Hospitality Management and Tourism Management – What’s the Difference?

Hospitality management and tourism management are often considered one in the same. But in fact, they are two different industries with different scopes in business.

Hospitality management is a field that focuses on all aspects of hospitality operations including hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, amusement parks, country clubs, and convention centers while tourism management focuses on tourism development, management of the travel industry, tourism marketing, and tourism services.

Doesn’t seem like much of a difference, right? Hospitality and tourism do go hand-in-hand, but they are different two branches of study for good reason. Tourism entails the movement of people to places outside their usual environment. Hospitality entails the comfort and wellbeing of guests at a variety of events and establishments.

If you’re interested in helping people plan great vacations, earning a degree in tourism management might be up or your alley. But if you would rather manage a restaurant, a boutique hotel, or a resort spa, a degree in hospitality management is a good place to start.

What Does a Travel Agent Do?

A travel agent is a popular career choice for tourism management majors. A good travel agent is responsible for helping customers plan and prepare for a cruise or trip. To do their job, travel agents often visit resorts, hotels, and restaurants to learn how they work from the inside. These visits help agents determine the best travel options for their clients. Travel agents typically book everything from flights to hotel reservations. They also help with car rentals, airport transfers, and restaurant recommendations. Other duties include:

  • Determine customers’ needs and preferences, such as schedules and costs
  • Plan and arrange tour packages, excursions, and day trips
  • Calculate total travel costs
  • Book reservations for travel, hotels, rental cars, and special events, such as tours and excursions
  • Tell clients about their trip, including details on required documents, such as passports or visas
  • Give advice about local weather conditions, customs, and attractions
  • Make alternate booking arrangements if changes arise before or during the trip

What Does a Hotel or Restaurant Manager Do?

While a degree in hospitality management prepares graduates for a number of different careers, a hotel or restaurant manager are two of the most popular. Hospitality jobs are often demanding professions but equally rewarding and fun! If you’re passionate about food, planning events, or managing a boutique or high-end hotel, earning a degree in hospitality management is often the first step towards a career in this field. While job duties vary, hotel managers are typically responsible for the following:

  • Inspect guest rooms, public areas, and grounds for cleanliness and appearance
  • Ensure that standards for guest service, décor, housekeeping, and food quality are met
  • Answer questions from guests about hotel policies and services
  • Keep track of how much money the hotel or lodging facility is making
  • Interview, hire, train, and sometimes fire staff members
  • Monitor staff performance to ensure that guests are happy and the hotel is well run
  • Coordinate front-office activities of hotels or motels and resolve problems
  • Set room rates and budgets, approve expenditures, and allocate funds to various departments

    Conversely, a restaurant manager is often responsible for the following tasks:

  • Interview, hire, train, oversee, and sometimes fire employees
  • Oversee the inventory and ordering of food and beverage, equipment, and supplies
  • Monitor food preparation methods, portion sizes, and the overall presentation of food
  • Comply with health and food safety standards and regulations
  • Monitor the actions of employees and patrons to ensure everyone’s personal safety
  • Investigate and resolve complaints regarding food quality or service
  • Keep budgets and payroll records and review financial transactions
  • Establish standards for personnel performance and customer service

The similarities between the two industries are clear. Both jobs require strong management and leadership skills. And you can probably discern the connection between tourism management and hospitality management; however, the career opportunities available in each field are quite different and require specific skill sets and distinct academic backgrounds.