You look outside the windows of the hotel to see waves crashing against the shore….
When you look outside, you want to see mountain tops covered in snow.
You know what? You don’t have to decide right now where you’d like to see yourself in a few years.
You’ve already made the really important decision to learn English. So now you’re one step closer to wherever you choose to live and work, whether that be an exotic beach or a luxurious ski resort.
And a career in hotel management could take you there.
English is widely spoken among the staff and guests in hotels, whether they’re in the US or anywhere else in the world. Thus, good English language skills are required for a career in hotel management.
This is your ultimate guide to learning English for hotel management and will definitely put you at the top of your game!
You’re the Boss! Learn English for Hotel Management
A Quick Look at Resources for Learning English for Hotel Management
As we progress through the ins and outs of a hotel, we’re going to mention several resources that’ll help you learn specific vocabulary and skills. Let’s take a minute to highlight these:
- Coursera is a platform that offers courses that let you learn at your own pace (as fast or slow as you want). You can complete courses as they take place, or just look over the material when they’re over. Each course has instructional videos, followed by quizzes and exercises you can take to make sure you understood the materials. There are a few peer-rated (graded by your fellow students) assignments, so it’s a good place to exchange information with other students who are learning just like you.
- EdX allows you to earn academic credit through Arizona State University. Some of the courses have certificates you can get for completing them. Not all courses are free, so make sure you check the details before you sign up! Like most other MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), classes here are similar to college courses and some take a few weeks to complete. A certain number of hours is needed each week to learn all the material. You can learn along with the class or read through a course after it’s complete (though you won’t get to talk to others about it if you choose to do that!).
- FluentU is an online immersion platform that takes real-world videos and turns them into personalized English lessons. That means you’ll have access to a ton of videos where you can hear the vocabulary you need in context. FluentU isn’t just watching videos—it’s about learning and actively practicing the language you hear in videos. Use the interactive subtitles, flashcards and vocabulary lists to learn English phrases better than ever!
- Alison stands for Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online and was created in 2007 with the purpose of helping people to gain basic education and workplace skills. According to its website, Alison is the world’s leading provider of online free courses with certificates, with over 5 million users and over 600 courses.
These are just a few examples of the great resources that are out there to help you on your journey to becoming an awesome hotel manager. Now that you’re familiar with them, we’ll get started with an overview of how a hotel works.
Understanding the Ins and Outs of a Hotel
As you begin to build your hotel vocabulary, you’ll need to know the specific terms that go along with the different departments. Let’s begin with a general overview of these areas in a hotel and some of the required tasks that correspond to each one, as well as resources to build your vocabulary and be successful as a hotel manager.
The employees at the front desk deal with guests when they check in and check out. Managing a hotel’s front office means making sure that rooms are ready when guests arrive. You achieve that through collaborating with (working together with) the housekeeping, reservation and food and beverage departments (which are all described below).
The front office is usually the first contact with a guest, so you want to make a good impression with the use of formal, polite and business-like English. This particular style can be learned from business English courses, many of which are available through the companies we mentioned above (Coursera, EdX, etc.).
Here are some examples of free courses you can find:
- Business English: Basics
- Speak English Professionally: In Person, Online & On the Phone
- Business English for Cross-cultural Communication
- Introduction to Business and Travel English Language Skills
Housekeeping staff clean and prepare rooms so that they’re ready for the coming guests. Managing a hotel’s housekeeping department involves scheduling staff for various shifts and managing cleaning equipment as well as supplies.
You can start with FluentU’s premium content “Hotel Housekeeping Essential Vocabulary” to learn the words and phrases needed for managing a housekeeping team.
Though online booking is getting more and more common, reservation staff still receive occasional bookings by phone. Managing a reservation department involves updating the bookings with related departments in a timely manner.
FluentU’s videos like “English in a Hotel” provide you with example situations, from which you can gather words and phrases, for example, to take a reservation. You’ll find it useful to practice listening to various dialects to be able to understand guests from all different language backgrounds over the phone.
Food & Beverage
The staff from this department, more often known as F&B, take care of a hotel’s restaurants, bars and in-room dining. F&B managers are responsible for food supplies, customer complaints and the working schedule for wait staff as well as chefs and kitchen assistants.
You can learn from FluentU videos about real-world hotel restaurants like in “Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester.” Alternatively, you might find the video series about restaurants on FluentU English’s YouTube channel useful.
Sales & Marketing
The sales and marketing department is for promoting and selling the hotel services as well as building the brand awareness. Managing this department involves creating a marketing strategy, making sales plans and influencing people.
You will need to speak English eloquently, be able to tell engaging stories and persuade corporate and individual clients that your service is the best. You can learn the necessary language skills from business English courses specializing in marketing and sales like this one from Coursera or from the most accessible marketing material of big hotels: their website.
Event & Banqueting
This department is in charge of catering conferences, exhibitions, weddings and similar events. A manager in this department often works with other areas of the hotel, including F&B and sales and marketing. They’ll also be the primary contacts with your corporate clients. Thus, an advanced level of English speaking is an absolute must.
If this is something you want to focus on, you might consider the course English as a Foreign Language with Events Management. (Which also offers a bachelor’s degree in this specialization.)
Finance & Purchasing
This department deals with financial matters, including monthly payrolls and obtaining goods and services used in the hotel. Besides basic financial terms, a finance and purchasing manager will need to be familiar with various jobs at the hotel as well as the goods and services needed to run a hotel smoothly.
Engineering & Security
Depending on each individual hotel, this can be one or two separate departments. Managing the department means taking care of maintenance and the safety of the properties, its staff and guests.
