How to get a job in corporate hospitality
Corporate hospitality is a fun industry to work in but it does take a lot to succeed in this sector. For those looking to further their skills or start a career in hospitality, this article covers the three main requirements that an individual needs: experience, leadership skills and determination.
Experience is one of the most important factors. Like any job in management, you need to have knowledge of the industry through working experience not just academia. If you’re at university or college and your course offers a placement scheme, take the opportunity. It’s important that you have at least a year’s experience working full time in a position that allowed you to apply your academic knowledge to working situations and gain new skills. It’s also beneficial to get a part-time job in the industry while you’re studying. Jobs such as waitressing and bar work will help you get ahead and they are always looking to take on students.
Volunteering or finding casual work for major events such as race days or popular sporting events will also help you to gain experience. Many companies like to entertain guests at these events; there are usually opportunities for employees to move up in departments to team leaders. Again this will give you experience in managing people and delegating tasks.
Universities and colleges have different types of hospitality courses. If your course is quite broad, for example events management, choose a module that is more specific to hospitality. This will help to increase your chances of starting at a higher level.
Another option is to work your way up by gaining knowledge of the industry through a job in hospitality. Many employers – especially chain businesses – offer NVQ courses to employees that want to expand their skills and go up to the next level, so be sure to ask your employer if this is an option if you’re looking for future career development. These courses are usually free to you if you stay with the company for a certain amount of time, and will be a great addition to your CV if you do eventually move to another organisation. You can find niches within the hospitality industry too, such as finance, marketing or sales – it’s not all about working on the hotel floor. But what you do need – no matter which department you work in – is a love of interacting with and helping people.
While you’re gaining experience remember to network and make valuable connections. If your area manager is visiting be polite and make conversation, why not ask them for some advice on progressing within the company, or how they progressed to their current role?
If you want to manage people you need to know how to lead them, it’s the difference between being a good manager and a great manager. Since the recession, the hospitality industry has become more demanding and leadership qualities are something that will get you ahead in the industry.
Leaders need to show a good mix of both people and business skills. People skills are something you can practise in any job that requires you to interact with customers and other employees. But to be a successful leader in the industry you need to have determination, drive and good communication skills. Get to know your team’s strengths and weaknesses, everyone’s different so delegate different jobs to suited people and always be on hand to help your team and muck in if necessary.
Sharon McElhinney, Senior Lecturer for Events Management, Leeds Metropolitan University, has advice for those seeking to start a career in corporate hospitality. “It’s important for anyone working in this industry to know your market and its unique selling point, whether it’s high- or low-end, people have paid for an enjoyable experience and they want value for money. As an individual you need to have excellent people skills, even if you mainly work off the floor. A manager needs to have a working knowledge of the operational side of the event so they can’t hide in an office all day and night.”
The hospitality industry is a fun and challenging industry. It’s full of great opportunities but it takes determination and dedication as well as team work, explains Sharon. “Determination, drive and taking ownership of a situation are also extremely important. It’s an industry where pleasing the customer is the main focus. You need to know how to defuse negative situations or potential crises, so having the ability to think on your feet with get you far.”
This article was written by Laura Woodhouse who works on behalf of the Puma Hotels Collection.