For those who have long worked in the hospitality industry, you will know there are endless complaints to make. My God, will you meet plenty of people who have the same woes, the same tales to tell, the same issues with similar things, regardless of the environment they are in.
So, Lets talk about:
The extreme hours at the drop of a hat, meaning AFD really does mean ALL fucking day; the incredibly poor wages you are ever so grateful to receive; the sore feet from your 45000 steps today; The frankly arsehole customers that demand silver cloud service, for fiat panda price; the horrible bosses that always think they know best, when honestly, they have less of a clue than the last half wit the company employed to spin in that chair; the way that no matter what you do to prevent it you still come home smelling like a sweaty greasy burger served in a dirty ashtray.... yes lets acknowledge all those things shall we... !?
Yet as all those people lucky enough to work in this amazing industry also know, it isn’t all bad. In fact, the majority of the time it is really a lot of fun. With the right understanding and the right ideas about what you want within the broad and ever-expanding hospitality sector, it could well turn out to be your best career move... ever.
So, to add that element of perspective, here’s why hospitality working is great.
The social life
It is so incredibly social. You are after all in a position of hosting. Every shift, You get to talk to people all the time, you are constantly interacting with other humans. Then - Not only do you get to meet people all the time, but you find out some really cool stuff along the way. Society is knowledge - when was the last time one of your mates from outside the trade, came home and told you a genuinely interesting story about somebody they had met at work ? Its amazing how close you can feel to your guest - especially when you are the one providing the food and drink to his or her friends... its also amazing how many friends you have outside the trade, once they realise that there may be a chance of a back door to event tickets for example.
Over time, hospitality work becomes like a bad habit. Through one or maybe many venues, you continue to learn skills that you then have for life. What other industry gives you the opportunity to be treated like pond life, but the experience and training to smile and rise above it. Over time, my own career has taken me from high street retailing, to theme parks, to hotels, to late night entertainment bars, to pubs, to workplace catering, to stadiums and arenas... one thing I have learnt is that be it the guest (end user) or the client - they are not always right... however, it is important that they feel like they are never wrong. My career has placed me in the fortunate position of meeting some famous, some very famous and some not so famous people, and for sure, I will say, the hospitality experience i have, has given me skills to deal with any situation, whatever the circumstance - swagger, confidence, stamina, and a structured decision making thought process to ensure that employers know exactly what they are going to get, and the end user gets the best experience possible.
Hospitality exists everywhere in the world, and is a fantastic way to travel around the globe. You can get Visas in many countries and easily gain hospitality experience abroad and further your network and skills. It is a great way to meet people and support yourself while having new experiences. Many of the greatest hospitality companies such as Compass Group (the largest international catering company in the World) operate globally... meaning opportunity like you would never imagine. Life has taken me to all parts of the UK, as well as a couple of times overseas - places I would never have imagined visiting if not for work. I remember in my early retail career, hosting a book launch in Coventry and Derby, with Geoff Thompson, a prolific biographer and author and now life coach - who said to me "Martin, roots are for trees, not people". For years I have embraced the opportunity to work in different places, From Aberdeen in mid winter (why would you), to St. Hellier, Jersey in mid Summer (why wouldn't you), from the back streets of Aberystwyth to the beach fronts of Norfolk, from the pavements of Chicago to downtown Corby... this Yorkshire lad started his career journey out of Rotherham - its no surprise I wanted to travel a bit really 😂 However, now this makes me a very popular pub quiz team member for my knowledge of UK geography and roads...
If you are new to a place, travelling, or starting work in a venue where you don’t know anybody, it is a GREAT place to make friends. Hospitality workers have to be friendly, it’s their job! So you’ve come to the right place. You may make friendships for life.... you will also meet some right dick heads (law of averages I am afraid). You will find out from colleagues pretty quickly who the twats are, but on the off chance you don't find this out... then I'm afraid the twat is you, and you may need to re-evaluate your approach 😉
Hospitality is flexible when it comes to working around the other parts of your life. Have to study during the day? Work nights. Have to look after your kids at night? Work during the day. Tailor it to suit yourself, it is possible. No other industry is that flexible.
Wages can be good... or should we say Wages aren't that bad...
