What is hospitality? In many people’s minds, hospitality is strongly connected with leisure. The sector is far broader than this, however. For many organisations, day-to-day operations would be impossible without the support of some element of the hospitality sector. Whether you’re booking a hotel for your summer holiday, a conference suite for a business event, or a restaurant for a family reunion, you’ve interacted with the hospitality industry.

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Extra: How Has the Coronavirus Affected the Hospitality Sector?

What is Hospitality?

So, what is hospitality? The hospitality business is unique among other industries in both its breadth and pervasiveness throughout everyday life. From accommodation such as hotels and serviced apartments to catering and entertainment, to travel agents and cruise operators, hospitality plays an important role in both leisure and business. Most sectors are dominated by a very small number of firms — a handful of big names. Because hospitality is so varied, however, the number of well-known businesses involved is also impressively large, including international hotel and restaurant chains, travel operators and many, many more. In this article, you’ll find out more about the different sectors that make up this industry.

Defining the Hospitality

Despite its varied and multifarious character, the industry does have two main defining features. One is its reliance on leisure and luxury activities and services rather than basic physical needs, making it vulnerable during times when the economy is struggling. The other is its chief focus: customer satisfaction. You could certainly make the case that this is true for virtually any business — after all, without satisfaction, an organisation would quickly lose customers. That said, this particular sector is more heavily reliant than any other on customer satisfaction; because the sector is chiefly sustained by luxury and leisure-related activities, customer satisfaction goes from being a marketing tool to the main service on offer. Hospitality can be divided into three general sectors: accommodation, food and drink, and travel and tourism.

Hospitality: A Complete Overview of the Sectors

1: Accommodation

What is hospitality - Accomodation

Hospitality deals with providing places for people to stay. These range from basic lodgings intended for stays of one or two nights, such as a motel or youth hostel. These might offer facilities such as shared dormitories or small private rooms containing minimal furnishings. On the other end of the scale are establishments such as luxury hotels and resorts offering higher-end facilities, as well as serviced apartments which may be used for longer-term accommodation.

Bed and Breakfasts

The bed and breakfast or B&B is a fixture of the budget accommodation sector. As the name suggests, guests at a bed and breakfast receive lodgings in a shared or private room and at least one catered meal per day.


Hotels are a little higher up the scale than bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Rooms may be basic, with access to a shared bathroom; luxury hotels offer large suites. Some hotels offer extensive facilities and services, such as spas or gymnasia.


Motels focus on short-term lodgings, often aimed at those taking long journeys who need a place to break their trip for a night or two. Facilities tend to be basic and practical, although there are higher-end chains and “theme” motels have their fans.


Popular with younger guests and other budget travellers, hostels offer basic comforts in a convivial atmosphere. Lodgings may include private rooms but often focus on large shared dormitories furnished with multiple bunk beds. Hostels often emphasise the social element with group activities.


Resorts range from the humble campground and caravan park to luxurious hotel complexes catering to guests’ every need. The difference between a hotel and a resort is the greater availability of external facilities such as recreation areas, private beaches, parks and so on.

Serviced apartments

A serviced apartment gives guests the comforts of home without having to worry about cleaning and caretaking. It is a full-sized apartment intended for longer stays but administered like a hotel room, with laundry, room service etc. provided for the guest.


In a timeshare arrangement, you pay for the exclusive use of a particular apartment or other lodging but only for part of the year. Time-sharing can be an economical solution for those who wish to stay at the same place every year.

2: Food and drink

What is hospitality - Food and beverage

The food and drink sector of the hospitality industry includes places serving fast food at modest prices to sophisticated restaurants. Pubs, wine and cocktail bars are also part of this sector. Entertainment establishments are often involved in providing food and drink. In some cases (such as in the case of a nightclub) food or drink is a major part of the entertainment on offer, while in others (for example in the case of a cinema) food and drink are additions.


Restaurants are among the most obvious examples of the sector. They serve food of varying quality, with a focus on dining rather than providing snacks. Some restaurants may also serve alcoholic beverages, particularly wineñ their primary focus is food.


Catering involves the provision of food and drinks at premises other than a restaurant or other eaterie. This might be the client’s home, workplace or other venue such as a meeting hall or conference centre. Catering ranges from simple sandwiches to banquets.

Bars & Cafés

Bars focus primarily on providing drinks in a social setting. They may also offer light meals and entertainment such as televised sports or live music or comedy. Cafés provide light meals and hot or cold beverages, typically but not always non-alcoholic.


Nightclubs focus more heavily on entertainment and social engagement than bars or cafés. Music is typically provided by a DJ but live acts may also perform and there may be other entertainments as well. Nightclubs typically serve minimal or no food, focusing on drinks.

Tea and coffee shops

Tea and coffee shops focus on providing hot beverages, often in a quiet and refined setting. They tend to attract a more mature customer base. As well as tea, coffee and other drinks, tea and coffee shops may offer snacks such as pastries.

