First Person: The Downsides to a Career in Hospitality Management

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Getting a degree or job in hospitality management can have you working in a dynamic industry with plenty of potential for career advancement. Having working within the industry for over a decade, I can vouch for there being a variety of upsides to a career in hospitality management, but there can be a few downsides too. Sure, it's possible to find bright sides to some of the worst jobs out there, and sometimes an employee can even be able to use some of the possible downsides in hospitality management to their advantage, helping them to succeed within the industry. It's important though to go into the field knowing as much about both its positives and negatives as possible before committing head-on to a role within it.

The hours

If you end up working in a hotel, you may quickly realize that your workplace never closes. And even winding up in a restaurant, club or similar work environment could result in hours that reach into the late hours of the night or early morning.

You might end up in an area of hospitality management like human resources, accounting, or sales in which the hours are more standard. However, even in such departments, you could occasionally be called upon to work various shifts or even weekends. Otherwise, if you work in housekeeping, operations, front office, catering, banquets, or a similar department as I did when I entered the industry, weekends and odd hours can become the norm. To those without families or who don't have other responsibilities, this might not be a big deal, but for those who do, it could be an area of consideration before making a move into such a role.

The "Jack of all trades" mentality

Depending upon the hospitality organization for which you work, you might find that you're sometimes called upon to perform a variety of roles for which you might not have been hired directly. A human resources manager for example might find himself or herself checking in or checking out hotels guests on a busy day. A front office manager might find himself or herself being recruited to help out in the laundry when it's getting slammed. An accountant or sale manager could be assisting in other roles as well on busier days or should employees in another department be lacking.

While some might see this as a disadvantage of the work, I tried to look at such situations positively. Building such flexibility helped me ensure job security and provided on-the-job training that gave me a chance to experience other roles and departments. Showing my willingness to accept such transitions and excel within these roles showed supervisors that I was willing to be a team player and leader, which led to promotions and other advancement opportunities that moved me to department director within just five years.

Pay scale

I used to have a boss who would say, "You'll never get rich working in hotels".

Well, that's not exactly true, but overall, I think the idea he was trying to convey was: "FYI, the pay ain't great".

The compensation in hospitality work can vary greatly based upon the size and scope of the operation, the department in which you work, and the location of the operation (urban, suburban, rural). You could find yourself easily making six figures as a director of finance, director of sales, or general manager of a larger hotel or upscale hotel in an urban environment, or you could find yourself making a significantly lesser salary as the general manager or department head of a smaller hotel in a more rural location. Therefore, it pays to be aware of this possible skewing of pay ranges before settling upon hospitality as your industry of choice.


There can be plenty of opportunity for job swaps and career advancement within the hospitality field. Whether between operations, within the same chain or company, or even just between departments within the same hotel or restaurant, job changes mean that turnover can be high.

While this can be viewed as a positive for the individual employee, as a manager, it can be a downside to the work. Getting employees trained and up to speed can take time and effort. Getting a department staffed and trained only to have to constantly replace employees after getting them settled in can leave the department in a constant state of flux where it seems like you're continually on the lookout for new talent. If you're a manager like me who enjoys consistency in your staff on a long-term basis, this could prove frustrating and add extra work to your plate.

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The author is not a licensed financial, career or educational professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.


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