Hospitality and travel industry

Hospitality and Travel

Taking Pleasure in Leisure...

We all need some time off every now and then, and when we do, we all like to do it in different ways. People working in hospitality and travel make it all possible, from booking our holidays to mixing a fine cocktail when we want to let our hair down.

About the Hospitality and Travel industry

There are all kinds of good news about this sector. The big one is that a lot of people find it fun to work in, as you’re spending a lot of time in social environments with people who want to enjoy themselves. But you might also want to know that the industry needs more people, fast, and that you can move up the ladder pretty quickly: it’s not unusual to be in senior positions, including management roles, well before you turn thirty.

What can I do?

As Madonna once sang, taking a holiday can be so nice. But only if there are people to make it that way, so the hotel business makes up a big part of the industry. You could work in hotels of all shapes and sizes, from boutique city centre sites to huge resorts, doing anything from taking care of rooms to waiting tables, serving drinks, leading tours or taking bookings.

As well as holidays, the industry also caters for our nights out, business trips, special occasions and more. So you might start your career in a bar, pub or restaurant, preparing and serving food and drink, taking care of customers, handling money or perhaps managing the entire operation as a member of a front of house team.

On the travel side, your career might really soar with a job working for an airline, or get moving with a coach or rail company. Rewinding to the start of the process, you could be helping people book their tickets, giving them advice on where to go or making arrangements for leisure or business travel. It all relies on technology, too, from online booking to company websites, so there are ICT roles aplenty if that’s your idea of a day at the beach.

Young girl with backpack enjoying sunset on peak of foggy mountain

Hospitality and travel skills

Working in the industry demands a range of skills. If you’re working behind the scenes in a kitchen or hotel, for example, you’ll need to be able to work long hours in a physical job, and care about things like hygiene, detail – in anything from serving food to cleaning a bathroom – and working efficiently. If you’re in a customer service role, on the other hand, the focus will be on getting on with people and making sure they have a good experience.

No-one expects you to arrive with all your skills in place, though: you’ll develop them as you work and train in the industry. What you’ll need to start off with is a good attitude, a willingness to learn and a real passion for making sure the people you serve enjoy themselves.

Hospitality and travel careers

Here are just a few of the jobs people do in the industry:

  • Food and drink – kitchen assistant, school cook, chef, waiter, bar person
  • Hotel and B&B – hospitality services assistant, housekeeper, receptionist, front of house staff
  • Travel and tourism – travel consultant, customer service adviser, bookings administrator, resort rep, cabin crew, activity instructor (sailing, swimming, children’s games etc.)

In almost all cases there are pathways to more senior roles, including management positions, as well as the chance to move between sites and work in different locations. You could also switch jobs with the seasons – perhaps being a beach resort rep in summer and a housekeeper in chalets at a ski resort in winter.

Virgin Holidays Apprenticeships


There are plenty of different ways to get the skills you need for the hospitality industry. Ready for some serious play?

Work-based & work-related qualifications

Relevant NVQ and BTEC programmes include:

– Hospitality

– Travel and Tourism

– Business

If you’re wanting a management or business-related role, other programmes in accountancy,  finance or management will also open the door. Don’t forget: BTECs etc. can also pave the way for a degree.

There are relevant Apprenticeships at three levels:

-Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades

-Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels / Highers

-Level Four / Five (Higher) – equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers

Apprenticeships include:

– Hospitality Supervisor

– Hospitality Team Member

– Front of House Reception

– Housekeeping

– Travel Services

A Levels and Bachelors Degrees
Useful A Levels might include:

– Travel and Tourism

– Leisure Studies

– Business Studies

– Languages

Already know that a degree is the way you want to break into the sector? Head to UCAS and find out what A Levels (or Scottish Highers/IB modules) you’ll need for the course that interests you.

Industry-specific degree programmes in this area include Bachelors programmes in Travel and Tourism, International Tourism Management and Hospitality Management; you could also consider business and finance degrees. Language degrees could also be appealing to employers.

Life in hospitality and travel

It’s never going to be dull working in this industry. You’ll meet lots of different people; build up a range of skills; be involved in anything from small, intimate gatherings to huge, fancy shindigs; and perhaps have the chance to travel the world while you’re at it.

There’s no one path through an industry as diverse as this one. There isn’t even a regular working day: while many jobs stick to office hours (usually around nine am to six pm), people in hospitality and travel might work late nights, early mornings, or alternate between the two.

You’ll be part of a team in any role in the industry. You might join a crew in a kitchen, a team of waiters, an office of travel agents…there are lots of options. There are even tech roles behind the scenes for giants like Airbnb. The seasonal nature of the industry means you’ll face different challenges at various points throughout the year (summer and Christmas holidays, for example), and of course, it can be a downer to be the ones working while the rest of the world seems to be kicking back.

The flip side of this is that the working environment itself can be unusual, energetic and fun. You’ll have lots of options for progression and moving between different posts, if that appeals; better get your passport in shape, just in case.

You could work at:

  • Travel agencies
  • Conference centres
  • Hotels and hostels
  • Restaurants
  • Bars and clubs

Find apprenticeships and jobs in the hospitality and travel industry near you at Careermap.

At a glance: paths into the industry

  • Traineeships
  • Vocational qualifications, eg BTEC, HNC / HND
  • A Levels, IB or Scottish Highers
  • Apprenticeships & Degree Apprenticeships
  • Bachelors Degrees

More info


1. 4.49 million people work in hospitality. It’s the UK’s fourth largest employer (source: British Hospitality Association)

2. Hospitality is going to need 100,000 more skilled workers by 2020

3. Overseas visitors spent a total of 241 million nights in the UK in 2015, according to Visit Britain.

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