As we break into summer, a lot is concentrating our minds at GBN.
10 soft skills you learn when attending a hospitality management school
Have you ever thought of starting a career in hospitality? Are you contemplating going to a hotel school? You will not regret it! There is no other education that could better train you and give you valuable knowledge and skills to live an exciting life and have a great professional career.
For someone who has never worked in another industry, attended another school or studied in another field, it is perhaps not justified to make such a bold statement. And if you know you want to become an engineer, locksmith, java developer or any other specific profession, obviously the best route for you is not a hotel school.
Regardless of where your life is taking you however, here are 10 skills you learn at hotel school that will prove themselves to be invaluable.
- Communication – You will learn painfully quickly that good communication skills are vital for the travel and tourism industry, or anywhere else for that matter. Not only do you need to be able to communicate with all colleagues no matter their seniority, often with diverse backgrounds and/or cultural differences, you also need to be able to communicate with;
- Business guests and leisure guests,
- Experienced travelers and first-time travelers,
- Adults and children,
- Men and women,
- Dogs and dolphins,
- Anyone and everyone.
- Interpersonal skills – Of course, with all this communication, you need to do it exceptionally well with a lot of emotional intelligence. You will need to speak respectfully, with confidence, in a professional manner and build strong relationships. You always need to communicate on a positive note, with appropriate body language, with kindness, and in a timely manner.
- Leadership – This is a highly regarded skill that most hotel schools focus on as they see their mission to develop leaders of the future. You will have plenty of exercises in critical thinking, inspirational presentations and learning from recognized leaders. You will foster a mentality of constant learning and most definitely learn to handle conflicts. Discipline, delegation and active listening skills are taught to you to be a good leader. There will also be plenty of opportunities to plan and organize activities outside of the curriculum and develop leadership skills outside of a professional setting.
- Flexibility – The world is constantly changing, we all know that. Travel trends change and traveler’s behaviors change, thus you need to adapt accordingly. While perhaps the leadership team will modify the way you will work on a strategic level (this will be you one day), they will always look for employees that will embrace change in a workplace. There will also be daily situations that require flexibility such as shift changes, working overtime if needed due to unexpected events, working during holidays or assisting with tasks that are outside of your job descriptions.
- Perseverance – Working in an industry that never sleeps (figuratively speaking obviously, as guests sleep in hotels, at the airport, during flight, etc. You get it!) tests you to your core. Your patience, your persistence and attitude will ultimately show your level of perseverance. The industry is generally very good at setting goals, creating a shared vision and most importantly establishing values. These values will be your guide through hardships (read; difficult guests and seemingly unreachable sales targets). If you work in a place where you identify yourself with the values of an organization, have a positive attitude and work in a good team you will be surprised by the amount of perseverance you develop.
- Problem-solving skills – Whether you work in a five-star luxury resort or a motel, your paying customers have expectations. When things do not turn out the way they expected, naturally they will be unhappy (surely, you have experienced this yourself). Here is where your problem-solving skills will save you. You learn in school and by experience, not only to provide a solution to a problem but provide three or four different solutions for the same problem (in hospitality it is called a challenge). Imagine how interesting and exciting this can be when you work on a remote island, on a cruise ship or during a nightshift when you have limited resources.
- Attention to details – If you didn’t pay attention to details before, you will now. You will learn and experience firsthand that details are all that matters. Guests’ experiences can be met without much effort, to be honest, but master the details and you will forever create wow-moments guests will always remember.
- Creativity – Studying and working with people from every corner of world and from different cultures has tremendous advantages. You share ideas, different angles, and experiences. By learning about new cultures and meeting new people, you develop your mindset and in turn find incredibly creative ways to work, to solve problems and to find innovative ways to do business.
- Innovation – Speaking about being innovative in this evolving world, shifting travel trends and changing habits (as mentioned already, see flexibility) mean you need to be innovative. In a hotel school, you are encouraged; in fact, it is becoming a requirement to always find innovative ways of working. You will take classes like entrepreneurship, business modelling for hotels and sustainability in business development where you will learn the importance of innovation and have the chance to develop your innovative ideas.
- Teamwork – Perhaps the most important (or essential, critical, determining, primary, foremost, principal, major, imperative; you pick the adjective) skill is teamwork! You work in mixed teams with people from every corner of the world, speaking languages you didn’t even know existed and who are born in cultures where things are done completely differently. And you will learn – oh how you will learn – that even though nothing is impossible, working in the hospitality industry without teamwork is indeed impossible.
So, are you convinced to attend a hospitality school yet?
You may or may not possess some of these skills already heading into a hospitality school. Hopefully, you are a person with these natural qualities. You will, however, learn, practise and perfect these skills.
Graduating from a hotel school does not mean you possess these skills by default. You need to work hard, soak up the knowledge and experiences, and take advantage of the opportunities given to you. Perhaps most importantly, respect and trust the industry professionals who are your instructors!
They know what they are talking about!
If you follow the advice above and master these skills, the world, as they say, is your oyster.
Photo: Diana Boldrini