Hotels and Other Accommodations
People travel for a variety of reasons, including for vacations, business, and visits to friends and relatives. For many of these travelers, hotels and other accommodations will be where they stay while out of town. For others, hotels may be more than just a place to stay, but destinations in themselves. Resort hotels and casino hotels, for example, offer a variety of activities to keep travelers and families occupied for much of their stay.
Goods and services. Hotels and other accommodations are as different as the many family and business travelers they accommodate. The industry includes all types of lodging, from luxurious 5-star hotels to youth hostels and RV parks. While many provide simply a place to spend the night, others cater to longer stays by providing food service, recreational activities, and meeting rooms. In 2006, approximately 62,000 establishments provided overnight accommodations to suit many different needs and budgets.
Hotels and motels comprise the majority of establishments in this industry and are generally classified as offering either full-service or limited service. Full-service properties offer a variety of services for their guests, but they almost always include at least one or more restaurant and beverage service optionsfrom coffee bars and lunch counters to cocktail lounges and formal restaurants. They also usually provide room service. Larger full-service properties usually have a variety of retail shops on the premises, such as gift boutiques, newsstands, and drug and cosmetics counters, some of which may be geared to an exclusive clientele. Additionally, a number of full-service hotels offer guests access to laundry and valet services, swimming pools, beauty salons, and fitness centers or health spas. A small, but growing, number of luxury hotel chains also manage condominium units in combination with their transient rooms, providing both hotel guests and condominium owners with access to the same services and amenities.
The largest hotels often have banquet rooms, exhibit halls, and spacious ballrooms to accommodate conventions, business meetings, wedding receptions, and other social gatherings. Conventions and business meetings are major sources of revenue for these properties. Some commercial hotels are known as conference hotelsfully self-contained entities specifically designed for large-scale meetings. They provide physical fitness and recreational facilities for meeting attendees, in addition to state-of-the-art audiovisual and technical equipment, a business center, and banquet services.
Limited-service hotels are free-standing properties that do not have on-site restaurants or most other amenities that must be provided by a staff other than the front desk or housekeeping. They usually offer continental breakfasts, vending machines or small packaged items, Internet access, and sometimes unattended game rooms or swimming pools in addition to daily housekeeping services. The numbers of limited-service properties have been growing. These properties are not as costly to build and maintain. They appeal to budget-conscious family vacationers and travelers who are willing to sacrifice amenities for lower room prices.
Hotels can also be categorized based on a distinguishing feature or service provided by the hotel. Conference hotels provide meeting and banquet rooms, and usually food service, to large groups of people. Resort hotels offer luxurious surroundings with a variety of recreational facilities, such as swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, game rooms, and health spas, as well as planned social activities and entertainment. Resorts typically are located in vacation destinations or near natural settings, such as mountains, seashores, theme parks, or other attractions. As a result, the business of many resorts fluctuates with the season. Some resort hotels and motels provide additional convention and conference facilities to encourage customers to combine business with pleasure. During the off season, many of these establishments solicit conventions, sales meetings, and incentive tours to fill their otherwise empty rooms; some resorts even close for the off-season.
Extended-stay hotels typically provide rooms or suites with fully equipped kitchens, entertainment systems, office space with computer and telephone lines, fitness centers, and other amenities. Typically, guests use these hotels for a minimum of 5 consecutive nights often while on an extended work assignment or lengthy vacation or family visit. All-suite hotels offer a living room or sitting room in addition to a bedroom.
Casino hotels combine both lodging and legalized gaming on the same premises. Along with the typical services provided by most full-service hotels, casino hotels also contain casinos where patrons can wager at table games, play slot machines, and make other bets. Some casino hotels also contain conference and convention facilities.
In addition to hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, recreational vehicle (RV) parks, campgrounds, and rooming and boarding houses provide lodging for overnight guests and are included in this industry. Bed-and-breakfast inns provide short-term lodging in private homes or small buildings converted for this purpose and are characterized by highly personalized service and inclusion of breakfast in the room rate. Their appeal is quaintness, with unusual service and decor.
