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5 Career Tips to Get Ahead in Hospitality Management

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated April 20, 2021 Updated April 20, 2021

Sponsored by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Hospitality is the largest employment sector in the world, according to a report from last year by Ernst & Young, but it doesn’t take in-depth analysis to look around and see it’s a booming and highly profitable sector. With stable growth predicted for the next few decades and many highly lucrative specializations, ranging from food and beverages to sustainable hotels and adventure tourism, this is a highly attractive area to build a career in.

If you’re hoping to break into the hospitality industry - whether it’s because you’re passionate about high-end hotels or possess unparalleled people skills - you probably already know that there are two sides to the industry: front-line operations, which include things like food and guest service, and business management. There are many opportunities on the corporate side too, in areas like market analysis, press relations, human resources or digital marketing.

To help you figure out your next career steps, we spoke to the experts running The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s renowned School of Hotel and Tourism Management to give you the very best advice on how to get ahead in the industry. 

1. Find your niche specialization and master it 

The hospitality and tourism industry is very broad, with many different subsets and niche  specializations with their own very unique skillsets. Narrowing these down to a niche interest could save you a great deal of time. If, for example, your ambition is to manage a five-star hotel chain or a luxury resort, why not email one to enquire about any internships or apprenticeships they offer?

Of course, doing a bachelor’s degree in a specialist field, such as hotel management, would give you a head-start. Other specializations may include things like tourism management, convention and event management, global hospitality or even wine management. Discover other amazing specializations here

2. A simple change of scenery could transform your life

When it comes to hospitality, being a small fish in a big pond can definitely be an asset, so don’t hesitate to jump at any opportunity to move abroad or to a bigger city where you might be likely to have more impact.

Moving abroad could also be a way to tap into an emerging market. China will have surpassed the US hospitality industry in absolute industry growth as early as 2019, according to the Deloitte’s Hospitality 2015 report. To tap into this business opportunity, why not research the needs of Asian consumers at a university in the region, like The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s acclaimed School of Hotel and Tourism Management? Having an international edge would certainly give you an enormous advantage over other job applicants, especially in a global industry like hospitality.

3. Teach yourself social media skills 

From mobile check-ins to digital concierges, mobile technologies have already revolutionized the hospitality and tourism industry. Industry leaders are incorporating social media and apps into their marketing toolkit, with most businesses trying to find new ways to deliver value to customers. So, it might be a good idea to teach yourself new online skills like social media content curation, data analytics or even how to manage customer feedback online, as most roles in the industry are as likely to require expertise in these areas as they are to call for traditional service skills.

Experiment with different social media tools like Hootsuite, TweetDeck or Buffer and get comfortable with analyzing how audiences are interacting with content posted on social media. Also, familiarize yourself with other aspects of the digital world, such as media auditing and blogging. You don’t need to have thousands of followers to get a job in hospitality, but hospitality is very much affected by social trends which affect consumer behavior. Stay ahead of the curve, and understand how to leverage different platforms to reach out to consumers.

4. Your college bartending experience won’t get you a job

Don’t assume that a part-time job you had in high school or university is sufficient work experience to break into the hospitality sector. Look into getting hotel or tourism managerial experience and demand to be shown all the different areas of the business. Enthusiasm is often the one key attributes in the sector. If you can demonstrate enough interest in doing a particular role, you're likely to be given the freedom to develop yourself in that area.

5. Consider enrolling in further study

There are many routes into hospitality management and education is one of them. Many graduates choose further study as a way to get their foot in the door and specialize in a particular area of hospitality. If that sounds like something you might be interested in, you can search for the best bachelor’s, MScs, D.HTM and PhDs in hospitality here.  

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s online program, their MicroMasters in International Hospitality Management, is often seen as a fast track to their on-campus MSc in International Hospitality Management.

This article was originally published in January 2018 . It was last updated in April 2021

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