Question Elaine Business & Management

Characteristics of the Hospitality Industry

How can I describe the hospitality industry and the workforce in it?

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Answer Expert #26342

The hospitality industry is a broad ranging industry and may be seen as part of the broader services industry (Dredge, Airey and Gross, 2014). The industry includes a wide range of services, including lodging, catering, and events management (Dredge et al., 2014). Mullins (2001) emphasises the cross-over with other services, where hospitality elements are incorporated as part of the larger service offering, such as education with the provision of catering services. A key characteristic of the industry is its’ high reliance on disposable income levels (Reece, 2009). The industry may be divided into two main segments; leisure and business users (Mullins, 2001). The dominant leisure segment is the most sensitive to economic changes (Reece, 2009). This means the industry is disproportionately impacted by changes in economic conditions, which can significantly influence employment levels within the sector.

Just as the industry is diverse, the knowledge, skills and other characteristics of the employees are equally varied. The hospitality industry in the UK is made up of more than 180,000 businesses, employing 4.49 million people, making it the 4th largest employer (BHA, 2016). This requires many different professionals, including leaders and senior managers for multinational corporations, as well as professional services such as accountants and legal professionals to support operations (Jones, 2002). In addition there are operational staff, made up of professional, skilled and non-skilled positions. The industry is known for low wages at lower levels of the hierarchies, approximately 53% of all workers are part time, and 45% of all staff are under 30 years, compared to 27% for the UK average (Tourism Alliance, 2016). Notability, the industry is also an incubator for entrepreneurs, 24,000 new businesses were started in 2014 (Tourism Alliance, 2016). Therefore, this is a very broad industry employing an extremely diverse workforce.


BHA, 2016. British Hospitality Association. [online] Retrived 28th October 2014 from: .

Dredge, D., Airey, D., and Gross, M., 2014. The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Hospitality Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Jones, P., 2002. Introduction to Hospitality Operations: An Indispensable Guide to the Industry. London: Cengage Learning EMEA.

Mullins, L., 2001. Hospitality Management and Organisational Behaviour. London: Longman.

Reece, W.S., 2009. The Economics of Tourism. Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Tourism Alliance, 2016. UK Tourism Statistics. [online] Retrived 28th October 2014 from: .