The high value of low-skilled jobs in the hotel industry
It’s not uncommon for senior managers and executives in the hotel industry to have started their careers “at the bottom,” gaining experience and moving up the ladder to reach the positions they hold today. The hospitality industry values experience and they often promote from within. There is a wide variety of job opportunities in this industry and many of the larger hotels offer training and development programs to their employees.
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) along with WageWatch, Inc., many general managers, senior executives and CEO’s began their careers in hourly, entry-level jobs. Clearly, in the hotel industry, you can find life-long employment, job satisfaction and swift promotions. Most employees can become eligible for promotion after just one year. “From front desk to the CEO Suite, hotel jobs can offer a fast track to management.”
The report reveals that turnover is surprisingly low within the industry. Ninety percent of salaried employees and 75 percent of hourly workers who responded to the survey stayed with their company for an average of 5 or more years. As hourly workers move up (often within a year), they create new openings for the next group of new employees to begin their professional careers.
A Good Place to Start
In housekeeping, you can really showcase your attention to detail and potential leadership abilities. You’ll start by cleaning rooms and common areas, changing beds, removing trash and sanitizing bathrooms. In a year’s time, you might apply for a front desk position or go into other areas of the hotel’s operations to broaden your experience.
In food and beverage service, you may start out by stacking and replacing products, serving or delivering food/beverages (room service), preparing work areas, cleaning up dining rooms, etc. To move up in this area, employees can attend hospitality courses to become line cooks and chefs or learn the business side of food service by obtaining a Management Certificate in Hospitality.
Another common entry point for many who are new to the hotel business is the front desk, where you typically don’t need special training; usually a high school diploma is fine. You’ll be handling payments, making reservations, checking guests in and out and keeping an eye on which room are available. Once you’ve proven yourself, your next step is to become a front-desk supervisor and then possibly advance on to assistant manager.
Regardless of where you start out and what you’re doing, you’re watching, learning and getting exposure to the hotel business and how to work in teams, interact with guests and be responsible for your daily assignments. It’s all good experience and offers you a chance to try out a few different jobs to see what suits you best.
According to Jo Neill, former HR Director at the historic Hotel Boulderado in Boulder, CO, “it’s great having new employees with little or no experience and who start at the bottom.” They don’t have any bad habits and are a blank slate for training them to do things the way your particular hotel prefers.
Jo believes “the skills learned in the early, entry-level phase of this career are easily transferred to the next level and beyond: especially customer service skills. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in maintenance and are coming into a guest’s room to fix something or if you’re in housekeeping and are delivering fresh towels, customer service comes into play whenever you are interacting with guests.”
It’s a great time to be in the hotel business. New technologies and dynamic growth are constantly driving new jobs and opportunities. Since people are the focus of this industry, helping employees advance and achieve greater success is all part of the hotel’s plan.