7 times having a thick skin is necessary in the hospitality industry
While a career in the hospitality industry can be incredibly rewarding, it also takes a special type of personality to effectively deal with the constant pressure, difficult attitudes, necessary sacrifices and physical demands you will encounter every day. If your skin isn’t ‘thick enough’ to handle challenging situations like the ones described below, you may want to consider other employment opportunities.
1. An irate customer is screaming at you—again
The only thing her picky child will eat is ‘chicken fingers,’ but they have to be vegetarian, gluten and allergen free—and your menu only offers chicken fingers made of chicken, battered in flour and fried in peanut oil. They were promised a king bed and you put them in a room with a queen. He had to wait five minutes for his ‘dry martini’ and it isn’t dry enough. Her credit card was declined. This isn’t what grandpa ordered… you get the picture. Many customers are entitled and impatient, get upset easily, or are prone to ‘bad days’ which quickly become yours. And what do you have to do? Smile politely, apologize for situations that are not your fault and find creative ways to appease them.
2. You’ve burnt your hand/cut your finger/banged your head for the eleventh million time
Stoves are hot, knives are sharp, and it really hurts to bang your head on a bathroom sink (I speak from experience). Accidents and injuries can become everyday occurrences when you work in hospitality, especially when you’re exhausted at the end of a long shift or pulled in a dozen different directions in the middle of a busy one. While not all of these incidents are severe enough to require reporting, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows there were 3.5 recorded injury and illness cases per every 100 workers in the accommodations and food services sector in 2014.
3. Your feet feel like they are literally on fire, and your lower back pain is just fanning the flames
The majority of jobs available in hospitality require you to spend A LOT of time (like, entire shifts) on your feet. While the good news is that all this standing can help you stay trim and keep your heart healthy, the bad news is it can be hell on your feet—even if you’re willing to wear orthopedic old lady shoes. And that’s not all. Whether you’re cooking in the kitchen, serving in the dining room, maintaining the grounds, handling services at the front desk or cleaning the rooms, you’re also going to find yourself frequently bending, reaching and stooping as well as lifting and carrying 20 pounds or more.
4. The guest service line is 12 deep and your shift is technically over
You’ve been working hard for eight hours and it’s time to clock out and give your feet a break. But two busses from the airport just arrived with new guests, and a long line is forming quickly. Do you say “good luck” to your colleagues and walk away? Of course not. Instead, you remain at your post and put in 30 extra minutes for the third time this week. You’ll probably miss your own bus home, but at least the hotel will retain its reputation for efficient and painless check-ins.
5. Your boss denied your time off request so you have to miss your best friend’s bridal shower/wedding/baby shower
If you work in hospitality and have a Monday through Friday, 9-to-5 position, you’re the exception, not the rule. Most employees at hotels and restaurants work early mornings, late nights, weekends and holidays—at least occasionally. And it can be tough to get time off—particularly during ‘busy’ seasons or unpopular shifts. This means you have to resign yourself to missing some of life’s special occasions if you want to advance your career.
6. Your table of 10 just left—and they didn’t even bother to tip
Restaurant employees—especially those who work the front of the house—rely heavily on tips. Unfortunately, some customers just don’t care. And you have to treat them the same, whether they’re poor tippers or fail to tip at all. With luck, your next table will be extra generous and you’ll still wind up with a healthy average by the end of your shift. If uncertain earnings make you nervous, you may want to leave and find a new career elsewhere.
7. The grill cook just made his fifth offensive joke of the night
As the old saying goes, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen—only in this case, the heat is in the form of offensive jokes and raunchy comments. If you’re easily upset by less than politically correct humor, cry when yelled at, or expect to be treated with nothing but respect, you probably don’t have a thick enough skin to work in the hospitality industry.