What is the Hospitality Industry?
So, what is the Hospitality industry? First, it is important to define what we mean by the hospitality industry. After all, it is a broad field and while most people have a basic idea of the types of businesses that count as hospitality brands, a far smaller number are able to provide a coherent and satisfactory explanation of what the industry is, and what it is not.
Put simply, the hospitality industry refers to a variety of businesses and services linked to leisure and customer satisfaction. A defining aspect of the hospitality industry is also the fact that it focuses on ideas of luxury, pleasure, enjoyment and experiences, as opposed to catering for necessities and essentials.
The Difference Between the Hospitality Industry and the Travel Industry
The hospitality industry and the travel industry are closely connected, but there are also some subtle differences to be aware of. On a basic level, the travel or tourism industry is concerned with services for people who have travelled away from their usual place of residence, for a relatively short period of time.
By contrast, the hospitality industry is concerned with services related to leisure and customer satisfaction. This may well mean offering services to tourists, but it can also include the provision of services to people who are not tourists, such as locals enjoying their free time, or people coming to an area for reasons other than tourism.
Sectors Within the Hospitality Industry
The accommodation sector of the hospitality industry is concerned with providing customers with a place to stay, on a temporary basis. It is most commonly associated with the tourism industry, where people book holidays or trips and require lodgings, but the accommodation sector also caters to local people seeking a short break from their everyday routine, or those who require temporary accommodation for almost any other purpose.
Bed & Breakfasts
Bed & breakfasts, also known as B&Bs, are small establishments, which offer overnight stays and breakfast in the morning. Most B&Bs owners live in the property, while guests are provided with a private room and, in most cases, they will also have a private or en suite bathroom. However, bathroom facilities are sometimes shared.
Arguably the most obvious form of accommodation that falls within the hospitality industry, hotels cater to people who require overnight or longer-term stays. Aside from offering lodgings, they tend to provide various other services, including room service, housekeeping, and facilities for eating and drinking.
Motels are similar to hotels, but are specifically designed for use as overnight accommodation by motorists. With this in mind, they are generally situated at the roadside, and will have free car parking facilities. Unlike hotels, however, motels usually offer little in the way of additional services or amenities.
Hostels are a form of communal accommodation, where multiple guests will usually sleep in a shared room, with the guests effectively renting a bed. Bathroom and kitchen facilities are usually shared and hostels offer less privacy than hotels. Yet, they are usually significantly cheaper, making them a solid option for those with a low budget.
A resort is similar to a hotel, but it will provide a wider range of facilities and amenities. This means that guests are able to access sleeping facilities, food and drink facilities, entertainment facilities, shopping facilities and other amenities without needing to leave the resort. Many resorts also offer all-inclusive pricing.
Another form of accommodation that shares similarities with hotels, serviced apartments are self-contained units, which are supplied for either short-term or long-term stays. These apartments will typically be fully furnished, will contain a kitchen, and may include various hotel-like services, such ass laundry and cleaning.
Finally, time shared accommodation is a type of accommodation where ownership or usage rights are shared between multiple people. It may be a house, condo, or similar type of property and each owner will typically be allocated a particular time of the year where they will have right of use.
2) Food & Drinks
While food and drinks are necessities, most food and drinks services also fall under the hospitality industry umbrella, due to the fact that they offer people a way of spending their leisure time and disposable income, as well as an opportunity to socialise and enjoy an experience. Again, the food and drinks sector caters to a wide range of customers, including tourists, locals, ex-pats and passers-by.
Restaurants provide customers with food and drinks services, with the food either being eaten in the establishment, or taken away for consumption. This section of the hospitality industry includes fine dining restaurants, takeaway restaurants, fast food restaurants and a variety of other restaurant types.
Catering services are food services provided within a particular site, or in a more remote location, where food and drink are not necessarily the main service provided. Examples of this include catering provided at parks, arenas, stadiums, hotels, event venues and on certain forms of public transport.
Bars & Cafés
Bars and cafés provide customers with options to go out, socialise and enjoy food and drinks. They also tend to be a more casual option than most sit-in restaurants. Cafés generally focus on coffee, tea and light snacks, while bars tend to prioritise alcoholic drinks and soft drinks, and may also offer additional entertainment.
Nightclubs are one of the main ways the hospitality industry caters to people in search of night-time entertainment. They serve alcoholic drinks, are kept open until late, and often place an emphasis on both music and dancing. Many nightclubs have specific themes and they may cater for locals, as well as visitors or tourists.
Tea & Coffee Shops
Tea rooms and coffee shops provide a similar function to cafés, primarily serving varieties of tea and coffee, as the name suggests. With that being said, tea and coffee shops are often individual room within larger buildings, such as hotels, and they may also sell products to be taken away, such as tea bags and coffee beans.
3) Travel and Tourism
It is important to understand that the hospitality industry and the travel industry are closely linked. Many of the services that are classed as travel industry offerings are also hospitality offerings, because they are linked to leisure, customer satisfaction, pleasure, experiences and the use of disposable income. Importantly, the cross-over between the tourism industry and the hospitality industry centres on services, rather than end-products.
Essentially, travel agents serve to sell travel products to customers, on behalf of suppliers. They will often receive a commission for successful sales and can be a convenient option for inexperienced travellers, providing them with advice on the best travel products for their particular needs.
A tour operator offers a combination of travel and tour products, combining them into a package, which is then sold to customers. This might, for instance, include travel to a destination, transfers from a hotel or train station to a hotel, as well a number of trips, activities or experiences throughout the customer’s stay.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
Online travel agents, or OTAs, perform many of the same functions as traditional travel agents, albeit over the internet. However, the use of online platforms means customers often have access to a greater level of self-service, with the OTAs helping users to search for the travel products that best suit their requirements.
Cruises are voyages on cruise ships, undertaken for pleasure, rather than for the sole purpose of transportation. A cruise may have various stops along the way, but passengers will spend the vast majority of their time aboard the cruise ship, which will provide them with lodgings, entertainment, catering and more.
Car rental services cater to customers who require short-term access to a car. In many cases, these services are used by tourists travelling to other parts of the world, although some locals may also wish to rent a car, especially if they do not have regular access to one, or if they require a larger number of passenger seats.
Finally, a casino is an entertainment establishment, which provides customers with opportunities to gamble. These gambling opportunities are predominantly offered via luck-based games. In addition to the gambling component, many casinos also stage live performances, offer food and drinks, and are connected to hotels.