8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Career In Hospitality

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I know we all got asked this question growing up and probably still do to this day. Truth is, I had no idea. Fresh out of high school I headed to community college to become a medical assistant. Why? Trust me, I have no idea. I had no why and no purpose so I did what most people did at 17 when going to college in your household was mandatory and not an option, I picked something that sounded good when answering the previous question.

So how did I go from ” What the heck do I want to do with my life?” to “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE I FINALLY GOT MY WINGS. THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE”? Well, it sure wasn’t easy but what I do know these are some of the things I wish I knew ahead of time. Let me share them with you because I’m nice or whatever.

#1 Say goodbye to weekends off

This one might seem obvious. But really, sometimes it can be hard to know you are working every weekend. When people ask you, “so what are your plans for the weekend?” and your answer is always “working”. It can be tough, but on the bright side it is kind of nice to have a weekday off while everyone else is at work. Of course, you might have some weekends off. As a flight attendant, I’ve had the chance to request every weekend off in a month and gotten them all accepted. However, when I worked as a front desk agent for hotels, that was not the case. It was almost a miracle if I had a weekend day off. But also, the perks that come with the job can be enjoyed almost any day of the week.

#2 Don’t take things personal

It took me almost three years of working in hotels to finally stop letting other people’s negativity get to me. I used to go home and cry about guest’s attitudes more often than I would like to admit. One of the secrets to making it in this industry, always remember that you are not responsible for people’s bad days. Their attitude has nothing to do with you. And honestly, a good amount of the time people would come back and apologize to me, so really, do not take things personal.

#3 A smile can go a long way

I always used to wonder why my managers would continually ask me to smile at guests. I used to think that a simple hello should be enough. Boy was I wrong. A simple smile can make an angry guest realize they might be acting extra and often times they change their attitude when they see you keep smiling. It also helps when you make a boo boo and give them a sincere apology with a smile. Also, smiling makes you feel so much better and gets you compliments so win win really.

#4 Empathize

Put yourself in other’s shoes. A guest’s request might seem “crazy” to you but at the end of the day, they are spending money for a service. Keep in mind not everyone has the privilege of traveling often, some save for months or even years to take that one trip a year. Listen to your guests/customers, be human.

#5 Don’t give up

Do not give up on that rude guest that comes every week. Continue smiling and greeting them every time you see them, trust me one day they’ll crack and have no choice but to like you. Do not give up in the industry. You’re starting to lose interest in hotels? Maybe try a different hotel brand or tier. There is a difference in clientele depending on the type of hotel and the location. Or simply try a different area of the industry such as cruise lines, airlines or entertainment, the choices are endless. I went from hotels to aviation. I love them both to be honest.

#6 Everyday is a new day

Just because you had 70 check ins the previous day by yourself or had upset guests due to a flight delay or cancellation does not mean that the next day will be just as “bad”. Unexpected things happen every day in this industry and every day is different. That is truly the beauty of it, you learn something new, experience something new, meet new people every day. Word of advice, take those bad days as lessons, next time the same thing happens you will know how to handle it and it only makes you stronger and wiser.

#7 You don’t need a degree in hospitality

This one stings a little, I mean 50k in student loans suck. Personally, I am happy I received my Tourism and Hospitality Management Bachelor degree. However, you do not need this degree specifically to excel in this industry. One of my managers had an English degree, my General Manager had a degree in Accounting, people from all walks of life can work in the hospitality industry. Shoot, you can have no degree and work your way up. Start at the front desk of a hotel, as a lifeguard at a resort’s pool, a dishwasher in the kitchen. You can start anywhere and with ambition and dedication you can work your way up to your desired position. Side note; I am not encouraging you to not get an education nor am I condoning you to get one, the choice is always yours just be aware that regardless you can work in this industry.

#8 It’s okay if your interests change

One thing I have learned is that it is totally okay if you think you were going to love the hotel industry but after a few years realize you no longer do. After spending 4 years in hotels, I finally landed my dream job as a flight attendant. Even though both are in the same industry, they fall into different sections of the umbrella. Regardless, I am extremely thankful for the years spent in hotels and I love that I can relate when staying in hotels now. I get to enjoy that part of the industry in a different way while now exploring the aviation industry. In the end it all really connects.

Whatever it is that has driven you to this industry, just know that there will be good and bad days. It truly is one of the most rewarding industries and there is so much to learn and explore. Times may be rough right now with Covid-19 but we will rise and come back stronger than ever from this. As always, I hope you found this post helpful!

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