Find the Perfect Career in Tourism and Hospitality: 60+ English Words and Phrases to Get You Started
Hospitality and tourism are two of the fastest growing industries in the world.
There is a global need for thousands of professional people who can speak English and interact with international guests.
Can you be one of them?
Of course! All you need is to know the right English.
- Where a Career in Hospitality and Tourism Can Take You: Benefits of the Industry
- How to Begin a Career in Tourism and Hospitality
- 60+ English Words and Phrases You Need to Find a Job in Tourism and Hospitality
Where a Career in Hospitality and Tourism Can Take You: Benefits of the Industry
- Travel. This is the best part of this career. It is great for people who want to travel internationally. You can go anywhere in the world, and you will find hotels. You will see tourists. People are traveling everywhere now, which means that these jobs are also everywhere.
- A huge network of international friends, coworkers and customers. A “network” is all the people you are connected to personally and professionally. English is a great language to know for international tourism because it allows you to communicate with people from all over the world. This means that your network will constantly be growing. Knowing more people will help you understand the world better, and it will help you find new job opportunities in the future!
- A great future. This is a growing industry with many diverse jobs. If you start working in this industry, you will have many opportunities to learn more, meet people, change your job, travel to new places, learn new languages, get promotions and earn more money.
How to Begin a Career in Tourism and Hospitality
There is not one single way to start your career in this industry. There are many, many, many different jobs and careers in tourism and hospitality.
This means that every type of job will have different requirements. Generally, these requirements are:
- Education or certification — Some jobs require a high school or college degree. Other jobs require some kind of professional training or certification. For example, if you want to work as a chef for a hotel, they might want to see that you studied at a cooking school or earned a certificate for a course. If you want to work as a hotel manager, the hotel might want to see that you have a college degree in hotel management or business.
- Experience — To get started, you will find many jobs that do not require experience. If the job you really want requires experience, you should start by taking a more basic job to learn about the business and how it works. You will meet people and learn many things, as long as you are working in the tourism and hospitality industry. For example, if you really want to become a chef at a hotel and you don’t have any cooking experience, you could start by working as a waiter or something similar. This will give you experience in a hotel restaurant—and maybe you can even talk to the chef and ask her for advice!
- Language skills — If you are an employee who will see many tourists, then you will need more English than other employees. If you are the kind of employee who works alone and will not meet many tourists, then you will need fewer English skills.
Below, we will talk about all different types of jobs you can find to get started. You should take all of this useful vocabulary and search for jobs online or in your local newspaper! If you want to search online, then you should start by looking on websites like Indeed, Idealist and Monster. Search for the types of tourism and the various job titles that are listed below!
60+ English Words and Phrases You Need to Find a Job in Tourism and Hospitality
Types of Tourism
When you are applying for jobs in hospitality and tourism, you will notice that there are many kinds of tourism. You will need to know about the type of tourists that you want to work with. Keep in mind that you might meet all different kinds of tourists at certain locations.
- Domestic tourism — This is when people are traveling within their home country. For example, millions of Americans visit the Statue of Liberty every year, even though it is in their home country. Many Americans travel to Hawaii for vacation, and so they are tourists in their home country. What is the most popular tourist destination in your country?
- Inbound/outbound tourism — Inbound and outbound tourism both refer to when people are traveling internationally to engage in tourist activities.
- Sightseeing tourism — This is when people travel to see important landmarks, like famous buildings that were important to history, museums, statues and skyscrapers. They want to see everything that makes your city or country special and unique. They often want to see many, many things and learn a little bit of information about each one. They also love to take pictures at these destinations.
- Casual tourism — This refers to the most relaxed travelers. Casual tourists probably will not need or ask for much—just the basics. They may be camping or staying in hostels, just looking for the essentials to keep them clean and comfortable enough to go out and enjoy the country.
- Recreation tourism — Some people go on vacation to go swimming at a beautiful beach, or to play golf at a very popular and fun golf resort. They are part of recreation tourism, because they want to do fun activities and hobbies while they are traveling.
