Soft Skills: Graduation Is Only The Start Of Your Hospitality Career!

Soft Skills: Graduation Is Only The Start Of Your Hospitality Career!

Soft Skills: Graduation Is Only The Start Of Your Hospitality Career!

The Soft Skills you will need to succeed in Hospitality will most likely be learned, quickly, on the job.  Just because you have graduated it does NOT mean you are an instant Hotelier. There is still much to experience and learn.

Oh no, I thought my education was over!

Well, yes, the theory part of your education is over and now comes the practical part!

There are a thousand other ‘facets’ of Hospitality which you will need to master; most of which college and university can never hope to teach you.  And a lot of which are what employers call Soft Skills.

The sad fact is that many Employers expect and demand these ‘facets’ and Soft Skills from their newly hired graduates.  They expect that your college will have already taught you them, as they do not have the time or resources to teach you once you are employed.

Someone once asked me what I had learned from all my years in International Hospitality. I joked:

The only thing that I have learned is how to use a Guest Toilet

without removing the strip that proudly states “Sanitized for your Protection”


One a more serious note though….

After 55 years in the International Hospitality Business one key thing that I have realized is that Guests, from the moment they arrive at a hotel, restaurant, or airline, change their COMPLEXION.

I do not mean they literally go from Lily-white to 10-days-of-tropical-island-tanned, the moment they step into the lobby.  But this:

The most rational of people can act in the most irrational of ways!


Some guests think, and act, like they own everything including YOU! When, in reality, they have only rented a bedroom for the night!

Unfortunately, colleges and their tutors globally, are rarely equipped nor do they have the detailed operational hospitality experience to be able to teach you the VITAL SOFT SKILLS you will need and require in your career. Especially to handle experiences like that; where someone you are serving is treating you poorly.


So what are these Vital Soft Skills?

  • Excellent communication skills: Written, spoken, observational and body language.
  • Listening skills: Listening to understand rather than listening just to answer, concentrating on the speaker keeping good eye contact.
  • Empathy: Do we all know what that means? I’ve visited some hotels where it is sadly lacking in some of the employees.
  • Respect: For elders, all nationalities, and religions.
  • Working as a team and supporting your colleagues
  • Handling ambiguity
  • Managing personal feelings
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Patience …. and lots of it!
  • Your attitude to work; you have 2 choices, so choose wisely!
  • Analytical skills
  • Creativity
  • Diplomacy
  • Graciousness
  • Enthusiasm; it’s contagious!


John Savage Avatar; Pointing up

WoW!! I hear you say

That is a massive ask!


Well yes, it is!

Some of these Soft Skills you may already have naturally. Or you may already have learned them as you have grown up and matured. The other Soft Skills you will have to learn and master.



Because your future employers need and demand you have these.  Remember that they will be looking even more carefully for those Vital Soft Skills in new hires in future.


How Can I learn These Soft Skills?

Some employers may run mini staff development training sessions as part of team meetings.

Another way to learn is to watch your supervisor or team manager, and see how they handle their role, senior management, guests and teams. Then emulate their style and approach.  Many people in supervisor positions have been promoted to that position because of their soft skills and experience in the role.

Don’t panic!  Everyone has to start at the bottom and “work their way up” and there will be much to learn in your new role.

Check out my article Active Listening And Why It’s A Skill You Must Master

Feel free to let me know what you think, experiences you’ve had where you used your best Soft Skills, or ask any questions. Just click on Comments

What do you think?

Written by John Savage

John H V Savage, is the Executive Director of International Hospitality & Tourism Educational Programs (IHTEP Asia) has spent over 55 years in the International Hospitality Industry and worked in over 45 different countries for Multi-National, National & private owners.

John is a highly entertaining motivational lecturer, as well as a TV star in China for his 5Star Butler Course. John is also the author of the What They Can Never Teach You At Hotel School eBook series

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