Hospitality, Travel & Tourism

Hospitality, travel, and tourism cover a vast segment of the American economy – and it’s much more than flipping burgers or booking someone else’s holiday cruise!

The hospitality, travel, and tourism industry is a broad group of businesses providing various recreational services to customers.

These can be broken down into five core areas:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Food and Beverage
  3. Travel and Tourism
  4. Air Travel & Transport
  5. Events and exhibitions

Hospitality overall is focused on driving customer satisfaction, with the hope of gaining repeat customers or good reviews to grow business.

Essentially, the industry focuses on ‘experience’ based customer service. This means its core aim is to ensure all customers have an exceptional experience, whether it’s through their hotel room and services, their restaurant experiences, or tourism experiences.

All sectors cater to both domestic and international markets and are significant in driving economic growth in America.

Hospitality, travel, and tourism have been identified as high-growth sectors over the next two decades. While it might not feel like it right now, the industry is anticipated to experience a boom once the current pandemic settles down.

The sector covers everything from cleaning to receptionist work, waiters to chefs, engineers to expert tour guides – and the vast array of roles available are always on the up!

Demands in the sector around things like Airbnb are also opening up new career pathways, such as property portfolio managers, marketing, and public relations.

If you enjoy meeting new people and trying new things, you’ll be amazed at the career choices available to you in this fast-paced and exciting sector.

Countries want to be known as tourism destinations and have a reputation for providing an exceptional experience for guests. Staff are crucial for achieving this, so your skills in hospitality or tourism could see you finding work anywhere in the world!

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to start with a retail and customer service career.

What You Could Do

Job roles in the industry are varied, and there are also many opportunities to grow a career through entry-level positions.

Five broad areas within the sector make up the majority of roles and pathways you could pursue.

These are:

  • Tourism Management: Tourism is the short-term movement of people to destinations outside the places they usually live and work. Tourism management focuses on providing positive and successful experiences for travelers and the businesses that cater to them.
  • Job roles you could pursue: Tourism Operator, Tour Guide, Customer Service Advisor, Marketing Assistant, Promotions Assistant, Visitor Information Assistant.
  • Hotel Management: Hotel Management involves various skills like management, marketing, human resource development, financial management, and interpersonal skills. Hotels are a major employer in the industry. Hotel Management ensures that all operations run smoothly, including accommodation, food, drink, and other hotel services.
  • Job roles you could pursue: Receptionist, Concierge, Hotel Manager, Bookings Assistant, Cleaner, Cleaning Manager, Housekeeping, Guest Services Coordinator, Facilities Manager, Facilities Assistant.
  • Restaurant Management: This covers the smooth running of any establishment that serves food and beverages. From small cafes to fine dining, there’s a lot to take into consideration. From stock checks and ordering, food preparation, customer service and waitressing, and cleaning and facilities management. Restaurant management is fast-paced and also needs to follow strict health and hygiene guidelines set by local governments. Some places will also need to secure appropriate licenses for the serving of alcohol.
  • Job roles you could pursue: Restaurant Manager, Waiter/Waitress, Maitre’D, Chef, Sous Chef, Kitchen Assistant, Cleaner, Barista, Pastry Chef, Bookings Manager.
  • Resort Management: Resort management includes hospitality administration, hotel/motel management, restaurant and food services management, facilities planning, leisure studies, recreation administration, marketing, and grounds operations and maintenance.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface!

Each industry segment will also include administrative and other support functions, including marketing, communications, human resources, and accounting.

Graduate Employment and Gender Split

A degree isn’t essential for every career pathway in the industry. However, for some senior roles, such as hotel management or resort management, a degree can equip you with the in-depth knowledge to set you up for success in your role. Coupled with the right experience, a degree is a strong pathway into your chosen sector.

Knowing what graduate employment looks like can help set your expectations and make further decisions.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

Here’s a look at recent outcomes data for graduates in 2019:

  • Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Graduates in full-time employment: 41.5%
  • Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Graduates in continuing education: 30.5%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time; these are promising percentages!

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within.

Generally, there is a higher percentage of females working across the industry:

  • Males: 70%
  • Females: 30%

In some more specialist areas, such as Chef work, there is a higher percentage of males:

  • Males: 80%
  • Females: 20%

In many executive management positions, there is also a higher percentage of men:

  • Males: 80%
  • Females: 20%

Awareness of the imbalance in management and senior roles is helping to slowly change this across the industry.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Entry-level Hospitality Roles: $25,600-$34,900
  • Experienced Hospitality Roles: $39,800-$58,000
  • Hotel Manager Roles: $52,00-$57,500
  • Restaurant Manager Roles: $49,300-$58,000
  • Entry-level Tourism Roles: $48,400-$64,000
  • Resort Manager Roles: $52,600-$69,400

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles.

Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Location, some rural areas may pay less than roles in main cities.

Industry Growth

The U.S. hospitality, travel, and tourism industry generated over $1.6 trillion in economic output, supporting 7.8 million jobs nationally.

According to Department of Commerce projections, the United States will welcome 95.5 million international visitors annually by 2023 (nearly twice the amount in 2000). The United States leads the world in international travel and tourism and ranks third in favored tourism destinations.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employment growth in the hospitality and tourism sectors was expected to overtake other large employment sectors, such as transport, postal warehousing, and mining. Dueto lockdown measures and travel bans, the industry has been one of the hardest hit during this time.

While it might feel unstable right now, It’s anticipated that disruption to the industry will be short-term. There will be a strong demand for all roles as people return to travel and seek out hospitality experiences in the coming years.

Key areas of growth, especially for jobs, include the following:

  • Accommodation: This subsector accounts for almost a fifth of travel and tourism-related spending and supports nearly 2.1 million jobs.
  • Air Travel: This subsector is the second-largest, accounting for nearly 17% of travel and tourism-related spending. It supports almost 900,000 jobs.
  • Food Services: This subsector is the third largest and accounts for nearly 16% of travel and tourism-related spending, supporting almost 2.1 million jobs.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of role you want to get into.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers prefer industry managers to have some college education.

Some degree majors you could pursue include:

  • BA in Hospitality Management
  • BSBA Hospitality Management
  • Bachelor in Resort Recreation and Hospitality Management
  • Bachelor of Science Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management
  • Bachelor of Science in Global Hospitality and Tourism
  • Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration

You can also pursue many roles in the sector through:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship: You can start an apprenticeship and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
  • Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many of these organisations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications.

Some roles, especially those in culinary professions such as chefs, will require qualifications and attendance at specialist colleges where you’ll gain exposure to practical skills and work experience alongside formal studies.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades, or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some universities are rated higher than others for specific subjects.

Here are the top-rated universities for Hospitality and Tourism:

  • University of Nevada
  • Cornell University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Central Florida
  • New York University
  • Michigan State University


Where to Learn More

You can learn more about different career pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations to help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.