Guide to Hospitality and Hotel Management Degrees
Learn How You Can Study Hospitality Management
Hospitality management degree programs are available at every level, including associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, plus MBAs and doctorates. You can study hospitality management online, offline, or in a hybrid program that combines elements of both modes.
Brick-and-mortar hospitality management programs
Pursuing a brick-and-mortar degree in hospitality management at the undergraduate level is a good choice for many reasons. In hospitality management, as in many business fields, networking is important. Offline training programs in hospitality management provide networking opportunities that cannot be duplicated in online classes, and allow students to interact with one another and build professional connections that will help them find jobs and career opportunities long after they have completed their degree.
Another key advantage of studying at traditional hospitality management colleges is the ease with which you can pursue internships. These schools often have a stronger internship structure, as it is easier for them to maintain good relationships with local businesses and professional organizations due to the concentration of students in a specific geographic area. Internships are a good way of building experience in hotel management and other hospitality fields, and they provide a way to start a career with experience already under your belt.
The final advantage of an offline program in hospitality and tourism management is the ease with which group work is conducted. While this is true of all offline programs, it is particularly important in business, as companies are usually cooperative endeavors. While group work can be conducted in online programs as well, in-person communication is usually most efficient.
Online hospitality management programs
Though the networking opportunities and group work offered as part of the on-campus experience in an undergraduate hospitality management degree program make it a good choice, a graduate degree is a solid choice for online study. By getting your undergraduate degree offline and your graduate degree online, you can have the networking opportunities and internship connections to start your career, but gain the flexibility of online learning for your graduate degree.
Online programs typically cover the same content as campus classes. An online MBA or MS will cover a standard set of core business competencies in fields like leadership, marketing, management, and finance before moving on to dedicated hospitality management courses.
Determine if Hospitality Management is for You
Students interested in hospitality management should have a strong interest in leadership, customer service, and other “people skills.” Most of the work carried out in this field involves talking to customers and tourists to coordinate travel plans and handle issues with their hospitality experience or managing employees as they perform their duties, so having the ability to interact with people in a calm, courteous manner is essential for a hospitality management student.
Another key skill is resource management, which includes the handling and allocation of time, money, and human resources. Hotel management personnel are often accountable for finances and hotel event planning, and must be capable of keeping track of event timetables as well as the hotel’s cash flow. Likewise, the managers of hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality organizations must be capable of allocating personnel to where they are most needed, and ensuring that all necessary tasks are completed.
The final major skill required for a hospitality management student is a talent for clear communication, which is necessary to put the other skills into practical use. Hospitality management personnel must be able to clearly communicate information to both customers and employees, and to understand communications from these and other individuals, including corporate management and vendors. Hospitality professionals must be able to communicate effectively in writing as well, since more and more of the communication necessary for success is carried out through e-mail and other electronic formats.
Students who are introverted or have poor communication skills are likely to have a more difficult time with any business program, including hospitality management. As noted, many of the daily functions in this field involve communicating with others and coordinating their activities, and those who are leery of talking to others will likely have a difficult time performing these duties. Much of the job hunt in the hospitality management field is also about connections and networking, which poor communicators may also struggle with. This is not insurmountable, but will make a career in the field more difficult to pursue.
See What Hospitality Management Colleges Teach You
Students in hospitality management programs take an array of classes in many different departments, and the skills necessary to succeed in the field are just as diverse. One of the core competencies necessary for all of these classes is management. Group work is common in hospitality management courses, so students who work well with others will likely find success.
In some of the courses required for hospitality management degrees, students will have to spend a great deal of time learning how to perform accounting calculations, resource budget management, and recordkeeping. As a result, mathematical competency is essential for students in the field, though they do not need the same degree of mathematical skills as dedicated math majors. Those who intend to continue on with an MS or MBA in hospitality management should pay special attention to the math components of the program, and should also consider additional math electives to prepare for statistical analysis and other classes they will encounter during their graduate degree programs.
Another common thread among classes in hospitality management is communication. Multiple courses will be dedicated to communication, whether through the lens of marketing, management, or interpersonal communication. You will learn how to effectively create and understand messages, whether it is to effectively market your establishment to the public or to reliably manage your employees. Expect to spend a great deal of time working on your writing and speaking skills.
Know what classes to expect
Hospitality courses vary significantly from school to school, with some focusing more on skills like restaurant management and food science, and others on management skills like finance and marketing. Common courses include:
Food Service Theory and Practice
Business and Hospitality Law
Most hospitality management programs have practicum and internship requirements. Students in these programs will have diverse practicums and internships, ranging from cooking practicums carried out through top hotels and restaurants to internships with a variety of organizations. These internships help students practice and internalize the skills they learn in their hospitality management courses, and are essential to developing hands-on experience that will help in the job market. Having this experience will also help develop your résumé and give you references that can back up your skills to future employers.
Consider your specialization
Despite its status as a specialization within business, there are areas within hospitality management in which you can specialize. Common specializations include restaurant management, gaming management, hotel management, tourism, and private club management. These specializations provide you with an advantage over more general business or hospitality management majors when applying to jobs within these fields. For example, a casino is more likely to hire a student who has pursued dedicated gaming management studies than a student with a more general hospitality degree.
Assess Your Hospitality Management Degree Options
Hospitality management degree programs are offered at the following levels:
Learn What Hospitality Management Graduates Do
Hospitality management personnel perform a variety of functions, depending on their specific interests and specializations. The common thread among these jobs is the management of personnel toward an enjoyable experience for a consumer. Hospitality managers also use their business, accounting, and management skills to ensure that their businesses remain capable of providing these experiences. They make sure people are having a good time on their vacations, their food is cooked to perfection, and their events all run smoothly and enjoyably.
Some hospitality management fields are growing more quickly than others, and some, like food service management, are in a slight decline according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, the field’s diversity makes it very viable to pursue a career in almost any area of hospitality management, especially taking into account geographic differences in opportunities. There are more opportunities to operate a ski resort in Colorado, for example, whereas top-class restaurants might be a more viable field in New York. Hospitality management salaries also vary significantly, with some professions making as little as $20,000 per year on average and others making more than $45,000.
Lodging managers, concierges, and other hotel personnel focus their efforts on hotels and resorts, making sure that guests are happy and enjoying their vacations. They handle disputes and other issues with guests, and ensure that employees are attending to their needs as needed. These hospitality management professionals also handle the booking of rooms, especially for large groups. Hotel management is a stable field, growing at a steady rate.
Food service personnel
Food service managers and supervisors of food service workers oversee the daily operation of businesses that deal in food, like restaurants, cafeterias, and kitchens. They standardize menus, maintain accurate financial documents and records, and make sure the organization adheres to all necessary safety and health codes. Food service professionals help make sure that customers eat well and have a good time while doing so.
Other hospitality management professionals
Other hospitality management professionals include gaming operators, tour guides, and event planners. These professionals have diverse duties, but generally focus on shorter-term events like tours and conventions rather than the long-term management of a hotel, restaurant, casino, or other facility. These positions are not strictly seasonal, but tend to vary more over time, as people may be more interested in vacationing in a certain area or hosting events in a particular region at specific times of year.