Hospitality is a rewarding career path where customer satisfaction reigns supreme. Excelling in the role requires a specific skillset, whether you’re interested in entering the restaurant or hotel industry. What do you need to get into hospitality?
Here are the required soft and hard skills to work in hospitality:
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Time management
- Active listening
- It’s indeed a laundry list of required skills to work in the hospitality sector, but they make the best hospitality professionals. Keep reading for more information so you can begin exploring your exciting new career!
Here’s What You Need to Get Into Hospitality
Your hospitality role is to serve, but problems will inevitably arise. Perhaps there was a mix-up at the front desk at the hotel, or the customer didn’t like their meal. How you handle these situations defines you.
You must be able to remain calm to defuse tense situations. Your cooler head will prevail by preventing escalating tensions, even if the customer is screaming. You must be ready to think on your feet and make the situation right, whatever that entails.
Your problem-solving skills should apply to everyday work situations where there aren’t such heated emotions involved. You should also be able to solve issues involving your fellow staff members, stepping in and mitigating the situation without dominating and causing resentment.
Putting a customer at ease and maximizing their enjoyment of your services begins with clear, open, and honest communication. You should be an effective communicator in verbal and nonverbal languages.
For example, you know how to make eye contact that feels welcoming and warm but never lingers too long. You can read customer body language to predict the tone of the exchange before it happens.
You always mean what you say, and you speak plainly and clearly. You don’t use confusing jargon or big words to seem intellectually superior. You’re upfront so everyone can clearly understand your meaning.
You can liaison with just about anybody, from front-desk staff to customers, your manager, and even their manager. You greet people with a smile and never skip a beat.
You must also possess deep knowledge of your chosen profession and your specific workplace. You’ll learn the latter after being hired and starting. Pay attention during your training, but also listen in on how your fellow staff members handle customers and speak about the role.
You’ll eventually do the same, so it’s like gaining hands-on experience beyond your training modules.
Eventually, you’ll become a walking, talking encyclopedia of everything related to your job. You can recommend items from the menu without even looking at it, and you know exactly all the tour stops on your route by heart.
This kind of knowledge puts a customer’s mind at ease and ensures they spend their hard-earned money wisely.
Hospitality jobs may promote relaxation and wellbeing, but they occur at a breakneck pace. They’re highly stressful and can test one’s limits.
However, you must have emotional intelligence in spades to succeed in this industry. Emotional intelligence refers to expressing your emotions as appropriate for a situation. It requires empathy, self-regulation, self-awareness, and social skills.
For example, let’s say you work at a restaurant, and you get yelled at by a customer. As mentioned earlier, you should remain calm while dealing with the customer’s complaints. However, you wouldn’t get upset, cry, or scream back at them. You’d maintain your professionalism.
That’s emotional intelligence at work.
No one person makes a hospitality business thrive on its own. You’re part of a team, even if everyone is at different ranks. You must be able to coexist with your coworkers for the betterment of the customer experience.
You might occupy a leadership role in some instances (as we’ll talk more about shortly), but more importantly, you must let others step up to the plate and try on that role for themselves. Trust in the word of others and believe that they’re making a good decision for the team.
When a situation arises and your team needs a leader, you must be willing to step up to the plate. You shouldn’t do this for the power or glory but because of your expertise, knowledge, and skill. Your team trusts you to steer them right, so do your best.
You can still possess leadership skills even when you’re not in charge of a team. A good leader should be empathetic, creative, strategic, quick-thinking, flexible, reliable, and communicative. Working on those skills will position you to excel if your hospitality role evolves beyond where you started.
Hospitality roles require organization, whether you’re a cosmetologist, head chef, concierge, tour guide, fitness instructor, or hotel receptionist. Your job will require you to deal with large volumes of customer data, which you must keep current.
Your company will likely use a customer relationship manager (CRM) or point-of-sale (POS) system, perhaps both. These systems will make it easier to organize and reference customer data.
You can also build on a customer’s profile, which will benefit others in your job who also deal with the same customer.
You must also keep ongoing orders and client appointments organized to prevent delays and double-booking yourself.
Expect the unexpected in the hospitality industry. No two days on the job are alike, so you’ll constantly be on your toes. It’s a challenging work environment, but it’s certainly never boring.
You must be adaptable to work in hospitality. Matters can change on the fly, plans can fall through, and you might have to be ready to step up to the plate and replace someone else or help out the team.
You can shift your focus quickly without taking too much time to get up to speed, as you’ll only waste valuable time that you probably don’t have.
We all have 24 hours each day, but you get far fewer than that to work. A 12-hour shift can all at once feel like too much time and too little in many hospitality jobs.
Customers expect instant service when serving them at a restaurant or checking them into a hotel. You and your teammates must have good time management.
Let’s use a restaurant as an example. You must get the customers’ orders to the kitchen so the chef can begin preparing the meal in enough time. Then you must serve the order before it goes cold.
You must monitor your table to collect their dishes when they’re finished, offer a dessert menu, deliver the check, and process it. Customers especially don’t like to be left waiting for their checks.
Keep in mind you’re not doing this with only one table but several at once. You must excel at delegating the appropriate amount of time for a task.
Another skill hospitality professionals must possess is active listening. This differs from regular listening, which usually entails hearing what the other person says.
Active listening happens before the other person even begins speaking. You prepare yourself to listen. When the conversation happens, you study the nonverbal and verbal meanings. You might repeat back what you heard or summarize the points and ask open-ended questions.
This more empathetic form of listening can effectively resolve conflicts, improve trust, and encourage open dialogue. You can speak confidently on the matter because you know you have the full story.
By the way, active listening is just as advantageous in your personal life as your professional life, so it’s a great skill to build.
Working in hospitality means becoming a multitasking master. You can answer the phone while checking a customer’s order, handle multiple customers at once, and juggle other tasks with enviable balance and precision.
Multitasking isn’t easy, but it’s a skill worth developing. However, you must make sure you’re doing each task fully and correctly. If you half-complete one task at the expense of another, you will end up giving some customers the short end of the stick.
Hospitality is a more creative industry than some give it credit for. You don’t get to flex your creative muscle in quite the same way as some occupations, but it’s anything but stifled.
You’ll have many opportunities to engage creative solutions that will give your customers a better experience, whether that’s new lighting in the dining room, another set of exercise equipment, or a different tour route.
Patience is the last thing you need to get into hospitality, and you must possess it in spades. Empathy and active listening will help you work on your patience, as you’ll learn not to interject when someone else is speaking.
Having patience doesn’t mean the absence of frustration, disappointment, or even anger in some situations. Instead, it means that you maintain your grace and professionalism above all else, and that it takes quite a lot to get a rise out of you.
You might find that your patience is in short supply as you begin in the hospitality industry. You’re right to be frazzled at first, but once you find your bearings and get to know what to expect on the job, it will take a lot more to rattle you.
Hospitality requires a mix of hard and soft skills that complement on-the-job training. These skills will make you an impeccable hospitality employee and a shining star in the eyes of your customers!