It is a sad fact that in some places hospitality wages are poorer than most... Who are we kidding, hospitality wages are the shittest right ? However given the right establishment, venues that are above board and paying through PAYE - they should actually be offering a relatively decent wage for your services. This does depend where you work in the country and in what role of course... a word of warning though, the wage structure is wide and varied - find your lane, and know your worth - and never be apologetic for following your dreams and achieving your earning potential... there is plenty of opportunity for the right people.
Of course it is not not just about money, it is also about how you are treated, and it is about the environment created - I have worked with some belters, and also some dogs, I would always return to help the former if needed, once bitten, the latter has seen the last of me. There is probably another blog on companies I have worked with... when I have retired maybe 🤔 Trust me though, for me its a simple rule.... you go for interview, and any company that feels the need to tell you how great they treat their people, treat them with scepticism, as generally they really don't. Any boss that feels the need to explain to you that they are a straight talker - well they are generally a bully and an arsehole... so do your research. Find a place that is going to treat you and their team fairly, and work hard for each other. Great companies don't need to sell themselves cheap. Cheap companies need to sell themselves greatly.
Unleash your creativity
There are opportunities to be creative within hospitality. Do you want to be a chef ? Maybe a food service assistant ? Maybe a bar person, a barista, a toilet attendant, a cleaner, a housekeeper, or a manager... whether or not you prefer cooking, or coffee making, or beer brewing. Perhaps you love to create cocktails, perhaps you just enjoy creating memories for your guests... Have a go. There will always be opportunities to be involved. No other industry us as diverse or welcoming of talent from bottom to top.
Hospitality is one of the few industries in the world that will pretty much always exist. It has been around hundreds of years, even the Kings and Queens of Tudor times needed their food preparing and serving, employed court jesters and maids... The hospitality sector has remained relatively stable despite the tough economic times*, so from that perspective, it can be a pretty safe career choice. I spoke about life skills gained in hospitality ? Using those skills, you are a multi functional and diverse employee, you can work anywhere in the World.
* the hospitality sector is one of the most stable employers in the World... that is until a Worldwide, life changing, deadly virus comes along and fucks shit up for everybody... up until that point though, this is accurate.... and will return to being accurate.
There are lots of fun opportunities in hospitality. Whether you get the chance to work at a food festival, or perhaps an event or a music festival, there are chances to step outside of your regular surroundings and do something different. Not to mention you get to try food and drinks all the time! If you like the circuit lifestyle, then you cannot go wrong with Levy (UK) - a subsidiary brand within Compass, that cater at stadiums, sports arenas and events across the globe. I know plenty of great people that make a wonderful living from 'the circuit'.
If you are just starting out in your career, the diversity of jobs available in hospitality can allow you to experiment until you find a pathway that suits you best. This characteristic is unheard of in many other professions.
If you have never worked any kind of a service environment before, you probably don’t know how much fun it can be. Depending on the venue of course… but you are often working alongside friends, and you are basically the most popular person at a party, standing right at the front! Be careful you don’t have too much fun though … work smart: the right thing, the right time - challenge the norm, if the norm isnt good enough. Enjoy the guest company: they want you to make them feel like they are the only important guest to you, and they will tip for that experience... one word of warning though - discretion - theres nothing worse for a boss than a smooth talking lothario, spending too much time trying to get into the knickers of anything with a pulse - rather than taking their money... quickly.
The hospitality industry has a history that spans thousands of years. Even in ancient times, there were inns and private residences, all needing the services of great hospitality staff... if you ever get the opportunity to experience Pompeii and Herculaneum, its incredible. Poignant in the reality of what happened there in the end, but if you went with a mind to overlay part of the history of hospitality, you wouldnt be disappointed... now obviously, The industry has grown by leaps and bounds since then and it shows no signs of slowing down - but I bet you, if you had asked the young Roman man selling bread and cheese, from his food stall at Pompeii chariot racing, or the older Roman housekeeper looking after the latest emporer - I bet if you could go back and ask them what they thought of their hospitality job then, we wouldn't be far wrong in our assessment here and now.
For me, working in hospitality is more than great, working in hospitality is quiye simply the best job I have ever had.... So come in to our World, you are more than welcome!