- Ecotourism or nature tourism — This is a very new and very cool type of tourism! People now travel to see places that have beautiful, natural environments to see. They also like to see projects that are related to agriculture, ecology, nature, wildlife, conservation and recycling. They want to know about the plants and animals in the region. They want to know about the rivers, lakes and mountains. Most importantly, they like to know how the local people use nature in their lives, and how they take care of nature. You can read more about ecotourism in this great introductory book.
- Cultural tourism — Many tourists travel to learn how other people around the world live. What is the local culture like? What are some traditions in local communities? What do local people believe in? What holidays do they celebrate? What typical foods do they eat? What music do they play? These are all questions that these kinds of tourists want to answer about the places they visit. Many destinations for cultural tourism now offer guided tours, where someone who lives in the community will take tourists to their town, or even into their home, and share lessons about the culture.
- Community tourism —This is very similar to cultural tourism, but a little different. Anyone interested in community tourism will want to see projects that communities are working on. What do people do together to make their lives better? Is there a strong local business? For example, these tourists would love to visit a community that makes and sells large quantities of fresh, organic cheese—and they would want to see where the cows live, how people milk the cows, how the milk becomes cheese, as well as how the cheese is packaged and sold.
- Volunteer tourism — This is an extremely popular form of tourism. Many high school and college students from North America, Europe and Australia like to travel abroad and volunteer. These volunteers might want to work in hospitals, orphanages, farms, animal shelters or with non-profit organizations (NGOs) that do projects to benefit local people. For example, the volunteer tourism program WWOOF has existed for a long time, and is a very popular way to find volunteer work (on organic farms) while traveling—you can visit their website to read more about what this type of tourism is like.
- Adventure tourism — Oh yeah! This is a really fun type of tourism. These tourists will want to do any exciting activity they possibly can. For example, they might like to go ride bicycles, go kayaking and rafting and hike huge mountains. However, working in adventure tourism can be a lot of hard work. Read this book about managing an adventure tourism business to learn more.
- Medical/health tourism — This is not a fun kind of tourism, usually. Often Americans cannot pay for expensive doctor or dentist visits in their home country. They might need to have a difficult operation, surgery or treatment, but they cannot afford it in America. So, they decide to travel to another country where this treatment is cheaper. If they do good research and speak the local language, this can sometimes be a good experience with a good outcome. Sometimes this is dangerous. Either way, you may meet tourists who are traveling for this reason. This fascinating book will help you understand this complicated type of tourism.
- Religious tourism — Some tourists are very religious people who want to see religious places that are important to the local area. They will want to see churches, shrines and holy places. They might want to meet important religious leaders, go to a religious event or celebrate a specific holiday.
To see what kinds of jobs are available in each type of tourism, go to one of the jobs websites provided earlier (for example, Indeed) and search for these phrases. It is easy, just type in “health tourism” or “ecotourism” and see what results come up.
Types of Jobs in Hospitality and Tourism
This vocabulary will help you a lot when you are searching for jobs. You can go online or read your local newspaper and look for these job titles!
Jobs at Hotels and Resorts
- Bellhop, baggage handler — This is the hotel employee who will open the front door for guests and carry their bags to their rooms.
- Concierge, receptionist — This is the hotel employee who is always at the front desk. They welcome all the guests, give out room keys, help guests make reservations and take payments for reservations. They need to be very friendly and polite, and they need to be able to answer any questions that guests might have.
- Maid, housekeeper — The main job of these hotel employees is to keep the hotel rooms very clean. They visit the hotel rooms every day to keep them clean and neat. When a guest checks out of (leaves) their room, the housekeepers will go to the room and prepare it for the next new guest who is arriving. There is a lot of English vocabulary you might need to know, so here is a great list to help you start studying.
- Janitor — These employees are responsible for cleaning everything outside of hotel rooms. They sweep floors, clean common areas where all the guests can go (like the dining room and lobby) and they take care of all the garbage in the hotel. They will make sure the trash cans in the hotel are empty, and they often do some more difficult cleaning jobs.
- Bartender — Many hotels have bars so their guests can relax and talk. The bartender will serve drinks and sometimes some food to the guests in the hotel. This employee needs to know lots of vocabulary for drinks, especially cocktails.
