It may be popular for part-time, casual and entry-level work, but there are also opportunities for graduates to make their mark in the hospitality and events sector
What areas can I work in?
Hospitality jobs are available in:
- contract catering/food service management
- leisure attractions
- pubs, bars and nightclubs
- restaurants and coffee shops
- self-catering and holiday centres.
Events careers include:
- conference management
- corporate days out and product launches
- entertainment and sporting events
- exhibition management
- weddings and parties.
Companies in the hospitality sector also recruit graduates to a range of head office functions such as finance, IT, human resources (HR), customer service, sales and marketing, property and legal and general management. Graduate schemes in hospitality are often focused on these roles.
For examples of job roles in this sector, see hospitality jobs.
Who are the main graduate employers?
Examples of companies operating in the hospitality industry include:
- Compass Group (catering)
- Greene King (pubs, restaurants and hotels)
- Hilton Hotels and Resorts
- InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
- Jurys Inn
- Marriott International (hotels)
- Merlin Entertainments (attractions such as Alton Towers and SEA LIFE)
- Mitchells & Butlers (pubs and restaurants)
- Sodexo (catering and event management)
- The Deltic Group (late night bars and clubs)
- Whitbread (includes Costa Coffee and Premier Inn).
Many of the UK's hotels and restaurants are independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and most pubs and bars are small businesses employing fewer than ten people.
Event management companies include:
- Clarion Events
- Live Nation Entertainment (concert venues)
- London Business Conferences
- Theme Traders.
You could work for an event management company, a particular venue or an event supplier. Large companies such as hotel chains and contract caterers also recruit event managers, while some major charities have fundraising roles that involve some event planning.
Another popular option is self-employment - you could run your own pub or bar independently or as part of a franchise, or work as a freelancer in the events industry.
What's it like working in the sector?
Graduates entering the hospitality and event management sector can expect:
- opportunities to work throughout the UK or overseas
- salaries to be dependent on the organisation you work for
- to work unsociable hours, including evenings and weekends
- promotion from within to be common
- performance-related pay, commission and bonus structures in some event management roles.
To find out more about typical salaries and working conditions in your chosen career, see job profiles.
Do I need a related degree?
Undergraduate courses in subjects such as hospitality management and event management are available. Degrees relating to business or marketing are typically seen as relevant by employers too, while a language will be useful if you want to work internationally.
Some, but not all, large employers require a 2:1 degree and possibly a specific number of UCAS points as a minimum for getting a job.
Having a degree means you can apply directly for management positions and hospitality graduate schemes. However, this is a sector with clear progression routes and it is possible to work your way up to management positions from a lower qualification level.
Further study isn't generally necessary, but if you'd like to develop higher-level skills, search for postgraduate courses in tourism, hospitality and event management.
In fact, for most jobs in this sector a related degree isn't necessary and employers recruit graduates of any discipline. It's much more important that you have extensive work experience in a similar role.
This could be a placement as part of your degree, part-time or casual work while studying, or volunteering - for example, helping to plan events for university clubs and societies. Search for work experience in hospitality and events management.
Alternatively, apprenticeships are also widely available in the hospitality and event management sector. Find out more about apprenticeships.
What skills do employers want?
You will need:
- a people-centred approach and customer service skills
- the ability to work in a team
- flexibility, a willingness to work unsocial hours and stamina
- confidence, a persuasive approach and organisational skills
- language skills.
However, the Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Recruitment Outlook reported that along with construction, hospitality firms were the most likely to report difficulties in finding staff - with 83% of employers in both sectors saying they have struggled. It was also reported that all sectors have significant issues with recruitment, so you need to make sure that you do your research and have the right skills that employers are looking for. To find out more, see what skills do employers want?.
How do I find a graduate job in hospitality?
Some of the larger companies in this sector offer graduate training schemes, including:
- Compass Group
- InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
- Jurys Inn
- Merlin Entertainments
- Mitchells & Butlers
These can be hospitality management/operations or head office functions such as finance, marketing, IT, HR and retail.
Some employers offer graduate schemes leading to an international career in hospitality. Others, such as Wetherspoon, advertise head office careers that are not specifically aimed at graduates, so you may be competing with people with several years' experience.
As the vast majority of organisations in the sector are SMEs, speculative applications can be effective. Companies also use local press and recruitment agencies to advertise vacancies.
For event management, the best way to find work is to use recruitment agencies, social media sites such as LinkedIn, or make speculative applications.
Although some organisations, like the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), have their own graduate scheme in theatre management and administration, there is typically no single way into this specialism and you may consider making a sideways step from a job in hospitality, PR, marketing or arts administration.
To find graduate roles, search graduate jobs in hospitality and event management.