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5 Essential Soft Skills for Careers in Hospitality and Tourism

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated October 11, 2021 Updated October 11, 2021

Sponsored by IULM

Are you an empathetic problem-solver with strong time management skills and resilience under pressure? If so, you should probably consider careers in hospitality and tourism. Your attributes could be highly desirable in the sector in years to come, as more hospitality and tourism businesses recognize the importance of ‘soft skills’.

Often, hospitality and tourism recruiters will invest in training a less-experienced candidate if they perceive her/him to possess the right personality and soft skills for the job. Think you’ve got what it takes? Read on to discover five essential soft skills for careers in hospitality and tourism…

1. Empathy and emotional intelligence

It goes without saying that digital transformation carries the future of the hospitality and tourism industry, but this does not mean the industry will become depersonalized. On the contrary, investing in human capital is key to finding innovative solutions in an ever-changing scenario. People determine the success of an organization and, if this holds true across all fields, it is even more important for service-based industries like hospitality and tourism.

2. Teamwork

Among specific qualifications demanded by a wide range of host companies and organizations, the ability to integrate into the existing team is often considered essential when choosing a candidate. In order to satisfy this need, IULM’s internship and placement department offers a counseling service aimed at supporting and preparing students for the interview process, and to ensure appropriate mentoring during the internship. “We help students improve their personal skills,” explains Cristina Sottotetti, IULM internship and placement director, “which are […] necessary […] to achieve professional success.”

3. Stress and time management

Hospitality managers will often work on several things at once, managing a heavy work load at a fast pace. It’s easy to let your emotions run wild when you are asked to do several things at once over a short time span and forced to deal with unexpected problems… For careers in hospitality and tourism, you need to be prepared to multi-task and remain cool and collected if you are to achieve greater efficiency and customer satisfaction!  

4. Problem-solving

Whether you’re dealing with a difficult client or faced with internal issues, the ability to think on your feet and suggest feasible solutions to problems is one of the most valued soft skills for careers in hospitality and tourism, and certainly a determining factor when it comes to professional success. Whatever your specialty, you will need to learn how to manage a crisis, from identifying the problem to evaluating how well you did and what could be improved in future.

5. Strategy and innovation

Hospitality and tourism HR managers tend to favor candidates who are allergic to the “if it ain't broke don't fix it” mantra and will go the extra mile to innovate. “At Starwood [Hotel and Resorts],” explains Arianna Agresti, Starwood Milan Area HR Supervisor, “we look for talents with strong team-working skills and this is yearly measured through our apposite survey.” She adds, “Among strategic and innovative skills we mention the ‘going beyond borders’ attitude: the ability to keep looking for new opportunities and solutions even if there are established procedures.”

This article was originally published in October 2016 . It was last updated in October 2021

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