Here is a list of vocabulary words describing a hotel’s interior, main features and structures, which are all essential for maintaining and securing the property.
This department takes care of personnel matters and managing this department involves direct contacts with all the staff who could be temporary, part-time or long-term full-time and who often come from many different backgrounds and nationalities.
You can learn essential skills to communicate with employees from different cultures in communication courses taught in English, such as Intercultural Communication and Conflict Resolution. FluentU’s premium content “Hotel English Vocabulary” is also a useful resource.
Common Usage of English in Hotel Management
Though the nature of work in each department varies, a hotel, as a whole, is a customer-facing environment (meaning you deal with customers face-to-face). Consequently, hotel English is different from everyday English. In the following sections, you’ll find the most common situations in a hotel and recommendations for the suitable English usage.
Requests for Information
When getting information from guests, formal English is often a better choice than informal English. Here are some examples:
Formal: Could I please see a copy of your passport?
Informal: Passport, please.
Formal: Would you like breakfast in the morning?
Informal: Do you want breakfast in the morning?
Formal: What is the best number to reach you?
Informal: What’s your phone number?
Formal: Is there anything else I could assist you with?
Informal: Do you want anything else?
People from certain countries, such as the US, might prefer more casual conversations. You might also find some business travelers from countries like China or Japan prefer a more formal tone. But don’t make assumptions! You can never be sure of a guest’s preferences, so it’s better to use the polite forms for initial contacts. This means could instead of can and would you like instead of do you want. Learn some ways to polish your English and make it more formal and professional here.
Dealing with Requests and Complaints
When dealing with requests and complaints, it’s important to stay polite (even if the guests aren’t!) and helpful. You want to show empathy (understanding, or imagining yourself in someone else’s place) if a guest has a problem and demonstrate that you take their complaints seriously. The English you use should be clear and sympathetic.
Use time adverbs like immediately, definitely and right away to show that you understand if something is a matter of urgency.
The use of I shows personal responsibility. You promise a guest that their need will be met. Using phrases like, “I am sorry,” or “I apologize for the inconvenience,” show your guests that you’re sympathetic to their needs.
In the following examples, which response do you think is better?
Situation 1: A guest asks for direction to the nearest train station.
- Option 1: When you get out of the hotel, turn left, then left again. You’ll find the train station on your right. Also, here’s a map that you’re welcome to take with you.
- Option 2: Turn left twice, then the train station is on the right.
Situation 2: A guest complaints about the noise at night
- Option 1: I’m sorry to hear that the noise kept you awake. Would you like to move to another room? I’ll check with the system right now to see if we have any other rooms ready.
- Option 2: You can move to another room. A manager will contact you later after she checks the availability.
If you’re a guest, which reaction would you prefer? Even if the meanings are exactly the same, one option will, more than likely, lessen the irritation of the guest and make them want to return to your hotel (that’s ultimately what you want, right?).
Selling Products and Services Effectively
Sometimes you’ll need to actively sell the hotel’s services, be it the room, the food or the conference space. Sales is an art, not a science, so there are no fixed rules. However, a sales person often uses personal and powerful language, and a good salesman knows his products well.
Here are some examples of a good sales pitch:
Would you like some dessert? We have lemon cheesecake, chocolate brownie and ice cream. The brownie is amazing, very rich and moist. It’s my favorite, actually.
We have five conference rooms, hosting from 200 to 1,000 guests depending on what you have in mind. Our state-of-the-art projectors and lighting system are easy to use and, of course, we are happy to assist you with the operation if needed….
The salespeople giving these pitches seem knowledgeable about the services provided and offer descriptions that create an image in the mind of their customers that make them want to purchase whatever they’re selling.
Making Small Talk Naturally
Even though polite, formal English is the rule of thumb, there will be times when you need small talk. Small talk are those little chats you have when just meeting a new individual, ending a discussion or during those awkward silences. Normally, when someone walks up to the front desk of a hotel, it’s more polite to begin with a casual conversation starter. Learning English for hotel management means equipping yourself with conversational questions and, more importantly, the ability to pick the right moments to ask those questions.
A few ways to start a casual conversation:
Did you have a pleasant trip?
Did you have a good night’s sleep?
Did you have a good day in the city?
Did you find the bus station all right this morning?
How did you like the city?
How was breakfast this morning?
Find other topics to start small talk here.
3 Extra Tips to Prepare Your English for a Career in Hotel Management
Online English courses, videos and vocabulary lists are helpful, but you also need practical information. Here are three extra tips to learn English for hotel management.
Pick Up Hospitality Terms from Websites of International Hotel Chains
The language in the hospitality industry is full of jargon like F&B, Banqueting, Purchasing, Task Force… just to name a few. They’re not often found in standard dictionaries, but crawl all over hotel websites. Visit these websites and familiarize yourself with all the special terms. You can start with the four biggest hotel chains in the world:
Learn from TV Shows and Movies That Take Place in Hotels
You can enjoy a good screening while learning about situations which are similar to ones you will find yourself in as a hotel employee or manager. Here are some good ones to check out:
- “Fawlty Towers”
- “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
- “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
- “Maid in Manhattan”
Get as Much Customer Service Experience as You Can
Before you can manage a team, you need to know what each team member does. Better yet, do the job yourself. You can apply for a part-time job in restaurants, cafes, hostels, etc. Alternatively, volunteer at big international events, such as music festivals, education fairs and conferences.
You can learn English for hotel management from a variety of resources, be it real-life videos or movies, online English courses or the website of international hotel chains. However, it’s always useful to learn about the different operations that occur in a hotel as well as the common situations of English usage. I hope this guide, and perhaps some customer service working experience, will prepare you for an exciting job in the hospitality industry.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.