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How to Excel in the Hospitality Industry

Strategies for Success & Resilience

Surviving in any endeavor in life requires a certain set of skills. For example, before taking up mountain climbing or completing a marathon, there are specific things one should know. The same is true for excelling and being successful in a career in hospitality.

Having some basic knowledge and a certain skillset can help grease the wheels of success. And like mountain climbing, knowing certain things before the journey can help you avoid pitfalls, setbacks, and other painful obstacles.

Surviving & excelling in the hospitality business - strategy for success

Opening the Roadmap

The hospitality industry encompasses a vast array of sectors, divisions and businesses. These include hotels, casinos, restaurants, golf resorts, ski resorts, travel businesses and many more. Becoming employed in any of these requires a basic knowledge of life and getting along with others. It requires attention to detail, a caring attitude, and working with integrity.

Unfortunately, the stereotype employee is still in high school and using their job as a stepping stone to something else. This myth is usually applied to those working in the restaurant sector. But that is not a true picture. According to Zippia, the average age of an employed hospitality representative is 46 years old. These are usually people supporting a family, own a home and see themselves as a professional.

They found the roadmap to success in the hospitality industry. These are folks who are either on a path to a management or executive level and/or making a decent income. But they could not have succeeded without following a few simple principles to survive and thrive in this industry.

Principles for Success

The following are 10 principles or keys that can be used for anyone considering a career in the hospitality industry. They can also be adopted by those already working in the industry. They don’t have to be applied in any order, but they should all be addressed. You may already be an expert at a few them—great, move on to those you need to work on. But everyone one of them will help you to excel in your hospitality industry career.

Principle One: Bust the Myths

There are so many myths associated with this wonderfully broad industry. Once you debunk these from your mind, you’ll find that your career glides smoother toward success. These include:

  • Myth: The hospitality industry just doesn’t pay-That’s simply not true. According to com, the median salary can range from $35,000 to $58,000. Depending on the area of the US, some managers make upward of $131,000 to $160,000. Thanks to Covid and the Great Resignation, many hospitality businesses are paying more than before. Some are including a sign-on bonus.
  • Myth: There is no room for growth-The fact is that many hospitality businesses provide a career path for those interested. Managers are dying to have workers with the gumption to stretch themselves and grow. Many of these businesses offer educational reimbursement and in-house online and traditional classes.
  • Myth:I am not a people person”-Again, false! You may be an introvert or shy, but we all know how to communicate with others. We all can improve our communication skills, but don’t let where you stand now prevent you from success.
  • Myth: Hospitality businesses require long and weird hours-Not so today. Many hospitality businesses offer flexible work schedules to accommodate for family, school, and other issues.

There are other myths too, but these are the most common that must be forgotten if you are to thrive in this industry.

Pay raises graphic - hospitality industry strategy for success

Principle Two: Take Ownership

The second principle is to learn to take ownership of everything. That means that if something breaks at work, own it. If a customer is irate for whatever reason, own it. If you’re stuck in traffic, the kids are fighting, your workload increases—-own it. Own it all! A remarkable thing happens when you take full ownership of issues, problems, and setbacks, even when they’re not your fault. Your brain finds another gear and comes up with solutions. (And you are seen as a problem-solver and someone who will is on their way up).

Principle Three: Learn to Focus

Not just mere concentration, but extreme laser-like focus. Some hospitality businesses can be fast-paced at times. When you focus on the task at hand, you’ll be able to weather any kind of stress. You’ll be able to push yourself to explore more creative and efficient ways to get the job done.

Principle Four: Become a Great Communicator

Not just a good communicator, but a great one. If you can master the art of communication, in any form, you will succeed in the hospitality industry. Be aware that learning how to be a great communicator will probably be a life-long endeavor. But it is worth the time. Look around. The best in any field are those who are great at communicating.

Principle Five: Learn to Show Empathy

People can discern false empathy. They know if someone is just tolerating them. Instead, truly show empathy for everyone you work with—other employees, managers, customers, and vendors.

You’ve probably heard that empathy is walking in someone else’s shoes. That’s a good habit. But to really show empathy, consider this: if someone is crying, you should taste salt. Pretty deep, uh? The point is that you really have to focus (see Principle Three), in order to empathize with another person. It’s amazing how true empathy can defuse an otherwise terrible conflict.

Principle Six: Be Open to Feedback

When others offer criticism, whether it is meant to be constructive or not, pause and think about it. What is the meaning behind the criticism? Is there anything you can do to turn it into helpful feedback? Make it a goal to learn from your mistakes. When you make a mistake, consider it as “failing forward.” You are getting better every day.

Principle Seven: Take Initiative

Every business operator loves to hire self-starters and the same is true especially for hospitality businesses. This principle helps you to take an active approach in your job and anticipate problems instead of reacting to them. This puts you in a much better position to prevent those same problems from occurring again in the future.

When you see something that needs attention, don’t wait for others to take charge. Tackle problem situations without being instructed to do so. You will help the business provide a more excellent service and you’ll definitely help your career. Success comes to those who are first to take action.

Principle Eight: Stay Calm

It’s okay to get excited about a project or the solving of a problem, but don’t get overly excited. Be patient and adopt an almost zen-like quality with your approach to difficult circumstances. You’ll make better decisions when you are calm. In addition, your calmness magically makes those around act in a more calm and peaceful manner.

Principle Nine: Embrace Technology

Sure, you might be savvy with your phone and find things quickly on the computer, but do more than that. Stay ahead of the curve. Every sector of the hospitality industry is impacted and using technology for improving business functions and enhancing the customer experience. Take time to learn how technology helps the business you work for and how you can learn to master it. Read about new technologies on the horizon and let your superiors know about them. They’ll be impressed with your knowledge as well as your initiative.

Success strategies for the hospitality industry - diagram

Principle Ten: Paint Your Canvas

This concept is similar to taking ownership, but with some creative liberties. Think of your job as a canvas that an artist uses to paint a portrait or picture. It is your canvas. You get to do whatever you want with it. Of course, you have some restrictions set in place by your employer and your job description.

But aside from that, it is your canvas. You control what it will look like. Treat your work as your canvas where you will create your masterpiece. Everyday you go to work, you are being artful in how you approach your job. How you treat others, and how you address problems that may arise.

Adopting, Applying, and Embracing Principles

Before embarking on the mountain climbing trip, you should be prepared, if for nothing else but to enjoy the climb. The same is true for your hospitality career. The journey is much more enjoyable if you have some sound principles to follow. Applying these principles will help you advance your career and enjoy the ride. By doing so you will not only survive working in the hospitality business, but thrive and succeed.

Interview tips specific to the hospitality industry


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