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The Hotel Industry - Apprenticeship and Training

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Hotels offer greater opportunities for young men and women to apprentice and train themselves than many other industries. In addition, few other industries can offer the added convenience of hours that fit in well with school hours. Since most hotels operate on a three-shift system, it is easy for students to work after school hours in apprentice jobs at hotels.

The three common hotel shifts are 7:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M., 3:30 P.M. to 11:30 P.M., and 11:30 P.M. to 7:30 A.M. In some hotels this timing has been adjusted to the even hours, 8:00 A.M., 4:00 P.M., and midnight. The hours from 3:30 P.M. to 11:30 P.M. make good school job hours for student trainees.

On-the-job training is an important part of many courses in hotel work. Many schools and colleges that offer hotel training find no better teacher than a job itself. The opportunity for on-the-job training is opens not only to training school students but to all young men and women. Whether or not they are attending special hotel schools, part-time apprentices and trainees are welcomed by most hotels.

Perhaps you are in school and wish to enter the hotel industry without attending a special hotel training school or taking hotel courses right now. Your best bet is to apply for a part-time job at the nearest hotel. Opportunities exist to fill such jobs as bell person, elevator operator, page, key clerk, mail clerk, information clerk, file clerk, office helper, chef's helper, kitchen helper, front office assistant, and waiter. Many students put themselves through high school, college, and hotel training courses by taking part-time or full-time jobs, after school hours, in hotels.

A part-time job is an excellent way to discover whether you really like the hotel business. It is a comparatively easy way to learn about the hotel industry and to decide if you like it well enough to continue your studies in hotel administration.

On-the-job training is highly valued, and in hotel training courses, special credits are given for this work. On-the-job training or apprenticeship can substitute partly for outside studies until such time as you are able to complete a hotel training course.

Many hotels have taken in hand their personnel who started in the field as apprentices with no formal education in hotel work. These employees are attending special training sessions to increase their professional growth. Classes are offered in cooperation with the local Career Development Chapter or directly by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association (AHMA). This unique educational experience cuts across class lines and helps bring professionalism to individuals who have neither the financial resources nor the time to attend a formal course of instruction. The Educational Institute also offers an individualized home study program that provides persons who desire to advance their career the opportunity to learn at their own pace while still earning at their present position.

Since professional growth never stops, the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association offers a certified hotel administrator program. For further information concerning this program, or any of the other fine programs offered by the Educational Institute, write to The Educational Institute of AHMA, P.O. Box 1240, East Lansing, Michigan 48826 or contact AHMA at 1201 New York Avenue NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005, (202) 289-3100;

If you think you would like to enter the hotel business; if you feel yourself qualified to enter it; if you are ambitious, energetic, and not afraid of hard work; if you are tolerant, understanding, and like all kinds of people from all walks of life-then let nothing stand in your way.


Kenneth J. Hine, an executive officer of the American Hotel and Motel Association, has the following to say about career opportunities in the lodging industry.

Because of the many different types of lodging establishments and the many services they provide, there are a multitude of jobs available. The qualifications for these jobs are so varied that men and women with a wide range of educational backgrounds, work experience, and skills can find exciting careers in the inn keeping industry. Further, there are many opportunities for part-time or full-time, day or night, seasonal or year-round, technical or non-technical positions.

Hotel careers can be divided into these major categories:
  • Front Office Staff-responsible for direct personal contact with the guests, handling reservations, special needs, check-in and check-out.

  • Service Staff-responsible for greeting guests, handling baggage, and assisting with travel plans.

  • Accounting-responsible for tracking financial information critical to the operations of any business.

  • Food Service Personnel-responsible for making every meal a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

  • Food Preparation-responsible for ensuring food is prepared properly.

  • Housekeeping-responsible for maintaining a neat and clean home for visitors.

  • Sales Department Staff-responsible for promotions, handling special arrangements for groups such as meetings, banquets, conventions, and all special events such as weddings.

  • Other Departments and Services including: Security, Safety, Fire Protection, Room Service, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, etc.
A career in the lodging industry offers excellent opportunities for advancement. Lack of experience or education is not a barrier to employment in the lodging industry-it only determines where your career begins. Once you have entered the field, the pace at which you move upward largely depends on your willingness to work hard, the desire to do a good job, your level of enthusiasm and eagerness to advance. On-the-job training programs are plentiful, and excellent correspondence courses are available through the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Motel Association. Fees for vocational training courses are often reimbursed by your employer.

Because of the size and scope of the lodging industry, there is something for everyone who wants to work in this field. It's a fast-paced growth industry that offers new jobs each year, with excellent job security and opportunities for advancement. Further, you can travel and select where you want to work, the hours, and even the season, if you wish.

Salaries compare favorably with other retail trades, plus there are many extra benefits not reflected in salary. For example, in many cases, at least one meal is furnished, excellent benefit plans are available, and often bonus programs can earn individuals up to 30 percent of their base salary.


