We need to inspire the next generation of hoteliers.

Peter Ricci

I’m an educator now, but having spent the bulk of my career working in hospitality—everything from sales to GM and then some—I still consider myself a “hotel guy.”  More recently I have become an educator at Florida Atlantic University (Go Owls!) teaching hospitality and tourism management.  This role has given me a unique vantage point to observe some of the industry's shifting dynamics like the perceptions of the young minds preparing to step into the workforce and hopefully into this brave new world of hospitality. 

The first point I’d like to make on this subject is, who better to lead the industry forward than the generation who values experience over everything else? The second point, we’re going to have to do a better job of educating these kids on the full range of opportunities if we are to have any hope of getting them to join our industry. We’ve got to make hospitality sexy. We’ve got to make it appealing to this next generation of professionals. 

How? I have some thoughts: 

1. Demystifying Sales and Marketing in Hospitality

Industry professionals must educate potential candidates about the dynamic nature of sales and marketing in hospitality, emphasizing the various creative aspects such as design and content creation, social media management, and relationship building.

2. Leveraging Influencer Culture

Today's youth are often drawn to the idea of becoming influencers or achieving fame on social media platforms like TikTok. This interest can be harnessed by illustrating how skills and passions related to influencing can be applied to the hospitality industry. People don’t want to go into sales but they would love to be an influencer, but isn’t an influencer just another name for a salesperson? Showcasing examples of creative marketing campaigns and personal branding can help potential candidates see the overlap between their interests and a career in hospitality sales and marketing.

3. Highlighting the Benefits of Hospitality Careers

Hospitality has long been perceived as a low-paying, vocational field. To change this, industry professionals should showcase the many potential career paths and opportunities available in the field. By highlighting examples of people who have found success in various roles, from operations to marketing to finance, potential candidates can see the versatility of a career in hospitality. 

4. Engaging with the Next Generation

One major issue in the industry is a lack of engagement between current professionals and young people. To bridge this gap, hoteliers and hospitality executives must actively engage with youth, sharing their passion for the industry and the many career opportunities it offers. This can be done through mentorship programs, school visits, and internships. I can’t overstate how impactful it is when I invite people in the industry to speak to my students.

As an industry, it’s our collective responsibility to create a narrative that truly reflects the dynamic nature of the hospitality industry. By doing so, we can ensure that the industry continues to thrive and that future professionals view it with the excitement it deserves. 

Peter Ricci