Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster

Hospitality and Tourism Career Cluster Overview

The hospitality and tourism industry provides accommodations, meals, and personal services for both the traveling public and permanent residents. The range of employment opportunities in the industry is vast. All positions, from bellhops to executive chefs to amusement park workers, share the same goal: serving the public.

Hospitality and Tourism Career ClusterThis cluster includes not only those careers that involve public directly, but the many behind-the-scenes careers in management, janitorial services, and technology that ensure enjoyable experiences for the public. For example, when you stay at a large hotel, the people you probably interact with the most are the front desk clerks, concierges, and baggage porters. However, every hotel requires reservationists who book people’s visits; computer programmers who design the reservation system and maintain the hotel’s computer network; housekeeping staff that keep the hotel clean and see to guests’ individual needs; food service workers who provide meals for the guests and staff; decorators and designers who choose the hotel’s furnishings and overall look; maintenance staff who ensure that the utilities are running smoothly; and managers who oversee the staff and ensure the hotel’s financial success. All of these workers are part of the hospitality and tourism industry, and the main goal of all of these workers is to make guests feel welcome.

The food and beverage industry makes up one of the largest and most lucrative sectors of hospitality and tourism. The businesses that supply food to customers, such as restaurants, coffee shops, fast food chains, food outlets in hotels, catering firms, and a host of other establishments, have specific methods of preparing and serving food. Modern operating methods are becoming essential in today’s food service industry. The most successful restaurant companies have devised systems to maximize labor and cut costs. But despite increased automation, the need remains for personal service to customers and skill and imagination in the kitchen.

 Hospitality and Tourism Career Pathways

The hospitality and tourism cluster is composed of four career pathways: lodging; recreation, amusements, and attractions; restaurant and food/beverage services; and travel and tourism.

Lodging Career Path

Lodging workers are involved in the management and maintenance of hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, or any other business that provides lodging services to guests. Some lodging workers, such as bed and breakfast owners, might do everything from book reservations to prepare meals for guests, while a desk clerk for a large hotel chain might only check guests in and out. All workers in this area share the common goal of making guests’ experience as enjoyable as possible. Examples of jobs in this area include baggage porters and bellhops, hotel concierges, hotel and motel managers, and janitors and cleaners.

Recreation , Amusements, and Attractions Career Path

Workers in this area are employed by the many places people go for entertainment and amusement, such as theme parks, casinos, resort spas, zoos, and historical sites. The work in this field is generally lively and involves close interaction with the public. Recreation workers can operate rides or vehicles, organize events and entertainment for guests, lead organized tours, or help new members of a private club become familiar with its facilities. Good people skills are an absolute must in this area. Examples of jobs include cruise directors, gaming workers, recreation center directors, and ski resort workers.

Restaurant and Food/Beverage Services Career Path

Employment in food service can mean working for as little as one or two clients, as in the case of personal chefs, or planning a menu for a restaurant that serves hundreds of customers on a weekly basis. Regardless of whether they work in a restaurant, bar, cruise ship, or bakery, food service workers must pay close attention to details and be able to think quickly on their feet, as these work environments are among some of the busiest. Examples of jobs in this area include bartenders, caterers, cooks and chefs, and waiters.

Travel and Tourism Career Path

People who work in this pathway promote tourism, help people plan vacations, or plan and organize events that help people make the most of their travel experience. Examples of jobs include cultural advisers, travel agents, event planners, and tour guides.

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Exploring Hospitality and Tourism Careers

Above all, hospitality and tourism are service industries. The success or failure of businesses in this area largely depends on how the employees treat guests and customers. One of the best ways to get a feel for a career in hospitality and tourism is to observe the workers you see when you dine out, stay at a hotel, or visit any type of tourist attraction. Note what kinds of responsibilities these workers have and how they combine the duties of their job with an ability to make guests and customers feel relaxed and welcome. Think about your experiences in restaurants and hotels and try to figure out what may have made one experience better than another. Is there a restaurant that you and your family return to more than any other? Chances are, the quality of the service you receive is high on the list.

It’s also helpful to read travel guides or visit Web sites such as or where people write their own reviews of hotels and restaurants, respectively. This can help you decide what aspect of the industry you might want to work in and what people are looking for when they dine and travel.

The hospitality and tourism cluster offers many job opportunities for high school and college students. Amusement parks, for example, often hire students for the busy summer months. The food service industry also hires students as cashiers, hosts, waiters, and line cooks. These types of jobs are a good way to gain experience in the field. More advanced positions may require a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management, business administration, or a diploma from a culinary school. Having a combination of practical experience and formal education is the key to advancing in this field.

Hospitality and Tourism Careers Outlook

The travel and tourism industry has experienced some ups and downs in the past several years. While the long-term prospects for growth in the hotel industry are good, it should be remembered that the industry is tied directly to the amount of money people can spend on leisure and business activities. Therefore, any downturn in the economy usually has a negative impact on industry growth. Employment for workers in the hospitality industry varies by specialty. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts faster than average growth for hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks and gaming workers and slower than average growth for bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks; secretaries; waiters and waitresses; and lodging managers.

The restaurant industry in general is expected to grow about as fast as the average through 2016. There should be plenty of jobs available for chefs, cooks, and other kitchen workers. Fast food restaurants have been suffering from high turnover and labor shortages, and it is expected that recruiting and retaining employees will be a major challenge in the next few years. Changes in the economy will also have an effect on eating and drinking establishments. When consumers are forced to cut spending, one of the first expenditures they cut is dining out. Anyone involved in the restaurant industry must also consider the strong competition for business and for qualified employees. Restaurants open and close at a rapid pace, and turnover will continue to be high.

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