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Who's Who: Hospitality Industry

Who's Who: Hospitality Industry

Chef's Blade

The vast majority of workers in this industry—more than 4 out of 5 in 2006—were employed in service and office and administrative support occupations. Workers in these occupations usually learn their skills on the job. Postsecondary education is not required for most entry-level positions; however, college training is extremely helpful for advancement in some of the occupations. For those in administrative support—mainly hotel desk clerks—and service occupations, positive personality traits and a customer-service orientation may be more important than formal schooling. Traits most important for success in the hotels and other accommodations industry are good communication skills; the ability to get along with people in stressful situations; a neat, clean appearance; and a pleasant manner.

Service occupations.

Service workers are by far the largest occupational group in the industry, accounting for 65 percent of the industry’s employment. Most service jobs are in housekeeping occupations—including building cleaning workers, maids and housekeeping cleaners, and janitors and cleaners—and in food preparation and serving jobs—including chefs and head cooks, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, fast food and counter workers, and various other kitchen and dining room workers. The industry also employs many baggage porters and bellhops, gaming services workers, and grounds maintenance workers.

Workers in cleaning and housekeeping occupations ensure that the lodging facility is clean and in good condition for the comfort and safety of guests. Maids and housekeeping cleaners clean lobbies, halls, guestrooms, and bathrooms. They make sure that guests not only have clean rooms, but have all the necessary furnishings and supplies. They change sheets and towels, vacuum carpets, dust furniture, empty wastebaskets, and mop bathroom floors. In larger hotels, the housekeeping staff may include assistant housekeepers, floor supervisors, housekeepers, and executive housekeepers. Janitors help with the cleaning of the public areas of the facility, empty trash, and perform minor maintenance work.

Workers in the various food preparation and serving occupations deal with customers in the dining room or at a service counter. Waiters and waitresses take customers’ orders, serve meals, and prepare checks. In smaller establishments, they often set tables, escort guests to their seats, accept payment, and clear tables. In larger restaurants, some of these tasks are assigned to other workers.

Hosts and hostesses welcome guests, show them to their tables, and give them menus. Bartenders fill beverage orders for customers seated at the bar or from waiters and waitresses who serve patrons at tables. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers assist waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by clearing, cleaning, and setting up tables, replenishing supplies at the bar, and keeping the serving areas stocked with linens, tableware, and other supplies. Fast food and counter workers take orders and serve food at fast-food counters and in coffee shops; they also may operate the cash register.

Chefs, cooks and food preparation workers prepare food in the kitchen. Larger hotels employ chefs and cooks who specialize in the preparation of many different kinds of food. They may have titles such as salad chef, grill chef, or pastry chef. Individual chefs may oversee the day-to-day operations of different kitchens in a hotel, such as a fine-dining full-service restaurant, a casual or counter-service establishment, or banquet operations. Chef positions generally are attained after years of experience and, sometimes, formal training, including apprenticeships. Larger establishments also employ executive chefs and food and beverage directors who plan menus, purchase food, and supervise kitchen personnel for all of the kitchens in the property. Food preparation workers shred lettuce for salads, cut up food for cooking, and perform simple cooking steps under the direction of the chef or head cook. Beginners may advance to more skilled food preparation jobs with experience or specialized culinary training.

Many full-service hotels employ a uniformed staff to assist arriving and departing guests. Baggage porters and bellhops carry bags and escort guests to their rooms. Concierges arrange special or personal services for guests. They may take messages, arrange for babysitting, make restaurant reservations, provide directions, arrange for or give advice on entertainment and local attractions, and monitor requests for housekeeping and maintenance. Doorkeepers help guests into and out of their cars, summon taxis, and carry baggage into the hotel lobby.

Hotels also employ the largest percentage of gaming services workers because much of gaming takes place in casino hotels. Some gaming services positions are associated with oversight and direction—supervision, surveillance, and investigation—while others involve working with the games or patrons themselves, by tending the slot machines, handling money, writing and running tickets, dealing cards, and performing related duties.

The industry also employs a large number of recreation and fitness workers. At resort hotels and at vacation and recreational camps, recreation workers organize and conduct recreation activities for guests and campers. Camp counselors lead and instruct children and teenagers in outdoor-oriented forms of recreation, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. In addition, counselors at vacation and resident camps also provide guidance and supervise daily living and general socialization. Other types of campgrounds may employ trail guides for activities such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.

Office and administrative support occupations.

These positions accounted for 19 percent of the jobs in hotels and other accommodations in 2006. Hotel desk clerks, bookkeeping and accounting clerks, and switchboard operators ensure that the front office operates smoothly. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks process reservations and guests’ registrations and checkouts, monitor arrivals and departures, handle complaints, and receive and forward mail. The duties of hotel desk clerks depend on the size of the facility. In smaller lodging places, one clerk or a manager may do everything. In larger hotels, a larger staff divides the duties among several types of clerks.

Management, business, and financial operations occupations.

Hotels and other lodging places employ many different types of managers to direct and coordinate the activities of the front office, kitchen, dining room, and other departments, such as housekeeping, accounting, personnel, purchasing, publicity, sales, security and maintenance. Lodging managers, typically the general manager and assistant managers, make decisions that affect the general operations of the hotel, including setting room rates, establishing credit policy, and having ultimate responsibility for resolving problems. In smaller establishments, lodging managers also may perform many of the front-office clerical tasks. In the smallest establishments, the owners—sometimes a family team—do all the work necessary to operate the business.

Other managers are responsible for different phases of hotel operations. For example, food and beverage managers oversee restaurants, lounges, and catering or banquet operations. Rooms managers look after reservations and occupancy levels to ensure proper room assignments and authorize discounts, special rates, or promotions. Large hotels, especially those with conference centers, use an executive committee structure to improve departmental communications and coordinate activities. Other managers who may serve on a hotel’s executive committee include public relations or sales managers, human resource directors, executive housekeepers, and heads of hotel security.

Other occupations.

Hotels and other accommodations employ a variety of workers found in many other industries. General maintenance and repair workers fix leaky faucets, do some painting and carpentry, make sure that heating and air-conditioning equipment works properly, mow lawns, and exterminate pests. The industry also employs cashiers, accountants, personnel workers, and entertainers. As properties acquire and use more sophisticated computer systems, they employ more computer specialists to help maintain these systems as well as the hotel’s website, and computer connections for guests. Also, many additional workers inside a hotel may work for other companies under contract to the hotel or may provide personal or retail services directly to hotel guests from space rented by the hotel. This group includes guards and security officers, barbers, cosmetologists, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, valets, gardeners, and parking attendants.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).