Hospitality: A New Look at an Established Industry

By Campbell, Steven | Diversity Employers, February 1999 | Go to article overview
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Hospitality: A New Look at an Established Industry


Campbell, Steven, Diversity Employers


In the United States, the hospitality industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and, on an international level, a multi-trillion dollar a year industry employing millions of citizens directly and indirectly. As of 1998, industry analysts predicted that the food service segment of the industry alone would generate revenues of $336.4 billion in sales or have an increase of 4.7% above the 1997 sales of $321.28 billion. Food-service sales for 1999 are projected to reach $371.6 billion, a 2.5% increase over 1998.

Projected Sales

The industry is divided into the following areas: lodging, food service, institutional facilities, and travel and recreation. The lodging and food services are often intertwined with the travel and recreational segments of the industry. A point often debated by industry officials is which division is most prevalent. This writer thinks that the lodging and food services are the dominant areas.

Table 1

             Real      Nominal     Dollar Amount
Year        Change     Change       in Billions

1990         1.9%       6.5%          $253.72
1991        -0.20%      3.00%         $261.46
1992         1.10%      3.10%         $269.50
1993         1.90%      3.70%         $279.55
1994         2.70%      4.50%         $292.05
1995         1.80%      4.10%         $303.99
1996         1.90%      4.40%         $317.31
1997         2.10%      5.00%         $321.28
1998         2.70%      2.50%         $336.40
1999(*)      2.50%      5.60%         $371.60

Workers in the industry often refer to these services as the "front of the house" and the "back of the house." The "front of the house" consists of the jobs that allow the workers to interact directly with the guests. Positions in this area include the general manager, concierge, sales/marketing director, Workers in the "back of the house" include the executive chef, chief of security, and controller. These jobs are very important even though these employees do not have direct contact with the guests. They do, however ensure the success of the establishment.

According to Jason Wallace, president of Black Culinarians, New York City, N.Y., "Our ancestors were the original hospitality workers. Any person, especially an African American: who is willing to put in long hours and to work hard can assure himself/herself of life -long employment in a profession that is honorable."

On the Basis of statistics provided by the United States Departments of Commerce and Labor; the "service" industry, of which the hospitality industry is a branch, predicts that of the newly-created positions in private industry between now and the turn of the century, nine of every 10 will relate to the hospitality/service industry. In addition, data indicate that 75-80% of first-time employees entering the workforce will originate from historically excluded or "protected class" applicants such as women, minorities, and immigrants. The tourism industry, for example, is one of the three largest employers in more than one-half of the states in this nation and the largest in several foreign countries. Nationwide, tourism is responsible for employing six million citizens with an estimated payroll of $90 billion.

Dr. Charles Monagan, coordinator of Hospitality and Tourism, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, states "the window of opportunity is good for a student seeking upper-level managerial positions. We, being African Americans, don't realize the potential for us in the hospitality industry. If one is a fast mover, he/she can move up to the general manager position quickly."

Mid-ninety statistics reported the United States was the world leader in generating receipts from the international tourism trade. The United States had a $25 billion trade tourism surplus, twice as much as second-place France. During the mid-90s, nearly 45 million visitors came to the United States and spent an estimated $74 billion on tourism services.

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