RV parks and campgrounds cater to people who enjoy recreational camping at moderate prices. Some parks and campgrounds provide service stations, general stores, shower and toilet facilities, and coin-operated laundries. While some are designed for overnight travelers only, others are for vacationers who stay longer. Some camps provide accommodations, such as cabins and fixed campsites, and other amenities, such as food services, recreational facilities and equipment, and organized recreational activities. Examples of these overnight camps include childrens camps, family vacation camps, hunting and fishing camps, and outdoor adventure retreats that offer trail riding, white-water rafting, hiking, fishing, game hunting, and similar activities.
Other short-term lodging facilities in this industry include guesthouses, or small cottages located on the same property as a main residence, and youth hostelsdormitory-style hotels with few frills, occupied mainly by students traveling on limited budgets. Also included are rooming and boarding houses, such as fraternity houses, sorority houses, off-campus dormitories, and workers camps. These establishments provide temporary or longer term accommodations that may serve as a principal residence for the period of occupancy. These establishments also may provide services such as housekeeping, meals, and laundry services.
Industry organization. In recent years, the hotel industry has become dominated by a few large national hotel chains. To the traveler, familiar chain establishments represent dependability and quality at predictable rates. Many chains recognize the importance of brand loyalty to guests and have expanded the range of lodging options offered under one corporate name to include a full range of hotels from limited-service, economy-type hotels to luxury inns. While these national corporations own some of the hotels, many properties are independently owned but affiliated with a chain through a franchise agreement or management contract. As part of a chain, individual hotels can participate in the companys national reservations service or incentive program, thereby appearing to belong to a larger enterprise.
For those who prefer more personalized service and a unique experience, boutique hotels are becoming more popular. These smaller hotels are generally found in urban locations and provide patrons good service and more distinctive décor and food selection.
While there are nationwide RV parks and campgrounds, most small lodging establishments are individually owned and operated by a single owner, who may employ a small staff to help operate the business.
Recent developments. The lodging industry is moving towards more limited-service properties mostly in suburban, residential, or commercial neighborhoods, often siting hotels near popular restaurants. Many full-service properties are limiting or quitting the food service business altogether, choosing to contract out their food service operations to third party restaurateurs, including long-term arrangements with chain restaurant operators. Urban business and entertainment districts are providing a greater mix of lodging options to appeal to a wider range of travelers.
Increased competition among establishments in this industry has spurred many independently owned and operated hotels and other lodging places to join national or international reservation systems. This allows travelers to make multiple reservations for lodging, airlines, and car rentals with one telephone call or Internet search. Nearly all hotel chains and many independent lodging facilities operate online reservation systems through the Internet or maintain websites that allow individuals to book rooms. Online marketing of properties is so popular with guests that many hotels promote themselves with elaborate websites and allow people to investigate availability and rates.
Hours. Because hotels are open around the clock, employees frequently work varying shifts or variable schedules. Employees who work the late shift generally receive additional compensation. Many employees enjoy the opportunity to work part-time, nights or evenings, or other schedules that fit their availability for work and the hotels needs. Hotel managers and many department supervisors may work regularly assigned schedules, but they also routinely work longer hours than scheduled, especially during peak travel times or when multiple events are scheduled. Also, they may be called in to work on short notice in the event of an emergency or to cover a position. Those who are self-employed, often owner-operators of small inns, camp sites, or RV parks, tend to work long hours and often live at the establishment or nearby.
Office and administrative support workers generally work scheduled hours in an office setting, meeting with guests, clients, and hotel staff. Their work can become hectic processing orders and invoices, dealing with demanding guests, or servicing requests that require a quick turnaround, but job hazards typically are limited to muscle and eye strain common to working with computers and office equipment.
Computer specialists, information technology and audiovisual technicians who are employed mostly by larger convention hotels typically maintain standard hours servicing the propertys websites and computer and communications networks. However, they often work long hours setting up and testing equipment for events that require their services.
