The Hospitality Industry is an umbrella term for a collection of business sectors that have a lot in common and that work closely together.
I will share with you my view of the industry brake down. You will be able to see the scope and complexity of it, as well as image all potential career paths in the hospitality industry.
What is the hospitality industry?
A group of businesses have been roofed under the umbrella of hospitality because of the services and experiences they provide to the same group of people.
Most will tell you there are 3 or 4 or 5 sectors in the hospitality industry, and they will bundle up huge industries into one headline. I think they are wrong and are doing the industry a huge disservice.
The hospitality industry is big and complex, and could not be described in just 3 or 5 headlines. It covers the full guest journey of a traveller and then some.
The 11 sectors of the hospitality industry:
The Accommodation sector includes everything from local small B&Bs, to hotels and hostels, and house share like Airbnb and Couchsurf. In its essence, this sector is about providing you with a room and a bed to sleep in.
Depending on your needs, budget, and destination you will have a choice of different accommodation types in most destinations.
2. Food & Beverage
Food & beverage sector includes restaurants, bars, cafes and any other food markets where people gather to socialise, eat, and drink. As consumer’s demands change, more pop up restaurants and innovative concepts pop-up to keep us entertained.
3. Travel & Transportation
Often you see Travel and Tourism combined into one sector, but I think that’s wrong. I think they are two separate business sectors.
Nowadays the means of travel to a destination is becoming an increasingly more important element to the individual traveller. You no longer take any available transport, you pick one that suits you best.
Whether you travel by air, rail, car or bus is not only dependent on the destination you are going to, but also who you are as a person and what your personal travel needs and wants are.
Tourism is a very big term and is often used in conjunction with hospitality. Many study degrees in the field are called Hospitality and Tourism Management - like my own.
The tourism sector is the tourism offices, destination management companies (like Visit London and Visit New York), and many tour operators that allow you to explore the destination in different ways.
Imagine arriving in a new country without being able to access a free city map or a list of local bus tours? The tourism sector manages all of that and monitors the effects of tourism flows and trends.
5. Meetings and Events
This industry is often called MICE, which is short for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions. This involves all gatherings of people whether it is a small private event or a huge international congress at the largest expo on the continent.
However, I believe that one group of these meetings has carved itself a notable mention - that is Weddings. The world of weddings is huge and very profitable.
Attractions are the landmarks and museums that are often a must-see in the destination, such as the Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong.
It also includes theme parks like Disney Land and other experiential attractions, like standing on the edge of the Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Entertainment sector includes activities that you attend such as festivals, concerts, cinema, and clubs.
This is not only about entertainment that requires an 18+ identification. Entertainment for a younger audience is closely intertwined with Attractions, many attractions host entertainment activities.
Recreation is closely related to entertainment but is not the same. Recreation is about the things you do (or don’t do) rather than activities that you attend.
Recreation includes a spa, wellness, fitness and other things you would like to do to keep yourself healthy and happy (or not do, like all the things you wouldn’t do when you’re on a beach holiday).
Yes, technology has become its own sector in the hospitality industry. Previously simply a range of suppliers that provide hotels with tools to manage their bookings, now a flourishing tech business sector.
Technology in hospitality presents itself not only the operating system that the hotel uses to manage their room bookings, but also in creating a more seamless guest experience.
Image a digital check in on your phone via the hotel’s app before you arrive, a chat with a concierge colleague you can ask for recommendations while you get ready to leave, and late-night snack order to your room via the same app.
Another side of technology in hospitality involves the third parties, their aggressive marketing and public reviews. What would we do without review sites these days?
There are many other ways technology is being incorporated in hospitality, but most are early days.
Two other sectors that I often find are only being casually mentioned that deserve their own bulletins are next.
Most people would categorise cruise lines into the entertainment sector, but I think it is worthy of its own category. Why? Because it is so damn large!
A cruise ship on its own is a hotel, a restaurant, a tour operator, it hosts entertainment, it has various recreational activities such as a spa, a gym, a cinema, and a night club. A cruise line is the whole of the hospitality industry on one boat.
The final category is the casinos. In many places in the world, gambling is highly regulated and people specifically have to travel to destinations that allow it, such as Las Vegas and Macao.
These casinos are not built self-standing, they are usually a part of a hotel. The hotels are often built to maintain the casinos because casinos make money.
I think that we, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and everyone else in this wonderful and amazing industry, need to give it more credit. Hospitality has developed from a “hotel industry” and “tour operations” into an industry that is recognised for its complexity and diversity of services provided.
I would love to know what you think about my take on the sectors of the hospitality industry. Do you agree with me that there are 11 sectors?
Do you see yourself moving from where you are now into another sector? Let me know!