Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Hospitality


If you have ever spent time working in hospitality, chances are the thought has crossed your mind that everyone should spend time working in hospitality. These lessons cross so many industries and specialties that it is viewed as almost a rite of passage into working adulthood. I humbly present some of my personal favorites:

  1. Work hard, play hard – People who work in service know how to do things all the way. They work long hours, don’t waste time on the job, and know how to have fun.
  2. Full hand in, full hands out – This is the mantra of many a floor manager. These people know how to maximize their time and talent to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.
  3. Be kind – The customer may not always be right, but hospitality people know how to navigate the trickiest of situations, correct mistakes, and handle every personality type. This is the gold standard for customer service training and implementation.
  4. Treat every person with dignity – Hotels manage to peacefully combine people from all over the world and all walks of life under one roof. Treating each person with respect pays in happy guests, which means a peaceful work environment. Not to mention the fact that one often does not know when they are assisting a brand executive or someone in their desired career field. Many an opportunity knocks after an outstanding customer service interaction.
  5. Be on time – Any 24-hour operation that relies on capable individuals to keep it running smoothly requires timeliness. Being late lets your team down and creates more work for everyone else. Reliability is a highly prized characteristic in hospitality.
  6. Hard work and upward mobility go hand-in-hand – There are countless stories of hotel owners who started out as bellhops. This is one of the most upwardly mobile industries in existence, largely because hospitality gets in your blood. You have to love and understand it in order to be great at it, and that often begins at entry-level positions. Most great hotel managers have experience and knowledge in every department they run, and are as capable of unclogging a toilet or making a bed as they are running numbers and hiring talent.
  7. Learn by doing – Training and leadership are very important to establish standards of care, but true hospitality is innate. The best way to learn the business is to jump in and start doing. Established leaders are needed to guide hands on experience, which in turn builds a solid and capable team.
  8. Sometimes rules have to be broken – Is this my favorite lesson? Probably. In all seriousness, we’ve all heard the complaints about the word “policy” in customer interactions. Sometimes all it takes to save the day is a little bit of staff empowerment to handle disputes creatively.

What life-lessons have you learned working in hospitality?