Work environment. Work in hotels and other accommodations can be demanding and hectic. Hotel staffs provide a variety of services to guests and must do so efficiently, courteously, and accurately. They must maintain a pleasant demeanor even during times of stress or when dealing with an impatient or irate guest. Alternately, work at slower times, such as the off-season or overnight periods, can seem slow and tiresome. Still, hotel workers must be ready to provide guests and visitors with gracious customer service at any hour.
Food preparation and food service workers in hotels must withstand the strain of working during busy periods and being on their feet for many hours. Kitchen workers lift heavy pots and kettles and work near hot ovens and grills. Job hazards include slips and falls, cuts, and burns, but injuries are seldom serious. Food service workers often carry heavy trays of food, dishes, and glassware. Many of these workers work part time, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.
In 2006, work-related injuries and illnesses averaged 5.8 for every 100 full-time workers in hotels and other accommodations, compared with 4.4 for workers throughout private industry. Work hazards include burns from hot equipment, sprained muscles and wrenched backs from heavy lifting, and falls on wet floors.
Hotels and other accommodations provided 1.8 million wage and salary jobs in 2006. In addition, there were about 40,000 self-employed and unpaid family workers in the industry, who worked in bed-and-breakfast inns, camps, and small inns and hotels.
Employment is concentrated in cities and resort areas. Compared with establishments in other industries, hotels and other accommodations tend to be small. About 75 percent employed fewer than 20 workers and 55 percent employed fewer than 10 (chart). As a result, lodging establishments offer opportunities for those who are interested in owning and running their own business. Although establishments tend to be small, the majority of jobs are in larger hotels with more than 100 employees.
Hotels and other lodging places often provide first jobs to many new entrants to the labor force. In 2006, about 17 percent of the workers were younger than age 25, compared with about 14 percent across all industries.
The vast majority of workers in this industrymore than 4 out of 5 in 2006were employed in service and office and administrative support occupations (table 1). Workers in these occupations usually learn their skills on the job. Postsecondary education is not required for most entry-level positions; however, college training may be helpful for advancement in some of the occupations. For those in administrative supportmainly hotel desk clerksand service occupations, positive personality traits and a customer-service orientation may be more important than formal schooling. Traits most important for success in the hotels and other accommodations industry are good communication skills; the ability to get along with people in stressful situations; a neat, clean appearance; and a pleasant manner.
Service occupations. Service workers are by far the largest occupational group in the industry, accounting for 65 percent of the industrys employment. Most service jobs are in housekeeping occupationsincluding building cleaning workers, maids and housekeeping cleaners, and janitors and cleanersand in food preparation and serving jobsincluding chefs and head cooks, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, fast food and counter workers, and various other kitchen and dining room workers. The industry also employs many baggage porters and bellhops, gaming services workers, and grounds maintenance workers.
Workers in cleaning and housekeeping occupations ensure that the lodging facility is clean and in good condition for the comfort and safety of guests. Maids and housekeeping cleaners clean lobbies, halls, guestrooms, and bathrooms. They make sure that guests not only have clean rooms, but have all the necessary furnishings and supplies. They change sheets and towels, vacuum carpets, dust furniture, empty wastebaskets, and mop bathroom floors. In larger hotels, the housekeeping staff may include assistant housekeepers, floor supervisors, housekeepers, and executive housekeepers. Janitors help with the cleaning of the public areas of the facility, empty trash, and perform minor maintenance work.
Workers in the various food preparation and serving occupations deal with customers in the dining room or at a service counter. Waiters and waitresses take customers orders, serve meals, and prepare checks. In smaller establishments, they often set tables, escort guests to their seats, accept payment, and clear tables. In larger restaurants, some of these tasks are assigned to other workers.
Hosts and hostesses welcome guests, show them to their tables, and give them menus. Bartenders fill beverage orders for customers seated at the bar or from waiters and waitresses who serve patrons at tables. Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers assist waiters, waitresses, and bartenders by clearing, cleaning, and setting up tables, replenishing supplies at the bar, and keeping the serving areas stocked with linens, tableware, and other supplies. Fast food and counter workers take orders and serve food at fast-food counters and in coffee shops; they also may operate the cash register.
