Awesome food (ok, they’re usually leftovers but still…), Travel opportunities, Great discounts (if you work in part of a chain), Total personality exposure (meet new people from all over the world), and Parties galore! These are just some of the perks of working in a hotel, especially at the bigger chains. You can also get great pay and opportunity for extra shifts if you want to save more money.
But did anyone ever tell you about the flip side of the coin? While I love working hotels, you should know if you’re thinking about working in one, the not so savoury parts of the job. Rude guests, Long hours, Lack of Sleep, working in other areas (which can also be a great experience, but I know some people who hate that) like doing extra shifts F&B (Restaurant, Bar, Functions..) or in HSK (Housekeeping when the hotel is crazy busy). Or how about sore & calloused feet at the end of each shift; flexible (also known as inflexible) hours where you’re called on for double shifts or to stay longer on days you really want to go home on time.
To survive in the hotel industry here is what I’ve learned:
- When in doubt it’s always okay to ask a co-worker
- Always smile (one of the golden rules of working in customer service)
- Wear comfortable shoes! The first few weeks I wore these gorgeous heeled leather shoes and my feet really paid for it
- Get sleep! While you’ll be tempted to party with your coworkers after shifts, try not to do it every night, it seriously sucks when you have no energy in a job like these. These jobs require people who are pretty much always upbeat, can think quick on their feet and be energetic enough to deliver suitcases to rooms on a whim
- Not only getting sleep, but sleeping early when you know you have a shift the next day is important too. These jobs can really take it out of you, don’t fall asleep on the job (the big guys won’t like it lol) and neither will you. I learned the power of feeling fresh going to work. You can do so much more and the shift’s seem to fly by if you have the right amount of energy to get the job done. Some days it will be really hard to achieve this when you have back-to-back shifts, so try to catch some Zs whenever you can at home.
- Know the value of multi tasking! Whether you’re in front desk, behind the bar or pretty much anywhere in the hotel, develop your multitasking skills and memory will really help your performance
- Always bring a water bottle with you on shift. You can refill it while you’re there, keep hydrated, your body will thank you
- I used to work as a duty manager in front desk. This means while I wasn’t the manager of the entire front office, I was in charge during the shifts assigned to me. If you find yourself in a supervisory position remember to keep your cool and delegate. Being a manager doesn’t mean you’re the only one who can do anything, it takes foresight and good people skills to be a great one.
Tips to go up the career ladder:
- Volunteer yourself for every opportunity. You can learn more about the hotel works by volunteering extra shifts or in different departments (F&B, HSK…)
- Learn as much as you can – there is a ton of resources in the hotel, managers, coworkers, even the guests themselves, they will point out to you where you can improve and how to provide better service. While you’re at why not look into extra trainings like first aid, languages, bartending courses…some hotels will provide trainings like this for you and all you need to do is sign up.
- Network! Get to know your colleagues and even people you wouldn’t usually be in contact with. The financial director, the director of marketing, all these people usually started where you are and got to know the business. Sit down and have a coffee with them, they are usually very humble people and will be happy to assist you when you want to learn more or experience more. I got to know many great people in the hotels I worked with, I volunteered to do a day in their offices when I didn’t have shifts in my normal job so I could observe what a day in the life was like there.
- Get a degree – while having a degree in tourism management or something related isn’t required, it certainly does help. Lots of managerial positions today are looking for people with related degrees. It usually speeds things up, but there are many career pathways to get to that top desired position.
- Show your enthusiasm! People with passion for service, travel, food, leisure etc will succeed in this industry.
- Become part of your department’s board or group. Each department will usually have a project that they are focusing on for the fiscal year. Remember the end result is that hotels are always trying to value add and make money. That’s what it comes down to. Priority is the guests and ensuring that shareholders and owners get a good return on investment. Become an integral part of these projects to show off your other skills and help out where you can.
General Departmental Stuff:
If you get a job in HSK be prepared for speedy work, lots of bending over and heavy lifting, the key is in the details. You’ll learn the process and will need to repeat this in every room for consistency. There’s definitely some sweating in this job and after working here for a few weeks I really admired the housekeepers strength in doing this day in and day out.
If you get a job in F&B, be prepared for a lot of guest interaction (and not always the friendly kind), brush up on skills like holding a tray properly, remembering orders (and getting them right), how to set the table correctly etc. It sounds easy but when you’re crazy busy you definitely will need these skills honed and at their best. Learning the balancing act can be a tricky one but once you get it, you’ll breeze through F&B. I found F&B a real delight. I worked during my uni days at a hotel in their functions section and it’s great fun. You get to learn about all the different kinds of beverages and cocktails, and serve some really great people (and sometimes some really drunk people lol).
If you get a job in Front Desk (you may also be known as GSA – Guest Service Agent) or in Concierge, a good knowledge of the hotel’s facilities and surrounding location is a must! Get to know your area. People will be throwing questions at you all day/night long, be prepared to be every guest’s personal guide. I loved working in front desk. You get to meet all kinds of people and feel very in control of what’s going on at the hotel. You are the heart and everything will be coming through here, bills from F&B, appointments at the spa, requests to the HSK will all go through you. The downside is that when you’re super busy, you’re gonna feel close to having your hair fall out, especially in bigger hotels. Multitasking is especially important in working in this department. Depending on the hotel, you’ll also be required like pretty much every line work in the hotel to stand for long periods at a time.
Last Minute Comments:
So there you have it, there’s some amazing opportunities in this industry but you have to keep a level head. Be realistic. It can seem glamorous but it takes hard work and effort to really get where you want to be. I know some people who did on the job training and decided it wasn’t for them, try to go into it with open eyes and realistic expectations. In the end it is a job too, so remember your life outside of work. Anyone can work in a job, but not just anyone can get to the top. If you treat it as just as a means of making money or a stepping stone to somewhere else, it’s a good job for that too, good pay and service-oriented. But to really get the most out of it, you need passion. Meet anyone in the head positions and they will be very motivated and passionate about what they believe a hotel should be. You’ll come to understand why and how they got there. Working in a hotel isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great place to start if you love the tourism and travel industry. It gives a great base of knowledge, I currently work in marketing and reservations, so working in a hotel really helped me form a basic understanding of what people are looking for and appreciate the hard work that goes into making a great holiday for guests.