- Host/hostess — Many hotels also have a restaurant where guests (as well as people who are not guests) can eat. The host or hostess is always standing near the front door of the restaurant to welcome anyone who wants to eat. The host or hostess will help people make reservations to eat on the phone and in person. They will also help people find seats at tables in the restaurant.
- Server, waiter/waitress — These jobs are all the same. The job is to serve customers who are eating at the restaurant. They need to know all the vocabulary that is on the menu so they can take orders.
- Busboy — The busboy makes sure that tables are clean and ready for customers. When people have finished eating and leave the restaurant, the busboy will go to their table to clean and prepare everything for more people.
- Chef/cook — The chef or cook will stay in the kitchen and prepare the food. If the food is extremely delicious, sometimes customers will want to meet the chef! Then the chef should go to the dining room and be friendly with the customers.
- Groundskeeper — A groundskeeper’s responsibility is to take care of all the plants outside the hotel.
- Maintenance worker — If anything stops working in the hotel and needs to be fixed, the maintenance person is the one who will fix it.
- Manager/supervisor — Managers and supervisors are the ones who make sure everything goes well at the hotel. They hire employees, teach new employees how to do their jobs and make sure that guests are happy.
- Event planner — Hotels have a lot of space and places for people to stay, so people often have big events at hotels. For example, there may be big business conventions (meetings) and weddings. The event planner must make sure the hotel is ready for these events.
Jobs at Travel and Tourism Companies
There are many people traveling now, so there are entire companies that exist just to help travelers enjoy their trips. If you work for one of these companies, you will either work in an office or you will work outside the office helping travelers enjoy their time in your city or country.
- Secretary/administrative assistant — This is the employee who takes care of the whole office. They organize paperwork, make and receive phone calls, organize the office schedule and take reservations for tours and trips. They usually assist the boss in whatever they are doing. This person needs to be very organized and needs to work quickly!
- Travel agent — Many people like to have someone help them prepare a travel plan. A travel agent helps people find the most affordable flights, hotels and other necessary things. They also will help people buy tickets and make reservations before they travel.
- Tour guide — Tour guides are everywhere! They are the ones who go out with tourists and take them on adventures. Many people are needed to help tourists explore towns, cities, farms, mountains, jungles and more. Tour guides should know lots of English so they can explain to tourists everything that they see on their tours, as well as be friendly with tourists and help them feel comfortable.
- Boat driver/taxi driver/shuttle driver/private driver — These driving jobs are often important for tourism because tourists need to move around. Travel agencies like to work with drivers who are always dependable, safe and who arrive on time (not late) when they have someone to drive around. If you are a driver, you can find higher-paying jobs by working with tourists and travel agencies. For example, a shuttle driver will drive a large vehicle all day to transport many people between two busy places, such as a hotel and some popular tourist destinations, or between a hotel and the airport. A private driver may be needed to drive one person or one group to a specific place, or to take them on a longer tour in the area.
- Airline agent — An airline agent works at the desk of an airline, or a company that owns airplanes and provides transportation services with them.
- Flight attendant — Flight attendants take care of people on airplanes. They serve food and drinks, as well as give safety instructions. Flight attendants need to get special training, and they usually need to know excellent English. You can see a full list of flight attendant English vocabulary here.
- Cruise attendant — Cruise attendants take care of people on boats and ships. They do the same things as flight attendants, making sure that everyone is safe and calm. They give safety instructions and provide services like food and drinks.
- Translator — Can you translate English into your native language? Can you translate your native language into English? Great! Translators do this in writing. Many travel agencies and tourism-related businesses need professional translators.
- Interpreter — An interpreter translates between two languages by listening and speaking. This work is also sometimes known as live translation. Interpreters spend time with tourists and visitors and help them speak with and understand local people.
- Recreational guide — This job is the most fun! Recreational guides go with tourists to do activities like yoga, surfing, cycling (riding bicycles), running, hiking and climbing mountains.
Jobs in Ecotourism and Volunteer Tourism
Two of the types of tourism mentioned in the beginning have the best potential for growth right now. It is becoming very popular to go abroad to see nature, see projects that conserve natural places and volunteer while traveling. This popularity means that you will find many jobs related to these types of tourism.