Chefs, cooks and food preparation workers prepare food in the kitchen. Larger hotels employ chefs and cooks who specialize in the preparation of many different kinds of food. They may have titles such as salad chef, grill chef, or pastry chef. Individual chefs may oversee the day-to-day operations of different kitchens in a hotel, such as a fine-dining full-service restaurant, a casual or counter-service establishment, or banquet operations. Chef positions generally are attained after years of experience and, sometimes, formal training, including apprenticeships. Larger establishments also employ executive chefs and food and beverage directors who plan menus, purchase food, and supervise kitchen personnel for all of the kitchens in the property. Food preparation workers shred lettuce for salads, cut up food for cooking, and perform simple cooking steps under the direction of the chef or head cook. Beginners may advance to more skilled food preparation jobs with experience or specialized culinary training.
Many full-service hotels employ a uniformed staff to assist arriving and departing guests. Baggage porters and bellhops carry bags and escort guests to their rooms. Concierges arrange special or personal services for guests. They may take messages, arrange for babysitting, make restaurant reservations, provide directions, arrange for or give advice on entertainment and local attractions, and monitor requests for housekeeping and maintenance. Doorkeepers help guests into and out of their cars, summon taxis, and carry baggage into the hotel lobby.
Hotels also employ the largest percentage of gaming services workers because much of gaming takes place in casino hotels. Some gaming services positions are associated with oversight and directionsupervision, surveillance, and investigationwhile others involve working with the games or patrons themselves, by tending the slot machines, handling money, writing and running tickets, dealing cards, and performing related duties.
The industry also employs a large number of recreation and fitness workers. At resort hotels and at vacation and recreational camps, recreation workers organize and conduct recreation activities for guests and campers. Camp counselors lead and instruct children and teenagers in outdoor-oriented forms of recreation, such as swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and camping. In addition, counselors at vacation and resident camps also provide guidance and supervise daily living and general socialization. Other types of campgrounds may employ trail guides for activities such as hiking, hunting, and fishing.
Office and administrative support occupations. These positions accounted for 19 percent of the jobs in hotels and other accommodations in 2006. Hotel desk clerks, bookkeeping and accounting clerks, and switchboard operators ensure that the front office operates smoothly. Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks process reservations and guests registrations and checkouts, monitor arrivals and departures, handle complaints, and receive and forward mail. The duties of hotel desk clerks depend on the size of the facility. In smaller lodging places, one clerk or a manager may do everything. In larger hotels, a larger staff divides the duties among several types of clerks.
Management, business, and financial operations occupations. Hotels and other lodging places employ many different types of managers to direct and coordinate the activities of the front office, kitchen, dining room, and other departments, such as housekeeping, accounting, personnel, purchasing, publicity, sales, security and maintenance. Lodging managers, typically the general manager and assistant managers, make decisions that affect the general operations of the hotel, including setting room rates, establishing credit policy, and having ultimate responsibility for resolving problems. In smaller establishments, lodging managers also may perform many of the front-office clerical tasks. In the smallest establishments, the ownerssometimes a family teamdo all the work necessary to operate the business.
Other managers are responsible for different phases of hotel operations. For example, food and beverage managers oversee restaurants, lounges, and catering or banquet operations. Rooms managers look after reservations and occupancy levels to ensure proper room assignments and authorize discounts, special rates, or promotions. Large hotels, especially those with conference centers, use an executive committee structure to improve departmental communications and coordinate activities. Other managers who may serve on a hotels executive committee include public relations or sales managers, human resource directors, executive housekeepers, and heads of hotel security.
Other occupations. Hotels and other accommodations employ a variety of workers found in many other industries. General maintenance and repair workers fix leaky faucets, do some painting and carpentry, make sure that heating and air-conditioning equipment works properly, mow lawns, and exterminate pests. The industry also employs cashiers, accountants, personnel workers, and entertainers. As properties acquire and use more sophisticated computer systems, they employ more computer specialists to help maintain these systems as well as the hotels website, and computer connections for guests. Also, many additional workers inside a hotel may work for other companies under contract to the hotel or may provide personal or retail services directly to hotel guests from space rented by the hotel. This group includes guards and security officers, barbers, cosmetologists, fitness trainers and aerobics instructors, valets, gardeners, and parking attendants.
