible for the seamless operation of the establishment. At smaller hotels and motels, the responsibility for overseeing rooms, food and beverage service, registration, and overall management can fall on the shoulders of a single manager.

Large hotels, such as The Plaza in New York, employ hundreds of workers. To start, the general manager may be aided by a staff of assistant managers, each with his or her own department to supervise. The hotel manager sets the establishment's standards of operation (within the owners' or executives' guidelines); it is the job of the assistant managers to see that these are executed adroitly. The general manager sets room rates, allocates funds to departments, approves expenditures, and establishes standards for service that employees in housekeeping, decor, food quality, and banquet operations must offer to guests. Many hotels have resident managers, who live in the hotel and are on hand 24 hours a day for guests and staff (though they usually work a standard eight-hour day).

The housekeeping staff is responsible for maintaining banquet, meeting and guest rooms--right down to the mints on the pillows--and ensuring that public areas are clean, orderly, and well-kept. Almost all hotels also have food and beverage managers on hand to supervise hotel restaurants, bars, banquet rooms, and room service. These employees plan menus and direct food presentation and preparation. Hotels employ a long list of support staff in various areas, including accountants, entertainers, maintnence workers, security officers, gardeners, and everything in between. The behind-the-scenes services consist of sales, administration, and marketing personnel.

You're working late

Although hotel staff, managers in particular, officially work eight-hour days, the jobs almost invariably require overtime. And since hotels require 24 hour service, shifts can vary and sometimes be very hectic. In the hospitality industry, details are of the utmost importance and last-minute preparations and crisis aversion are par for the course. As compensation, however, hotel employees get paid sick leave and vacation, as well as full benefits (especially if they work for large corporations) and discounted or free food. Many hotels also offer free or cheap housing within the hotel itself to some employees, such as the resident manager.

Career Path  

Although in the past, most hotel managers have been hired from food and beverage, front desk, housekeeping, and sales positions without formal education, employers now give hiring preference to individuals with degrees in hotel and restaurant management. Internships and part-time jobs also give a step up when it comes to getting hired for a management-track position. Graduates of hotel or restaurant management programs usually start as trainee assistant managers or at least advance to such positions quickly. New hotels without formal on-the-job training programs often prefer experienced personnel for higher-level positions.

The majority of the jobs in the industry (more than 60 percent) are in service and administrative support. Large hotel and motel chains offer better opportunities for advancement than small, independently owned establishments and offer transfers to other hotels or motels in the chain. Hotel personnel are encouraged (and are in some cases required) to move around to different hotels several times in their careers.


Employee hotel discounts;Free or discounted meals


Long hours (holidays and weekends);Low starting pay;Rude patrons

Personality Match  


Personality Miss  



Averages about 45 per week


Median salary for hotel managers: $23,400;Median salary for Executive Housekeepers: $43,750;Median salary for Front Desk Clerks: $16,700


Training in hotel or restaurant management or an undergraduate degree with hotel experience is preferred

Our Survey Says  

If you don't enjoy people, "please do not even attempt a career in this field," insiders warn. It is an industry of "long hours, shift work, and sometimes ungratifying tasks." For those individuals who are truly cut out for the hotel business, however, it "gets in your blood." The diversity of experience in hotel management "is greater than in any other profession and the gratification can be tremendous." The hotel business "is not a high-paying profession unless you are in upper management," contacts tell us, but employees are compensated by the development of "unlimited knowledge" as well as the occasional free vacation."

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