Almost all of the jobs we just listed above are found in ecotourism projects, with a slightly different focus. If you are a chef working with an “ecohostel” (see this lovely one in Ecuador, for example) then you might be required to order your ingredients from local farms that only grow organic produce (all-natural food that is not grown with chemicals). If you are a manager at an ecohostel, then you might also need to manage the daily activities of volunteers.
If you are interested in this type of tourism (or if you just want to find a good tourism job) then you can search online for the following jobs:
- Education specialist — Many tourism projects that are focused on nature and ecology (the science of natural habitats) offer educational programs to local communities, usually at schools in the area. An education specialist must manage these classes and the people who teach them. This is a cool job, because you might be helping people teach and learn English!
- Volunteer/intern coordinator — When there are volunteers, somebody needs to take care of them! Interns are another type of volunteer, who are looking to get professional experience from their time with an organization or company. Volunteers and interns are usually not paid for their work, but they will often get a place to sleep and some food for their time. However, some organizations have volunteers and interns pay a fee to cover their housing, food and all the organization the office needs to do for them. Planning activities and taking care of the health, safety and happiness of these interns and volunteers is the main job of the volunteer coordinator or intern coordinator.
- Outreach coordinator — The goal of the outreach coordinator is to make new connections and friendships for the organization. This person will meet lots of new people. They will need to be friendly and polite, and they will need to be able to explain the value of the organization to others. They need to attract new people to work with the organization and do new projects with them.
- Community organizer — Where are the projects taking place? Is the organization doing work in an small town in the Amazon? In a big city in Africa? In New York? The community organizer is the one who is always there, talking to people in the community and helping them work together on projects.
- Program manager — The program manager takes care of the main office of the organization. They need to watch everybody’s schedules and make sure they are achieving their most important goals. This person is usually also in charge of money and basic accounting, so they will need vocabulary related to this.
- Grant writer — For organizations that are focused on doing volunteer work with communities, it is essential that there is an employee who finds money for these projects. This is because the projects they do will never make money—they are not supposed to make money. Instead, the goal is usually to help people or improve quality of life somewhere. So, the grant writer must always find new sources of money from generous people around the world, and they must be able to write very good documents that prove how valuable the projects are.
How to Learn English for Tourism and Hospitality
Everyone who works in tourism and hospitality needs to be sure that customers feel comfortable, safe and happy.
You will need to learn English for interaction with customers in the following ways:
- “Good morning/Good afternoon/Good evening.”
- “Welcome to [company name]. My name is [your name].”
Be sure to always use a respectful term to refer to your customers:
- Miss — Young women (under age 30)
- Ma’am — Mature women (over age 30)
- Sir — Men of all ages
For example, using these terms you can now greet customers in a very respectful way:
- “Good morning, miss.”
If you are working at a hotel, restaurant or tour agency, you can ask this after greeting a customer who just walked into the building:
- “Do you have a reservation with us?”
If you are working with customers in a hotel of any kind, before they go to their rooms you can say goodbye with one of these statements:
- “We hope you enjoy your stay!”
- “Please let us know if you have any comments or questions to share during your stay.”
Asking Customers Questions
You will want to make sure your customers are safe and happy while they are with you. You can do this by asking friendly and polite questions, such as:
- “How are you doing this morning/afternoon/evening?”
- “Have you been having a good time?”
- “Is there anything else we can do to make your experience more enjoyable?”
Responding to Your Customers’ Questions
Customers will have many questions, and sometimes you will not know the answer. You may need to ask a coworker or supervisor. When this happens, you can use the following phrases to let your customer know that you care, and that you will get the answer for them soon:
- “I will get that information for you right away.”
- “That is a great question! I will check in with my supervisor and let you know.”
Answering Phone Calls
To answer the phone, you only need one simple phrase:
- “Hello, you have reached [company name]. This is [your name]. How may I help you?”
To learn more phrases that are appropriate for talking with customers, it is highly recommended that you follow the FluentU Business English blog. There are always new blog posts about polite vocabulary and expressions.
You can also use the FluentU English program to help you study natural speech that will be useful in any situation.
It uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
There is always more that you can learn, but now you have all the vocabulary and knowledge you need to start looking for a cool new job.
Good luck out there!