Tourism in the UK is on the up, which means people need good places to stay, with great service – making now the perfect time to join the hotel industry!
There are more than 46,000 hotels in the UK, from small bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels to grand five-star establishments – and all those businesses need staff. In fact, the hospitality industry as a whole is the UK’s fourth largest employer, providing jobs for nearly 4.5 million people – around 10% of the workforce1.
With Brexit on the horizon, the industry is facing uncertainty, with the possibility that tourism and business travel may be adversely hit. On the other hand, a weak pound makes the UK a cheaper holiday destination. And if fewer EU workers remain in the UK after Brexit, there may be an increase in job vacancies.
The hotel industry offers a huge variety of roles, from entry-level jobs such as laundry assistant and porter, to senior management roles. Many people start at the bottom and work their way up, but there are also opportunities for training and gaining qualifications. These range from short diploma courses to three-year degrees in hospitality management. These will equip you in the practical and business knowledge required to launch a successful career. Apprenticeships and graduate trainee schemes are also available.
You’ll have very different experiences depending on the size of the hotel employing you. In a large establishment, roles will be more specific, but you may also have greater opportunities to progress and train. In a small hotel, you’ll probably have to be more flexible and willing to help out in different departments, which will allow you to develop a broader skill set and try out different roles.
There are many casual, seasonal and part-time jobs available, which may fit well around studying or family commitments. So, if you’re interested in working in the hospitality industry, here are a few of the roles available.
The concierge is the first point of contact for hotel guests, with the task of ensuring they get the best possible service. Duties include greeting guests, booking taxis, making dinner reservations, delivering messages and recommending local attractions and services. You may also manage door staff and porters.
What skills do I need? Any qualifications or experience you have in hospitality or hotel management will stand you in good stead, but it’s much more important to have a professional, outgoing personality and be able to build a rapport with guests. You’ll need to be confident, adaptable, efficient, patient and reliable, and have good knowledge of the local area. Foreign languages skills are also an advantage. Apprenticeships are available.
How can I progress? You can work your way up to head concierge or senior management positions.
How much can I earn? Salaries start at £14,000, rising to £20,000 with experience. Shifts are common.
This is the person responsible for supervising all staff who deal directly with customers, including reception, porters and concierges. This includes overseeing front-desk operations, evaluating guest satisfaction, setting department objectives and managing budgets, policies and procedures. You’ll also recruit and train staff.
What skills do I need? A degree or diploma in hotel management will be an advantage, as will any experience of front-of-house operations (in hotels, retail or other leisure sectors). However, some people work their way up from a position such as concierge. You’ll need to demonstrate good people management, leadership and communication skills, and an ability to thrive under pressure. Accounting and IT skills are also helpful.
How can I progress? You can move on to larger hotels and to more senior management positions.
How much can I earn? Salaries start at £17,000, rising to £33,000 for an experienced manager in a large hotel. Shift work is common.
The housekeeper is in charge of ensuring all rooms are kept clean and tidy, and maintaining high standards. You will allocate tasks and draw up rotas for a team of cleaning staff, as well as recruiting, training and supervising. You’ll manage budgets and supplies, and monitor damage or faults and arrange necessary repairs.
What skills do I need? Some people start as a room attendant and work their way up, but most housekeepers have experience or qualifications in hospitality. You need to be efficient with good organisational and problem-solving skills, and the ability to motivate staff. You also need a thorough understanding of health and safety issues.
How can I progress? You can move up to head housekeeper or executive housekeeper, or progress into management and training roles. You can also transfer your skills into other institutions, such as universities and hospitals.
How much can I earn? Salaries start at £14,000, rising to £25,000 for a head housekeeper. Accommodation may be provided.
A hotel porter greets guests and escorts them to their suites, carries their luggage, shows them around their rooms and describes the hotel’s facilities. You may also give directions to local sites, park guests’ cars and run errands, such as picking up dry cleaning. In the event of an emergency situation, such as a fire, you’ll help to evacuate guests.
What skills do I need? There are diplomas in porter service and customer service, but primarily you need a smart appearance, excellent customer service skills and a pleasant, helpful manner. You’ll also need to be fit as you’re on your feet most of the day. A driving licence is an advantage.
How can I progress? You can advance to the position of head porter or concierge, progress to larger hotels, or move into other areas of the hotel, such as reception or housekeeping.
How much can I earn? Salaries start at £10,000, rising to £19,000 with experience. Shift work is common.
Hotels generate an enormous amount of laundry each day, including bed linen, towels and staff uniforms, plus laundry services for guests. As a laundry assistant you will be responsible for ensuring all linen is clean and available on a strict schedule, as well as finishing items by drying, pressing and folding. The role also includes quality control checks, stock taking and orders, tagging items for identification, and maintaining orderly storage.
What skills do I need? No qualifications are required, but you’ll need to be well organised, able to follow specific instructions (for instance, for running washing machines, handling detergents and washing delicate fabrics) and have good timekeeping. A positive attitude will take you far, and you will also need to be reasonably fit as you will be on your feet all day and carrying washing. Any previous laundry or hotel experience is an advantage, but most employers will train you on the job. Apprenticeships are available.
How can I progress? You can progress to laundry supervisor and other housekeeping management roles. You could also start your own laundry business.
How much can I earn? Salaries start at £11,000, rising to £18,000 with experience. Shift patterns are a standard part of the job.