Hospitality skills: Foundation for high emotional intelligence (EQ)

March 10, 2021 •

14 min reading

Hospitality skills: Foundation for high emotional intelligence (EQ)

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What Hospitality Skills will be needed in the future?

Learn more about the skills needed in the future for a successful career in hospitality and service related industries and browse tips on how to acquire them:

What are hospitality skills?

Hospitality skills are the essential skills needed to succeed in hospitality or any service-related industry. They include: 

  1. Hospitality Hard skills
    These skills are specific to a function or necessary to accomplish technical tasks, such as operating a reservation system. They are also called technical skills.

  2. Hospitality Soft skills
    These are the social behaviors needed for the multi-cultural environments typically found in hospitality businesses, and for delivering outstanding customer experiences.

According to the Institute of Hospitality, the world’s leading professional body for hospitality professionals, the key to a successful career in the hospitality industry is to be able to effectively utilize the hard skills learned and apply the organic soft hospitality skills into your management style to be an extraordinary leader.

The perfect combination of hard skills and soft skills would result in a team that has vast industry knowledge to expertly perform their job tasks while also being completely aware of their co-worker’s and client’s emotions and needs. In other words: IQ +EQ = SUCCESS!

What is emotional intelligence (EQ)?

By definition, emotional intelligence, also referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, while also being able to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

Since emotionally intelligent people are highly aware of their own emotions, they can more easily identify and manage them. These types of people are also typically sensitive to how others feel and what they may be experiencing, which often makes them exceptional team leaders and co-workers.

And while there is no scale for rating EQ, according to Psychology Today, the concept of emotional intelligence is widely accepted by employers, with some requiring emotional intelligence tests for perspective employees, based on theories that those with higher emotional intelligence make better leaders and team players.

Fortunately, EQ skills can be honed in on through training and education in the institutions who put emphasis on group work, internships, and on-campus hospitality outlets, which allow students to sharpen their interpersonal skills for better emotional intelligence.


Hospitality skills list

  • Customer service skills
  • Job-related operational skills
  • Flexibility skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Networking skills
  • Multitasking skills
  • Cultural awareness
  • Awareness of environmental, social and ethical issues
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Oral and written language skills
  • Active listening skills
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Autonomy and life-long learning skills
  • Commitment, accountability and can-do attitude

In addition, skills for hospitality managers include:

  • Leadership skills
  • Data analysis and performance measurement skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Multi-cultural people-management skills
  • Organizational design skills
  • Strategic development skills
  • Service marketing skills
  • Financial analysis and budget management skills
  • Real-estate management skills
  • Information Technology skills
  • Presentation skills

READ: Want to be a hotel entrepreneur? Here is the list of hospitality skills you need.


The skills gap in the hospitality industry

While travel and tourism is up, the industry is facing a shortage of qualified people to work in the hospitality field. Since the hospitality and tourism industry are all about making people feel warm, welcome, and appreciated, it is crucial to have qualified employees with a “people-pleasing” attitude that starts with your relationship with co-workers and extends all the way through the customer experience.

To be successful in the industry, it is essential for employees to have the positive personal interaction skills that are essential to their role played in the ever-changing business. The lack of qualified employees in the hospitality industry could cost over 14 million jobs and an estimated $610 billion in loss of GDP.

The skills gap as well as these issues in the hospitality industry are to blame.

Causes for Hospitality Industry Labor Shortage

  • Low wages
  • Intimidation by advanced technology
  • Generational factors

Student Business Projects  Hiring Gen Z Students for your next consulting job  Based on your organization's needs, EHL students will provide innovative and  applicable solutions  Learn more

Due to the ever-changing industry, many new skills will be needed to excel in hospitality related businesses in the future. These are among the skills that are most lacking currently as the hospitality industry prepares for its future needs:

  • Working in heterogeneous teams
  • Understanding cultures and designing memorable guest experiences
  • Working in a flexible and agile manner
  • Applying an entrepreneurial approach to problem-solving.

As the number of tourists and guests grows, so do their expectations, which are evolving rapidly. This means that better trained people with new soft skills and EQ will be needed in the hospitality industry well into the future. Investing in an education in the hospitality field is the best way to eliminate the skills gap.

