It’s thought that a job is added every 2.5 seconds in the hospitality industry. You may also not be aware of the fact that the vast majority of workers in the industry work part time, or that 86% of them are paid by the hour, rather than an annual wage.
If you’ve worked in the industry for any length of time, you’ll know that it remains one of the most resilient in the face of economic disaster and represents an incredibly rewarding career path.
However, when you’re a guest, there’s so much you don’t see. The seemingly endless shifts worked in succession, the constant fear of negative online reviews and the tiny details which require significant effort, but which are so easily missed by guests are just some examples.
So, with that in mind, let’s peel back the curtain on this wonderful industry and reveal 15 things that only hospitality staff will understand.
1. Guests aren’t always right
In truth, this happens in most industries, but it seems to be particularly prevalent in hospitality.
Guests are more than entitled to have a moan if there has been a dip in service. But, sometimes, it really isn’t justified and, sometimes, it can get downright nasty. But whatever the problem is, if you’re on front of house, it’s your fault. Always.
2. Night shifts never get any easier
If you’ve got a friend who works nights and who regularly says “I’ve totally got used to it” when you quiz them on how on earth it’s possible, they’re probably stretching the truth a little.
If you stay at a hotel, you’re likely to see the same person on the reception desk both when you head to bed and make your way downstairs in the morning. Night shifts and back-to-back shifts are and always will be incredibly taxing mentally and physically.
3. When the internet breaks, it’s the end of the world
You’ve probably experienced it yourself; while sat in your hotel room, the internet suddenly disappears. Or while taking a seat at your table for dinner, you’re informed that the WiFi is currently down.
As far as guests are concerned, this really is the end of the world, and they’ll always make sure the staff know how inconvenient the lack of digital connectivity is.
4. Unexpectedly poor TripAdvisor reviews
What gives? When the guest was departing and you asked if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review, they smiled, said how wonderful the stay had been and promised they’d do just that.
Only, the next morning, the review arrived, and it complained relentlessly about the shoddy breakfast. Why didn’t they tell you in person? With hospitality staff often rewarded for review performance, this is a real pain in the you-know-what.
5. You’re always on call - like it or not
It’s often said that a career in the hospitality industry is a lifestyle choice, and that couldn’t be truer.
This manifests itself most regularly in the form of completely unexpected 24/7 calls when you’re not actually on call. Often, from your boss.
6. Being told to “enjoy your weekend” is sometimes pretty frustrating
It’s not the guest’s fault, but when they tell you to “enjoy your weekend” during a Friday departure, you’re forgiven for mentally smiling through gritted teeth.
You see, what the guest doesn’t know is that you’ve just started a four-day, double shift pattern weekend. Ouch.
7. Negative reviews genuinely hurt
Some of the negative reviews that hit TripAdvisor are absolute gold dust, but, often, they do hit hospitality employees right between the eyes.
If this industry is known for one thing, it’s the passion and dedication demonstrated by those who work within it. To them, the hotel or restaurant is much more than a place of work, which is why most negative reviews do cut deep.
8. Guests will sometimes expect the impossible
“But… I need a room for tonight!” “How can you not have a single table free next Saturday?”
Sometimes, guests just don’t get it. You have zero availability. You can’t fashion a hotel room out of thin air and you certainly can’t boot anyone off their pre-booked table tonight. But you’re wrong, of course.
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9. Overbooking happens, and it is always horrible
Ask any hotelier or restaurateur what their biggest fear is, and they’ll almost definitely say “overbooking”.
Thanks to the latest booking software and channel management platforms, overbooking is far less of an occurrence than it once was, but it does still happen. And when it does, that ‘heart sinking into the pit of your stomach’ feeling is about as strong as it gets.
10. You are keeping the bar staff up
It’s common for hotel bars to remain open well after last orders to satisfy wedding parties and boozy business ‘meetings’. And, when someone asks the bar staff, “sorry, are we keeping you up?” the answer is usually a white lie.
“Oh no, we’re good,” they’ll say. What they actually mean is, “yes, you really are; this has now gone beyond a 12-hour shift and I’m so tired.”
11. Working at Christmas is rarely fun
A bit like those who work in the public sector and other all-year-round operations, working at a hospitality business during Christmas isn’t particularly fun.
Sure, there’s definitely a festive feeling about the place, and the guests are all in a lovely mood, but having to wish your nearest and dearest Merry Christmas over the phone is pretty heart-breaking (no matter how many times you’ve done it previously).
12. There is such a thing as a request you can’t fulfil
Lots of hospitality venues will proudly claim that they can meet any request - no matter how unusual.
This isn’t true. If the guest wants transportation via elephant to their favourite local restaurant in Central Birmingham, that ain’t gonna happen. An extreme example, yes, but it’s not far off some of the requests hotel and restaurant staff receive from guests.
13. A surprise half day is a wonderful feeling
We’ve already established that the hours worked in hospitality are usually longer than advertised, and that’s why, when you discover that you’ve got a cheeky half-day next Thursday on the rota, the feeling is always one of utter joy.
14. Nice guest comments can make a tough day an amazing day
Working in hospitality is hard. You’ll regularly experience days that test your patience and, sometimes, drive you towards pretty overwhelming emotions.
Then, you receive a lovely comment from a guest. It may only be a, “thank you”, but it means more than they could ever imagine and puts a smile on your face for the rest of the day.
15. It’s something you wouldn’t give up for the world
Get yourself into the hospitality industry, and it’s near impossible to escape from its grasp.
But that’s fine, because you won’t want to. It’ll get under your skin and, no matter what level at which you enter the industry, you’ll quickly begin dreaming about running your own hotel or restaurant. It’s addictive and so inspiring.
There’s a lot more going on than you thought, right? And we should point out that for all of the seemingly negative aspects above, they’re actually what makes hospitality such a brilliant industry in which to work.
It’s certainly one of the most unique, and no two days are the same, which, for some people, represents the best possible type of career. If you’re a restaurateur or hotel owner who has built a brilliant team, check out our guide below to ensure you keep hold of them.