What are soft skills and how can they help in hospitality?

You might have heard about soft skills and how they are vital in hospitality, but what exactly does that mean? How can soft skills help make sure that you do well in the hospitality industry?

In this article, we’ll discuss what soft skills are, as well as the top soft skills that can help benefit you as a hospitality professional. We’ll also go over how you can learn these important skills to improve your job prospects in the industry with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management.


How Soft Skills Work

Soft skills are very important, but they can be hard to measure because there aren’t many tests or qualifications that you can take for soft skills. Many soft skills involve interacting with people or are traits that we can build in ourselves with personal development. Plus, different people will value different skills, including things that you have quite possibly never thought of as skills. 

While this might make it hard to define soft skills, this also means that a lot of soft skills are transferable between different workplaces, education courses, and even your personal life. Building your soft skills can be great in hospitality careers and other jobs, as well as in many other areas of your life. Plus, having good soft skills can help your career progression. For example, one of the most important soft skills is communication. Having strong communication skills will help you in workplaces, during hobbies, and even in relationships.

Types of Soft Skills

While it’s hard to define soft skills, there are some general categories that they can fall under. These include:

  • Personality traits – This includes the way you look at things and the way you process things. Everyone is different in this regard, but there are always personality traits you can turn into soft skills to improve the way you work. Usually, these will be traits that you have developed since you were young and are an integral part of who you are.
  • Behaviors – You might think that these can’t be learned, but they absolutely can. It’s easy to reframe how you look at things and improve how you approach tasks, people, and more. This can include how you handle stress, how well you adjust to new situations, or how quickly you can think on your feet.
  • Interpersonal skills – This is about how you deal with people, including your emotional intelligence, how personable you are, and how you communicate with others, including co-workers, members of the public, and others.
  • Organizational skills – Organization is vital to make sure that you get your work done smoothly and efficiently. This can include a lot of different skills, such as managing your time, managing your workload, and keeping on top of paperwork, which is something that needs to be handled in every industry. Organizational skills are useful for every part of your life, not just work.


Why soft skills are vital in hospitality

Hospitality is all about dealing with people and helping make sure that they have a good time when they are at the hotel, resort, restaurant, or other hospitality business that you work in. With this, a big focus is placed on the people you will be dealing with, so it’s no wonder that soft skills are vital, especially interpersonal skills and personality traits that you can nurture. You’ll also find that skills such as great organization can help you keep on top of your workload and make sure that you are dealing with tasks in the right order.

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Soft skills in hospitality management


Management-level roles such as hotel management might seem more removed from customers, but there are still plenty of times that you need soft skills for interacting with members of the public, handling complaints, and dealing with special requests. You will also need to have good experience in time management, team management, and other soft skills to help you make sure that the establishment runs smoothly. Potential employers will want to see that you have great social skills, critical thinking, time management skills, and more.


Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

As well as soft skills, you have probably heard of hard skills that are valued in jobs, including hospitality roles and hospitality management. Hard skills and soft skills are all great for your job prospects, but there are some differences between them:

Soft Skills

Hard Skills

Transferable skills – Skills like communication are needed in every field

Less transferable – For example, a biology degree is only useful in biology jobs

Hard to measure – There aren’t many exams or qualifications in soft skills, though some soft business skills do have qualifications.

Easily measured – Most hard skills are measurable skills and have specific exams and qualifications, such as a language proficiency level

People-focused– Soft skills mostly involve how to deal with people, whether they are team members, customers, or other members of the public

Task-focused – Hard skills are all about how to complete a specific task with certain skills, for example knowing how to cook

Remember though, both hard and soft skills are important, and while hospitality benefits a lot from soft skills, you will also find some hard skills that are essential to have a successful career in the hospitality industry.

Valuable hard skills for employees

There are plenty of hard skills that you can learn to help you get along in the hospitality industry. This includes things such as specific computer systems or programs that you might need to use in the day-to-day duties of your role, which could be anything from timesheet software to databases. Hospitality also needs hard skills such as cooking, cleaning and maintenance, and even if you are looking at studying hospitality management you should still have a good awareness of these hard skills and what they entail. This will help you better plan out the teams working under you with realistic timeframes and with better efficiency.

Valuable soft skills for employees

We’ve already noted that soft skills are transferable and you’ll probably find a use for almost all soft skills in hospitality. We’ll go over some of the key soft skills below, but some additional soft skills that you should focus on developing are:

  • Emotional intelligence – How well you recognize, assess and manage emotions in yourself and others — both in terms of customers and team members.
  • Staying calm in a crisis – If there’s any industry where you need to know how to manage a crisis, it’s hospitality. Staying calm rather than panicking in difficult situations is vital in this fast-paced industry.
  • Having a positive attitude – Whether it’s dealing with customers or team members, staying cheerful and positive goes a long way towards making sure that everything goes smoothly.


Examples of key soft skills for hospitality

Some soft skills are truly vital in the hospitality industry and are worth paying particular attention to. These include:


It is imperative to have good communication in the hospitality industry. If you think of any establishment as a big machine, you need to make sure you communicate well with all the component parts of the machine. You’ll need to communicate well with customers too, in order to ensure they have a great experience. This includes soft skills in both written and verbal communication.

Problem-solving skills

Problems will always crop up in hospitality. People or deliveries are late, customers have issues or something breaks. It’s vital to know how to assess a problem and fix it as quickly as possible. This means having to think quickly and see the possible solutions to a problem at short notice.


Creativity is an underrated skill, but it is what helps us see new and better ways to handle things. If you are creative you can figure out the best way to approach anything and it can help inspire your team members.


Adapting to new situations is vital. Hospitality never stays the same for long, and you will be required to change your work style to suit the current needs of the role.

Work ethic

Having a good work ethic is important, especially considering that in hospitality you may have to work long hours during busy periods, or deal with unusual requests from customers. Work ethic is essential to keep going and make sure that your hospitality facility is loved by customers. It will inspire your team to keep working hard too, as you lead by example.

Other soft skills employers look out for

There are also a wide range of other skills employers want in hospitality, such as:

  • Listening skills
  • People skills
  • Teamwork
  • Organizational skills
  • Decision-making


How to learn soft skills

Soft skills can be hard to learn by yourself compared to hard skills. It’s best to work on building these skills with others, such as during your hotel management hospitality degree. This can help you learn what marketable skills you need and practice them with other people, making sure that you get them right thanks to feedback from others. After that, it’s just a case of practice and self-assessment to see if you can improve anywhere.


Soft skills – summary

While soft skills used to be overlooked, they are vital for working in the hospitality industry. Soft skills include things like problem-solving, adaptability, and organization. These skills will help you throughout your entire career path. If you want to work on getting the right qualification and the right skills to help you get into hospitality management, check out our bachelor’s degree in hotel management to see how we can help you reach your potential.