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  • Writer's pictureKarl Gleave

Why I love working in Hospitality

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

So, like many I was put on ‘furlough’ in 2020 and with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk in my industry, more than one person in my life turned and said to me… “Why don’t you look at other jobs outside of hospitality?”. Well, the long and short of it is; it’s my passion and right where I want to be! At the time however I couldn’t fully explain why, and because it’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question I thought I’d try and put my passion into writing.

Hospitality has a wealth of history…

For me hospitality dates back to 2004, but this absolute behemoth of an industry has been going for centuries and dwarfs the likes of the tech and automotive industry. This isn’t really why I chose to work in the industry, but knowing that it stood the test of time and evolved through the years makes it that much more interesting. It’s actually fascinating how much of a role it plays a role in our lives without us really noticing and taking it for granted. Hospitality services for social and religious gatherings were quite common in around 40 BC (according to experts). The ancient Greeks came up with thermal baths that were designed for recuperation and relaxation and are said to be the origin of the modern-day Spa. Thank the gods because I love a good spa day! When the Romans provided accommodation for traveller’s comfort and entertainment on government premises it started to emulate what we know today as the ‘Hotel’.

“Like a collector of stamps, fridge magnets or snow globes, whenever I travel it’s almost like I’ve collected a badge, and not just in my passport”

The common connection of travel…

Hospitality and travel often go hand in hand. Whenever I travel and stay in hotels, I feel like I’m joining a club and sharing a slice of history with others who’ve visited, whether it be historic Rome, fashionable Paris, or glamorous Santa Monica. Like a collector of stamps, fridge magnets or snow globes, whenever I travel it’s almost like I’ve collected a badge, and not just in my passport. When you return home from your vacation or business trip you naturally share your thoughts and experiences with others. When someone’s been to the same place as you, you’ll know the feeling when you instantly strike up that conversation comparing notes and feelings. The conversation almost always migrates to where you should go next, or what you should try when you go back. That’s because we love to share what we’ve done and where we’ve been. I continue to share my stories with others and my bucket list never stops growing!

“The world has so many interesting and scenic places but, it would be very difficult to explore it if there were no places to stay or eat and drink in when we get there”

Forever adapting, innovating and evolving…

Travel has changed dramatically over the years and one of the best examples of this is when we fly. Dreaded by some travellers for the long security protocols, endless queuing, and waiting around, worldwide events have shaped our industry and particularly travel. Throughout these times it always continues to adapt and change to survive. Both hotels and airlines have even changed how they interact with guests through the use of smart technology. In the case of hotels especially, guests are now able to share their interests, customise their stays, and tailor their experience in exchange for sharing their data. An industry that fails to innovate and adapt is often not seen for long, but hospitality cannot be found guilty of this. As the experiences we have become more and more precious to us, the industry races to build and design more and more experiences to appease our appetite. Guests want to swim in the dessert, sleep in an Icelandic tundra, and dine on a deserted island. The world has so many interesting and scenic places but, it would be very difficult to explore it if there were no places to stay or eat and drink in when we get there. I’m always excited to see what the innovators of our industry make up next.

“...the guest is equivalent to God...”

It’s all about diversity and opportunity…

It’s not just the travel or the places you can stay in, but the people you meet. Hospitality spans across the world and is a huge industry spanning different cultures, each placing their own twist on it. For instance, Irish hospitality is known for being among the friendliest in the world. I’ve travelled to Dublin & Cork as a stranger, but the warm nature of the people meant I was always greeted as a friend. In India there’s rich cultural heritage and traditions. Their belief in ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’, meaning the guest is equivalent to God. When welcomed by hosts, guests are greeted by folded hands and a bowing down of the head that shows respect, love, friendliness, and humility.

Having worked for large international hotel chains I’ve had the fortune of meeting and working with people from around the world. Working with a team of people from different backgrounds and cultures can be challenging at times but when you’re all working to the same goal and serving international guests it really helps! When I started out in hotels, I found myself teaching English and learning Polish, and then ten years later I find myself in the centre of London managing a small team of six people who spoke 11 different languages, all carving their own carriers in hospitality.

I know that I’ll always meet someone new working in hospitality. If it’s not a new colleague who has travelled to the UK to learn some of that famous English hospitality and charm, it’s the guests walking through the door.

Just this year I was chatting to a guest who I’d taken a frantic last-minute reservation for the night before. He was a private pilot for a wealthy family and didn’t always know his schedule but travelled all over the world wherever the family members needed next. On this occasion he was picking up his employers’ daughter from her London university. Travelling and staying all over the world seems out of reach for some but after further discussion I learnt he grew up just ten minutes’ drive from where I grew up. A reminder that the world is smaller than you think, but just means we all have a greater opportunity to explore it!

As any other job, it has its ups and downs, but I’m regularly reminded of why I love hospitality and sometimes it comes so naturally that it doesn’t feel like a job at all. Sure, the pays not always great, the hours are long, and not everyone you meet are quite as polite and friendly as they could be. But those working in the service long enough will know the warm and proud feeling you get when you help make someone’s experience or stay a memorable one.

So yeah….It’s still right where I want to be!

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