The most important personal trait necessary for success in the hotel industry is the ability to get along with all kinds of people under all situations. The people you must deal with in this industry, guests and employees alike, range widely in degrees of education, personal experience, intelligence, business background, nationality, and personal characteristics.

When you take stock of yourself, ask yourself one question. Do you like all people well enough to overlook their idiosyncrasies? If you think you do, then this is the field for you. This does not mean that you must have a smiley or sunny personality. But it does mean that you must be broadminded, tolerant, understanding, and humane. To paraphrase Kipling, if you can mingle with cabbages and walk with kings, then the hotel business is for you. Barron Hilton, president and chief executive officer, Hilton Hotels Corporation, in a statement for readers of this text, said:

I believe the lodging industry offers some of the most personally rewarding careers in American business. For the man or woman seeking an opportunity, our industry offers almost every type of career; from marketing, with its research, sales, advertising, and public relations responsibilities; through service functions in lodging and food and beverage; to the specialist fields of finance, architecture, engineering, and law.

An adequate education is fundamental to one's success in our industry, as it is to one's success in any industry of American business. For those desiring specialized educational training for our industry, many of our nation's largest universities offer outstanding hotel and restaurant management schools. However, I think it well to point out that even such specialized training does not guarantee employment in our industry, but it does highly qualify one to seek such an opportunity. For those having the patience and willingness to invest a period of employment equivalent to that which they have invested in an education, to learn the practical application of their training, for learning the particular operation of companies to join, and to demonstrate their desire to stand apart in effort and creativity, their success is a foregone conclusion.

My greatest wish is that those entering new careers in our industry find the degree of enjoyment, the sense of accomplishment, and the pleasure of the friendships and associations that I have been privileged to know.
Any person contemplating a career in the hotel industry should be neat, have a flair for detail, and a willingness to be of service to humanity. This last requirement is not a catch-all phrase; it embodies the ability to listen attentively, have a ready smile, and maintain a reserved manner. Therefore, any person possessing an uncontrollable temper or an inbred shyness must try to overcome these defects if he or she is to make a successful career in the modern hotel. To those feeling qualified to make a career out of the hotel business, the pleasant surroundings, the opportunity to meet new people, and the gratification derived from rendering service are but a few of the rewards of a job well done.

One of the most successful hotel operators in the industry is Preston R. Tisch, co-chairman of Lowes Hotels. Tisch, who with his brother, Laurence A. Tisch, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Loews Corp., has created one of this nation's leading hotel chains, comments on qualities that make for success in the hotel field:
As in any other field of endeavor, anybody contemplating a career in the hotel industry should investigate firsthand the many types of jobs available in the inn keeping field and determine which sort of work he or she is best suited for. A person with a flair for cookery, for instance, would make a poor salesperson, and all the hotel schools in the world would doubtless never make this individual a top salesperson. On the other hand, the proper training, coupled with practical experience on the job, could lead to a well-paying and satisfactory position as a chef.

There are no easy jobs in the hotel business. Most of the positions call for long hours and a type of dedication not often found in other lines of work. The best-rounded hotel people are the ones who started at the bottom and got a very thorough grounding in all phases of the work from back-of-the-house up. Hotel schools can be a help in certain specialized hotel jobs, but there is no substitute for hard experience.

The good hotel employee whether a general manager or bellhop, has to like people to be successful. For after all, it is people with whom you will be dealing-not machines or cardboard cartons. I will pay more for the ability to handle people than for any other quality or trait. By people, I mean not only the guests but the other employees in the hotel. Generally, the good host is born with this ability. But, to a certain extent, it can be acquired, and it must be acquired if one is to get ahead in hotels.

Second in qualities necessary to the inn keeping profession I would list attention to detail. Very often I find that the most vehement complaints from patrons are due to seemingly insignificant omissions on the part of staff members. A restaurant guest will wait uncomplainingly in line to get a table at a busy restaurant, but will go completely berserk over a dirty water glass or an overly hard dinner roll. He will accept a smaller room than the one he reserved, but will blow his top because a washcloth is missing from the bath. The waiter or the housekeeper who is lax in the little things automatically puts the entire hotel in a bad light. Some guests will become so wrought up over minor details that they will never return.

Third, every hotel employee must bear in mind the old axiom that the customer is always right, even if he is entirely wrong. To attempt to defend yourself against an unjust attack is only natural; nevertheless, you must bear in mind that the complainant has paid good money in your establishment, and, in his own mind, there is nobody more important than he. You can prove he is wrong, but in doing so you are bound to lose him and the friends he might otherwise recommend. The smart hotelier will immediately disarm the guest by agreeing with him and offering to make things right without delay. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and those are the ones in which some heavy financial outlay is involved by way of restitution.

Fourth, hotel people who want to make progress in their field should give a little more than the job requires. It is the self-starter, the one who develops new ideas on her or his own initiative, who will amount to something in the long run. This is the person we are constantly looking for at Loews Hotels.
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