Most large hotel properties employ persons in occupations that require a wide range of skills and experience. Most entry-level jobs require little or no previous training; basic tasks usually can be learned in a short time. Lodging managers and many department heads conversely usually require some formal training or years of hospitality industry experience, or both. All positions though require employees to maintain a customer-service orientation. Yet, almost all workers in the hotel and other accommodations industry undergo some on-the-job training provided under the supervision of an experienced employee or manager to acclimate new employees to any unique characteristics of the property or the local area.
Hotel managers and owners recognize the importance of personal service and attention to guests; so they look for persons with positive personality traits and good communication skills when filling many guest services positions, such as desk clerk and host and hostess positions. Many hotel managers place a greater emphasis on customer service skills while providing specialized training in other skill areas, such as computer technology and software. Vocational courses and apprenticeship programs in food preparation, catering, and hotel and restaurant management, offered through restaurant and lodging associations and trade unions, provide training opportunities. Programs range in length from a few months to several years.
Service workers. Most service workers need only a high school diploma or equivalent to get hired, but some can be hired with even less. Some entry-level jobs are filled by students looking for part-time or seasonal work. Most hotels, particularly the chain hotels, have some formal training sessions for new employees that may include video or on-line training. Advancement opportunities for service workers in the hotel industry vary widely. Some workers, such as housekeepers and janitors, generally have few opportunities for advancement. In large properties, some may advance to supervisory positions. Advancement opportunities for chefs and cooks are better than those for most other service occupations. Cooks often advance to chef or to supervisory and management positions, such as executive chef, restaurant manager, or food service manager. Hotel desk clerks sometimes advance to supervisory or managerial front-office positions.
Promotional opportunities often are greatest for those who are willing to take on a new assignment in a different department. Advancement for those who excel at customer service and demonstrate a willingness to learn front-office jobs can serve as a steppingstone to jobs in public relations, advertising, sales, and management.
Management, business, and financial operations occupations. Many hotels fill first-level manager positions by promoting staff from withinparticularly those with good communication skills, a solid educational background, tact, loyalty, and a capacity to endure hard work and long hours. People with these qualities still advance to manager jobs but, more recently, lodging chains have primarily been hiring persons with 4-year college degrees in the liberal arts or other fields and starting them in assistant manager or management trainee positions. Bachelors and Masters degree programs in hotel, restaurant, and hospitality management provide the strongest background for a career as a hotel manager, with nearly 150 colleges and universities offering such programs. Graduates of these programs are highly sought by employers in this industry, because of their familiarity with technical issues and their ability to learn related skills quickly. Eventually, they may advance to a top management position in a hotel or a corporate management position in a large chain operation.
Upper management positions, such as general manager, food service manager, or sales manager, generally require considerable formal training and job experience. Some department managers, executive housekeepers, and executive chefs, generally require some specialized training and extensive on-the-job experience. To advance to positions with more responsibilities, lodging managers frequently change employers or relocate within a chain to a property in another area.
Office and administrative support occupations. For office and administrative support workers, advancement opportunities in the hotel industry vary widely. These occupations offer excellent entry-level job prospects and can serve as a steppingstone to jobs in hospitality, public relations, advertising, sales, and management.
The hotels and other accommodations industry is expected to provide many new jobs over the 2006-16 period. New hotel construction and steady strength in the business and international travel segments will create job opportunities in an array of occupations in this industry.
Employment change. Wage and salary employment in hotels and other accommodations is expected to increase by 14 percent, compared with 11 percent growth projected for all industries combined. Travel and tourism, having rebounded since the recession following 9/11, is expected to continue growing and result in a greater need for transient rooms. All segments of the hotel market are expected to see increases in the number of rooms, but the greatest number of rooms coming on line will be in limited service hotels that do not provide food service. Many of these newer hotels are being built in the suburbs where a growing population is increasingly based and a base of business establishments is being developed.
