Definitive Guide: What Is the Hospitality Industry?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The hospitality industry offers many satisfying careers for professionals who enjoy serving customers. Whether you enjoy cooking, planning events or being a manager, there could be the ideal career for you in the hospitality industry. If you're thinking of pursuing a career in the hospitality field, it might benefit you to learn more about this industry and the types of professions you can consider. In this article, we discuss what the hospitality industry is by explaining the various sectors in this industry and listing steps to start your career in this field.

What is the hospitality industry?

The hospitality industry is a career field that relates to serving customers. There are several sectors of the hospitality industry, such as food, lodging and entertainment. While these fields are different, they often overlap in their duties and goals. For example, entertainment may also include food and lodging arrangements. Regardless of which field you enter, the hospitality industry's primary goal is providing quality service to guests. Hospitality itself entails how an employee of a company interacts with customers. Hosts try to make the guests happy so they become repeat customers or promote others to use their business.

Related: Hospitality Benchmarks: Definition, Advantages and Tips

Types of hospitality industry fields

Here are some of the most common fields you can pursue in the hospitality industry:

Food and beverage

The food and beverage field is one of the largest segments of the hospitality industry. This is because food and beverage companies, such as restaurants and bars, often intersect in other hospitality fields. For example, you can usually find restaurants or bars in places like hotels, resorts, cruises or other entertainment establishments. The food and beverage field can range from cafes to high-end restaurants. Careers in this industry include restaurant managers, chefs, bartenders and caterers.


Tourism is another large sector of the hospitality industry, as it includes all aspects of the travel industry. This field often involves planning a trip, such as scheduling travel and lodging arrangements, to managing the food and activities for clients who are traveling. The main component of this sector is getting to and from various locations. For instance, transportation via trains, planes, buses or rental cars is all a part of tourism. While some might equate this sector to vacation and fun, travel and tourism can also include plans for formal travel, such as business trips.


Lodging refers to any place travelers stay during their trips, whether it's a luxurious resort or small campground. Within this field, you might help clients find lodging accommodations in the location they're staying at for the correct dates. Conversely, this part of the hospitality industry might involve working at a hotel or other lodge. For example, you could be a hotel, resort or spa manager. If you're in a managerial position at a lodge, you help guests directly by checking them into their rooms or resolving their issues.

Related: Working in a Hotel: Pros and Cons To Consider


The entertainment sector is how guests stay busy during their trips. Most vacations revolve around the activities guests want to pursue while on their trip. If you specialize in this field, you might manage your own activities or you could ensure that your company, such as a cruise or a resort, has plenty of entertainment options for your guests. Some common activities on vacations include bars, clubs, shows, pools or casinos.


While the hospitality industry may seem to mostly entail managing food and vacations, another prominent sector is meetings and events. This field typically involves social and business events, along with sporting events. Weddings are another large element of this subsection in the hospitality industry. In this field, you might own a venue to host large events. For example, you could manage a convention center that groups or businesses can rent for their events or meetings.

Related: 7 of the Highest-Paying Hospitality Jobs

How to start a career in the hospitality industry

Consider these four steps to start a career in the hospitality industry:

1. Pursue an education

While you may already have a degree in a different area of study, it can be beneficial to pursue an education in hospitality. For example, if you're changing your career, taking classes in hospitality can give you the knowledge and experience required for this industry. Thankfully, there are several degree options in this field that you can pursue. You can earn an associate, bachelor's or master's degree in hospitality management.

2. Choose a specialty

Since there are several fields within the hospitality industry, it's important that you choose a specialty. It might be easier for you to start your career in hospitality if you narrow your job search. To choose a specialty, try to determine your interests. Ask yourself if you're passionate about food, traveling, lodging, entertainment or events. You may find that your interests align with one or more fields within the hospitality industry. From there, you can select some careers that match your specialty.

3. Develop your skills

Once you know what type of career or specialty you'd like to pursue in hospitality, you can start developing your skills. Most professions in this industry involve skills like customer service, communication and professionalism. You can develop these skills through classes, workshops or conferences. As you gain more experience, you naturally improve on these abilities as well.

Read more: 9 Key Skills for a Hospitality Career

4. Consider certification

You can improve your credentials in hospitality management through certifications. Certificates and licenses are beneficial ways to learn about a specific topic in a short period of time. Some hospitality certificates include Certified Hospitality Revenue Manager (CHRM), Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS) and Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA). You can also obtain various certificates depending on your specialty. For example, you could get a food or beverage certificate. Several of these credentials are available online or through in-person programs.

Please note that none of the certifications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.


Explore more articles