Skip to main content

Mastering essential hospitality soft skills: Insights from EHL Experts

| Editor |

Although technical skills such as accounting, financial analysis, and marketing are crucial for hospitality & tourism managers, soft skills play a vital role in excelling in this people-centric industry.

These essential soft skills in hospitality encompass more than just engaging with clients; they also involve effectively leading teams dedicated to ensuring customer satisfaction in a labor-intensive industry.

Hotels, restaurants, tour operators and tourist attractions are fascilitators of experiences, and those who work within them have the ability to make or break those experiences for their paying clientelle.

The multi-trillion dollar global hospitality industry requires more than just clean beds, hot meals and ticket sales to thrive at such a level. It calls for a sprinkle of ‘je ne sais quoi’ that is the magic and unseen (by the customer) ingredient cultivated by experienced and talented staff who bring unforgetable experiences together seamlessly.

These are the employees which generate the 5-star reviews, the social media tags and turn hospitality businesses into revenue generating machines.

So what soft skills does a future hospitality and tourism manager need to master?

  1. Customer service skills

It is essential that employees and managers succeed in satisfying and even delighting customers. Excellent customer service skills are all about understanding the customer’s needs and being able to deliver a positive customer service experience.

  1. Networking skills

One of the key skills needed in the hospitality industry is to be able to network effectively. Unlike many other sectors of business, networking in this field is not about job-hopping, but is rather a way to stimulate repeat business from customers.

Building a loyal clientele who are interested in returning to the hotel/restaurant/tour will, in the long run, also enhance one’s career. Of course, it’s also important to be able to demonstrate to employers that customers are returning thanks to the relationship cultivated with them. Learning to use language that employers like to hear, such as ‘client relationship management’ and ‘guest relations’ during job interviews, can enhance one’s chances of being hired.

  1. Communication skills

Exceptional communication skills are highly valued in most industries and the higher up one gets in the hierarchy, the more important effective communication becomes.

In the hospitality and tourism business, each day can involve contact with people of a variety of backgrounds, ages, nationalities, and temperaments.

So, it is important to be able to communicate in a way that represents the business while at the same time speaking to customers in a way that they can understand and relate to.

  1. Flexibility skills

Compared to other professions, hospitality and tourism jobs often demand that employees work odd hours like nights and weekends. It is also necessary to be able to switch rapidly from one task to another as the situation may arise. Flexibility is an essential attribute to succeed in the hospitality and tourism sector.

  1. Organizational skills

Organizational skills are at a premium in the hospitality and tourism trade. Given the need to multi-task and respond to spur-of-the-moment requests, it is necessary to maintain an organizational structure to be able to accomplish daily tasks efficiently.

One piece of advice: plan each day keeping a checklist of things that need to be done. This will also help you develop strong time management skills.

  1. Language skills

Language skills are a particular plus in the hospitality field as they increase one’s value as an employee. Speaking clients’ language enables one to establish a more intimate relationship with them which promotes customer satisfaction and loyalty.

So if you’re considering studying abroad or particpating in a semester abroad as part of your college degree, don’t hesitate to seize the opportunity to learn a new language.

  1. Can-do attitude

Hospitality professionals must be prepared to accept challenges in the workplace no matter how difficult the task may appear. Resolving a difficult situation for an employer boosts one’s chances of getting a pay rise or promotion.

Exuding enthusiasm for one’s job, will enhance one’s esteem both from customers and employers.

No customer should ever hear the words «that’s not my job». For example, Kurt Ritter, the former CEO of Rezidor Hotels (and EHL graduate), adopted the motivational tagline “Yes, I can!” for his staff.

  1. Multitasking skills

Being able to fulfill multiple roles in a hospitality or tourism enterprise is a way for employees to render themselves indispensable to their employers.

It’s important to be able to juggle different tasks simultaneously while completing each task assigned. Thus the ability to multitask may be one of the most important skills in this industry. One way for students to get a head start in developing their ability to multitask is to work on the side while pursuing their studies.

  1. Cultural awareness

Hospitality and tourism enterprises are more likely than most to deal with customers of a variety of nationalities and cultural backgrounds. The ability to be culturally aware and get past one’s own cultural norms is crucial to building a successful career in this sector.

Typically customers will not always share the same values, belief systems and perceptions. It’s important to break free from cultural barriers. Cultural awareness is an essential social skill that will help customers feel comfortable and at home with their surroundings. The goal is to satisfy their needs and wants, so as to turn them into repeat customers.

By Frank Giannotti, Lecturer and International Career Coordinator at EHL Passugg

Stay informed

Stay in the know with the latest luxury hospitality news