Employment outlook varies somewhat by service class of hotel and occupation. Growth of full-service hotels, casino hotels, and the small, but burgeoning, luxury hotel market that specializes in personal service will cause employment of lodging managers to grow much faster than the average. The accelerating trend toward chain-affiliated hotels should provide managers with opportunities for advancement into general manager positions, manager jobs at larger and busier properties, and corporate administrative jobs. Opportunities should be more limited for self-employed managers or owners of small lodging places, such as bed-and-breakfast inns, because of the competition from long-established chains as they move into new markets once friendly to the quainter properties. Job opportunities at outdoor recreation and RV parks should grow as RVs and driving vacations gain popularity in the United States. Also, gaming services and gaming manager occupations should grow as more casino hotels are built.
Employment of hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks is expected to grow faster than some other occupations in the industry in part because the growing numbers of limited-service hotels still require desk clerks. Employment of waiters and waitresses will grow more slowlyreflecting the increasing number of hotels and other accommodations that either do not offer full-service restaurants or contract them out to other food service establishments.
Job prospects. Although most of the hotels opening over the next decade will be limited service hotels, most of the job openings will arise in full-service hotels, including convention, casino, and resort hotels, because they employ the most workers. Limited-service properties do not operate restaurants, or lounges; therefore, these establishments offer a narrower range of employment opportunities; however, the streamlined organizational structure offers a faster route to the general manager level for those more interested in running or owning their own hotel. Job opportunities will be concentrated in the largest hotel occupations, such as building cleaning workers and hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks. These workers are found in all types of hotels and accommodations, from the limited service economy hotels to posh casino hotels. They also are important to the growing luxury hotel segment that emphasizes personal service.
Some occupations in this industry have relatively high numbers of workers who leave their jobs and must be replaced. Many young people and those looking only for seasonal or part-time work, and not a career, take food service and clerical jobs that require little or no previous training. To attract and retain workers, the hotel and other accommodations industry is placing more emphasis on training and retaining employees. Therefore, job opportunities in this industry should be plentiful for first-time jobseekers and people with limited skills.
Industry earnings. Earnings in hotels and other accommodations generally are much lower than the average for all industries. In 2006, average earnings for all nonsupervisory workers in this industry were $353 a week, compared with $533 a week, for workers throughout private industry. Many workers in this industry earn the Federal minimum wage of $5.85 an hour or less, if tips are included as a substantial part of earnings. Workers in these lower paying occupations will see their future earnings increase on a phased-in basis to $7.25 per hour by 2009. Some States have laws that establish a higher minimum wage.
Food and beverage service workers, as well as hosts and hostesses, maids and housekeeping cleaners, concierges, and baggage porters and bellhops, derive their earnings from a combination of hourly earnings and customer tips. Waiters and waitresses often derive the majority of their earnings from tips, which vary greatly depending on menu prices and the volume of customers served. Many employers also provide free meals and furnish uniforms. Food service personnel may receive extra pay for working at banquets and on other special occasions. In general, workers with the greatest skills, such as restaurant cooks, have the highest earnings, and workers who receive tips have the lowest. Earnings in the largest occupations in hotels and other lodging places appear in table 2.
Salaries of lodging managers are dependent upon the size and sales volume of the establishment and their specific duties and responsibilities. Managers may earn bonuses ranging up to 50 percent of their basic salary. In addition, they may be furnished with meals, parking, laundry, and other services, and sometimes on-site lodging for themselves and their families. Some hotels offer profit-sharing plans, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits to their employees.
Benefits and union membership. About 10 percent of the workers in hotels and other accommodations are union members or are covered by union contracts, compared with 13 percent of workers in all industries combined.
For information on hospitality careers and a directory of academic programs in hospitality management, write to:
General information on food and beverage service jobs is available from:
For information on the American Culinary Federations apprenticeship and certification programs for chefs, write to:
Detailed information on the following hotels and other accommodations occupations may be found in the 2008-09 Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition, Hotels and Other Accommodations, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs036.htm (visited September 17, 2008 ).
Last Modified Date: March 12, 2008