The next best thing to going on vacation may be helping others plan and enjoy a getaway. Professionals in the growing field of tourism and hospitality management oversee all the details that make for satisfied clients, whether it's a corporate dinner, a weekend escape or a 10-day cruise to an exotic locale.
Tourism, Hospitality and Hotel Management
Tourism management refers to the activities associated with travel planning. Hospitality management is the administration of activities in a place where people meet, such as a restaurant, casino, convention center, theme park or shopping mall. Hotel management, just as the name says, involves managing operations in a hotel or resort.
Tourism and Hospitality, By the Numbers
Travel and tourism is one of the world's largest industries, comprising more than 9.3 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product. Every year, over a billion tourists visit destinations by air, land and sea. Hotels alone account for over half a trillion dollars worldwide in annual revenue. The industry is very broad, meaning there are plenty of opportunities and specialty fields, both visible and working behind the scenes. In fact, one in eleven jobs in the current world economy are related to tourism and hospitality. Tourism and hospitality includes attractions management, convention planning, customer service, event planning, food service, gaming, lodging, marketing, sales and travel. Working in tourism and hospitality management could land you a job almost anywhere in the world. Hotels, airlines, restaurants, transportation companies, tourist services, convention centers, casinos, sports teams, ravel agencies and activity providers are all part of a dynamic industry that continually needs skilled employees.
Although you can certainly find a job in tourism and hospitality without a degree, advancement into management almost always requires at least a bachelor's degree. The good news for those considering college programs is that there are a number of online hospitality schools, as well as those that offer majors on a college campus. At Cornell University, considered to be the top school for hotel administration, it's possible to earn a bachelor's, a master's and even a Ph.D., although the doctorate is research-focused rather than customer-focused. Degrees and areas of focus vary among all public and private institutions that offer majors in the hospitality and tourism field. Because the field is broad, do your research to find a program that matches your talents and interests.
For a bachelor's degree, typically, you'll take foundational courses that will teach you the fundamentals of hospitality, tourism and food service management. You'll take courses in mathematics, economics, psychology and communications. In the third and fourth years of your undergraduate work, you'll undertake management studies in greater depth, in which you may have an opportunity for one or more internships, where you can gain real-world experience that may help you land a job after you graduate.
At the master's degree level, you'll delve deeper into the business side of the hospitality and tourism industry, choosing a focus area and honing your skills in problem-solving, data analysis, marketing, management and leadership.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks data and makes projections for civilian jobs across all industries. As of mid-2017, the hospitality and leisure industries had the highest rate of job openings and hires among occupations, outpacing professional and business services. Average starting salary with a bachelor's degree in hospitality management is $49,000 a year. The average salary with a master's degree is $55,000 per year. Salaries can range much higher, depending on employer and geographic location, as well as the employee's education, experience and special skills.
Salary is only part of what lures job seekers to the hospitality and tourism industry. Commissions and bonuses, not to mention perks such as food, event tickets and travel, make for a rewarding work environment.