3: Travel and Tourism

What is hospitality - Travel and tourism

The travel and tourism sector includes businesses that arrange transport and activities for travellers. This includes everyone from tour operators dealing largely with those who travel for leisure, to airlines and vehicle rental specialists who serve both leisure and business clients. In previous eras, these would have been primarily bricks-and-mortar firms; however, in the digital age, more travel is arranged online and new business models have evolved in response to this.

Travel agents

Travel agents arrange transport and accommodation for travellers. They are specialist consultants who work with individual clients to tailor a suitable package, which may include lodgings, activities such as tours, and travel arrangements such as plane tickets.

Tour operators

Tour operators specialise in arranging tours for their clients. This includes liaising with venue operators, tour guides and other key organisations and individuals. Tour operators are not usually involved directly with giving tours — this is the job of a tour guide.

Online travel agencies (OTA’s)

Playing an increasingly large role in the travel and tourism sector, OTAs perform many of the services offered by a traditional travel agency via a web-based platform. Their lower overheads and greater agility allow them to offer competitive prices for their clients.


Cruises combine both transport and accommodation. The purpose of a cruise is to provide a luxury hotel experience while afloat, combined with travel to exotic and interesting destinations. Cruises offer activities both onboard and on lands, such as games and musical productions.

Car rental

Car and vehicle rental is an important hospitality sector both for leisure and business. Vehicles range from chauffeur-driven luxury limousines to budget self-drive options. Rentals may be required for as little as an hour or two or for extended periods of weeks or months.


Casinos can be exciting destinations, offering games of chance and other entertainments. Casinos may offer automated slot machines and video games; they may also include more traditional gaming experiences such as card games or roulette. Many also offer food and accommodation.

Video: What is Hospitality?

The video below provides more information about Hospitality.


Top Hospitality Trends

Any business that’s involved in hospitality must know the importance of keeping up with the sector’s emerging trends. In order to avoid disappointing customers and falling behind competitors, you need to keep your pulse on the constantly changing trends that are happening in the wider industry. In the article “Hospitality Trends: The Latest Trends in The Hospitality Industry” you will learn about the important changes that’ll be making an impact in this sector.

The Must-know Hospitality Marketing Trends

Hospitality marketing can be used for a number of purposes, but its main goal is to increase profits for businesses. To stay one step ahead of your competitors, and gain maximum exposure online, you must consider using the right digital marketing tools in your hospitality business. This can be done by studying online users’ behaviour when they search for holiday accommodation and creating the most effective strategy based on customers’ needs. To give you a better idea, in the article “Latest Hospitality Marketing Trends” you will find the latest hospitality marketing trends.

The Latest Hospitality Technology Trends

Technology is rapidly changing the way businesses operate across sectors and within hospitality, there is no difference. In an industry where customer expectations are high, the use of technology can overcome this challenge. After all, technology for hotel guests means an easier and more convenient experience as they can control the heating in the room and open curtains with their smartphones. This is the reason why keeping up with emerging technology trends is essential. In the article “The Latest Technology Trends in the Hospitality Industry” you will find the latest technology trends that hospitality businesses should be aware of.

Why Revenue Management is Important Within the Hospitality

Revenue management within hotels and in the hospitality, in general, has been given a new lease of life in the last few years. The primary goal of this concept aims to provide the right service or product to the right customer at the right price. For instance, have you ever booked the same hotel at different months of the year only to find that the room prices differ significantly? This is due to the fact that hotels never set a fixed price for their rooms in order to keep up with customer demand. Everything you need to know about the importance of revenue management can be found in this article, ‘Revenue Management; clearly explained!’.

Increase Bookings By Connecting With Travel Agencies

Travel agencies provide a valuable service for customers and hospitality companies alike. For customers, they offer convenience and expert help, while for travel companies, they are able to generate incremental bookings. Although a commission fee will need to be paid for these bookings, they can help to optimise distribution and revenue.

In the article “Increase Bookings By Connecting With Travel Agencies”, you will be able to learn more about travel agencies that specialise in particular parts of the hospitality and find the best travel agency platforms to connect to.

Everything to Know About Hospitality Management

When it comes to receiving a service, customers are no longer satisfied with just a thank you and a smile from their hosts. Proper etiquette isn’t enough to win them over. What your customers are looking for nowadays is an unforgettable experience. To succeed in hospitality management, you must keep your guests happy and engaged in order to prosper. The article, ‘Hospitality Management: The Essentials About Hospitality’, explains how you can start a successful career in hospitality management.

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Hospitality Careers and a Break Down of Job Roles

Within the field of hospitality, there are a number of unique job roles to choose from. Whether you are interested in serving customers in a restaurant, preparing food or drinks, managing a hotel, or optimising revenue for a hospitality business, it is crucial to have an understanding of what these hospitality careers actually involve.

