15 Tips for Success in Hospitality Management

Hospitality is a multibillion-dollar international industry offering exciting career opportunities in hotels, restaurants, and bars as well as theme parks, country clubs, cruise ships, and more. Hospitality management is a challenging, all-encompassing profession that requires charisma, skill, drive, and a cool head under pressure. Here are 15 tips to jumpstart your career in hospitality management by stocking your tool belt and learning to juggle the demands of owners, employees, and customers alike.

Getting started

Tip #1: Get the relevant education, and continue learning.

Hospitality managers are jacks of all trades — driven, hard-working, and eager to learn and grow — so both hands-on experience and old-fashioned classroom learning combine to produce the most successful managers. Whether or not you already work in hospitality, the first thing you should do is to invest in your education and learn the modern standards and practices of the management industry. After you’ve earned the degree, continue learning, whether that means reading books on business marketing, working alongside your housekeeping staff for a day, or experimenting with new cocktail recipes with your bartender. Understand everyone’s job and how they contribute to the establishment’s success.

Tip #2: Find a mentor.

Reap the knowledge of the industry’s veterans. Mine your professional network, set up a coffee date with an influential manager, and ask about both successes and failures. If you work in hospitality, communicate with your current managers and inform them of your desire to grow professionally. Your initiative and your sincere desire to learn may be enough to spark the interest of someone who can promote you.

Tip #3: Be a leader and an innovator.

To become a leader in your industry, start acting like a leader in your industry. Get organized; keep a detailed calendar and to-do lists. Work efficiently at every task. Aim to impress. Read hospitality magazines. If you’re a bartender, concoct a new drink recipe and call it the month’s special. Get noticed.

Once you’ve got the job

Tip #4: Communicate with owners and employees.

Silly mistakes can often be ascribed to miscommunication; minimize imprudence by keeping everyone — from the owner to the newest staff member — on the same page. You are the role model, the obliging ear, the problem solver, the director of time and money. Follow directions, give instructions, address concerns, and explain procedures with confidence.

Tip #5: Hire good people.

You cannot do your job if you are constantly cleaning up the messes of others, so hire skilled, honest, dedicated employees. Fire employees who steal products or time. Give trusted employees authority to fix problems, such as the ability to comp a meal or a hotel room.

Tip #6: Cultivate a positive work environment.

You are competing for star employees, so when you find them, treat them well. This team dynamic is built on a shared respect of the skills and aptitudes of each employee, which in turn encourages the staff to take pride in their work. But sometimes the simplest gestures are the inroad to good staff relations: Smile, compliment, and remember birthdays. Host staff parties, pen a newsletter, and have some fun in the workplace. Employees will reflect this positive attitude back to customers

Tip #7: Consistently reward good behavior.

Praise individual employees immediately, sincerely, and publicly. Recognize perfect attendance, procure a plaque for the Employee of the Month, and acknowledge the completion of undesirable tasks, especially when performed without complaint.

Tip #8: Develop effective training materials.

Avoid answering the same questions over and over again with clearly articulated training materials. Mentoring is an effective training method, but having a clear and concise employee handbook sets the foundation for expectations and established procedures.

Tip #9: Provide the right equipment.

Provide both employees and customers with quality, modern equipment. Find money in the budget to keep your customer business center up to speed, regularly replace aging vacuums, and provide business cards and branded clothing for the entire staff.

Tip #10: Stay calm under pressure.

When Murphy uttered his law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” he was probably talking about a Saturday night at the city’s hottest roller rink. In a barrage of demands from owners, employees, and customers, all at once during the busiest day, week, and month of your life, it is crucial that the hospitality manager overcomes the stresses and delivers whatever is being demanded. Perfect the skills of multi-tasking and prioritizing the needs of others. And manage your own stress by setting boundaries to avoid letting your work life encroach on your personal life.

Tip #11: Be prepared for emergencies.

In the event of an emergency, you are the unequivocal leader. Make detailed evacuation and communications plans, and train the staff in how to respond to every conceivable emergency. Hold regular drills, maintain working equipment such as battery-operated radios, and continually update your emergency preparedness plan.

Tip #12: Know the competition.

Keep your establishment on the cutting edge by visiting restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that appeal to your same client base. Network with managers and professionals in complementary industries, such as catering and event planning. Develop these relationships and look for opportunities to make mutually beneficial business deals. For example, a hotel might offer a 10% discount to a local pizzeria, which will reciprocate by posting free advertisements for the hotel.

Tip #13: Work to improve the business.

Your job is not simply to manage the day-to-day operations; it is also to help realize company growth, whether that means expansion of services or greater efficiency. Regularly examine procedures and systems. Get input from employees. Aim to get things right the first time and perpetuate good practices. Be proactive in reputation management, offering incentives to customers who write reviews for websites like Yelp.

Tip #14: Be present for your guests.

Take joy in spending time with your customers. If you’re not running around fixing 50 problems at once, take time to greet them upon their arrival, check in during their experience, and wish them well upon their departure.

Tip #15: The customer is always right.

The cliché applies to every aspect of hospitality management because this is a profession built on customer service. Turn complaints into an opportunity to grow, learn, and change. A suggestion box is always a good idea, for both customers and employees.