The article “Hospitality Careers and a Break Down of Job Roles” provides a list of the main positions that exist within the hospitality industry, complete with information on what those working in each job would be expected to do.

Overview of Channels for Finding Hospitality Jobs

Employers get the word out about hospitality jobs that have become available via a range of different channels, including company websites, job boards, social media and recruitment agencies. With this in mind, if you are looking for a job in hospitality, it is sensible to turn to a number of different channels too.

Read the “Overview of Channels for Finding Hospitality Jobs” article for detailed insight into the channels that are available, so that you can expand your job search and improve your chances of success.

10 Tips for Hospitality Management Careers

Senior and executive hospitality roles tend to have high requirements and you are likely to run into significant competition. Nevertheless, those with an interest in hospitality management careers can do a lot to improve their chances of success, from having the right foundations, to putting in the best possible application.

Read our article, “10 Tips for Hospitality Management Careers”, where you will find a list of 10 tips that can help you to improve your chances of landing your dream hospitality management role.

Finding Hospitality Management Jobs Through Hotel Websites

Hotels are major hospitality employers and for this reason, hotel websites serve as a useful channel for anyone seeking out hospitality management jobs. Of course, to actually explore this channel properly, you will need to have an awareness of some of these hotel industry employers, and it is sensible, to begin with the largest hotel chains.

In “Finding Hospitality Management Jobs Through Hotel Websites” you will find important information about some of the most popular hotel companies in the world so that you know where to look for job listings.

Job Boards Advertising Hospitality Manager Jobs

If you are seeking to become a hospitality manager, regardless of the precise area of hospitality you specialise in, you are going to need to have reliable channels to aid your job search. When it comes to actually pinpoint suitable vacancies and applying for jobs online, hospitality job boards can be one of the best options available.

Check out “Job Boards Advertising Hospitality Manager Jobs” for an overview of some of the most important job boards you can use to take your career in hospitality to the highest possible level.

What is Hospitality Education? An Overview of Hospitality Courses

One of the best ways to fully get to grips with the answer to the question ‘what is hospitality?’ is to take a hospitality course. This will help you to gain a deeper understanding of aspects of the industry, while also arming you with the kind of skills that may be needed to advance your career in the sector.

To find out more about the numerous hospitality courses on offer, what they can teach you and where you can actually find them, read the “Hospitality Course: An Overview of Courses & Hospitality Educators” article.

Free Tips on Revenue Management & Hotel Marketing Strategies

The big changes in the hotel industry and the constant evolution of digital marketing have resulted in a higher demand for a definitive guide to hotel marketing. There are many strategies that hotels can benefit from – if they are made aware of them. Marketing your business doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task as long as you choose the right channels. The ‘Free Guide: Revenue Management & Hotel Marketing Strategies’ will help hotel owners understand every aspect that goes into creating a successful hotel marketing and revenue management strategy.

So, now you “what is hospitality” :). As you can see, hospitality is a rich and varied world taking in many different types of business. While somewhat sensitive to the vagaries of the economy, hospitality is highly adaptive and fulfils important roles in the modern world.

How Has the Coronavirus Affected the Hospitality Sector?

The recent coronavirus outbreak has hit the hospitality sector particularly hard due to significant and unheard-of travel restrictions as well as nationwide lockdowns. It, therefore, comes as no great surprise that events such as the 2020 Olympics, the UEFA Euro and the ITB Berlin Travel Trade Show have been postponed indefinitely.

These very same scenarios are reverberating throughout the business community. As organisations curtail their operations and due to the fact that employees are concerned about job security, fewer trips are being planned. Of course, those who were hoping to book a holiday will be curtailing their plans for (at least) the immediate future.

Companies operating in the hospitality, like restaurants and hotels are therefore experiencing an unprecedented drop in occupancy rates; some as high as 90 per cent. This has even forced a handful to cease their operations entirely. The main issue is that lower revenue generation has been compounded with continued operational costs. Owners are therefore being forced to deal with an entirely unfamiliar situation in regards to obtaining the necessary level of cash flow in order to remain solvent in such volatile economic times.

In the category “Corona” you find a selection of tips which helps businesses operating in the hospitality and travel industry to recover and prepare for better times.

Want to Learn More About Related Industries?

The hospitality industry is part of the travel industry and the hotel industry is part of the hospitality industry. All of these industries have in common that they are large service industries in the world and increasingly important in the modern age. But what is the difference between the travel and tourism industry? In the following articles, you learn more about related industries.

More Tips to Grow Your Business

Revfine.com is a knowledge platform for the hospitality & travel industry. Professionals use our insights, strategies and actionable tips to get inspired, optimise revenue, innovate processes and improve customer experience. You can find all hotel & hospitality tips in the categories Revenue Management, Marketing & Distribution, Hotel Operations, Staffing & Career, Technology and Software.

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