READ: The importance of soft skills in hospitality

The rising need for emotional and social intelligence skills

While soft skills and EQ may seem more like personal traits rather than business ones, these are the precise skills needed to deliver outstanding customer experiences in the multi-cultural environments typically found in hospitality businesses.

The demand for a better guest experience that exceeds expectations is not only wanted but expected in hotels and restaurants today. To achieve this level of experience, hotels will need to embrace innovative new programs and technology that helps to create more memorable experiences for guests.

In fact, recent research indicates that the guest experience not only effected how the customer felt in the moment, but the emotions involved during the time spent at the business also played a huge role in their current behavior as well as future actions. This means that employees with greater EQ skills will be better equipped to offer an exemplary guest experience.

READ: From Service economy to Emotion Economy: How the hospitality industry is evolving?

The hospitality and service industries need EQ

While hospitality employees obviously need to have traditional service competencies and hospitality hard skills, it is also essential to enhance their soft skills to provide a positive, memorable guest experience. It is absolutely true that an employee can make or break a situation, so personnel that are qualified are necessary to provide that experience and do a good job of representing the hotel or restaurant and its brand.

According to Forbes, soft skills including traits like empathy, emotional intelligence, kindness, integrity, optimism, self-motivation, and resilience, are all crucial for success. They also indicate that occupations that require these soft skills will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030. There is also more good news for those that hire employees, as Forbes also indicates that hiring those with EQ could potentially increase their revenue by more than $90,000.

Hospitality managers and employees with EQ skills can effectively focus on their guests’ needs and individual emotions to ensure they are more than pleased with their time spent at their business. Since guests today require so much more than just a meal or a room to stay in, it is imperative that their experience is enhanced to provide positive emotions, which has been shown to significantly influence retention rates, consumption patterns, and the overall guest experience.

Since EQ is so important to the hospitality and service industry, the high skills gap continues to be an issue as soft skills are in-demand. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report 2020”, the top skills that will be required as we approach 2025 include soft skills such as critical thinking, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility. These skills are so important that it is estimated that almost 40% of employees will require reskilling for at least six months to attain them.

READ: Boost your emotional and social intelligence skills


Assessment of hospitality soft skills in the Future

While a combination of hard skills and soft skills are needed for a successful career in the hospitality industry, those with EQ skills soft skills often have greater success than those with more technical hard skills like software knowledge or mathematical aptitude.

Since emotional intelligence is found to play such a significant role in the guest experience and their satisfaction, hospitality soft skills will be looked at more closely in the future by potential employers. The addition of personal skills to a candidate’s resume or CV will be expected and demonstrating them during the interview will be crucial for the hire.

Learning EQ skills now is an excellent idea for those interested in a career in hospitality. Not only will these skills make you a prime candidate for the job but will also lay the foundation for a successful career in the industry.

Find out what employers are looking for on a hospitality CV, then make your resume shine by updating your list of skills to impress industry employers.

Hospitality skills are transferable skills

Whether you plan to have a long career in the hospitality industry or are using a position in the field as a stepping stone to other opportunities, the variety of skills, customer service knowledge, and EQ gained in the hospitality sector are transferable and can be used in your personal life as well as in other career industries.

Employers are impressed with the skill set that hospitality students bring to the table, which is obvious since half of the graduates of the world's top hospitality management school were hired by non-hospitality-oriented businesses that are not guest related at all.

Investing in an education in hospitality and on the job training in the industry can open up a world of opportunities due to the variety of skills and experiences of those who have excelled in the hospitality and service sector.


Teaching soft skills and emotional intelligence

Since soft skills are one of the main qualities employers look for when adding people to their team, the best hospitality management schools focus on establishing and improving their teaching methods and techniques in this fast-growing field.

While some EQ skills come naturally, soft skills and emotional intelligence can be taught, so students should seek a school that includes teaching soft skills and EQ in their hospitality curriculum.

Those seeking a long-term career in hospitality will gain the soft skills needed in future career endeavors and will also have a plethora of opportunities to practice and cultivate their new skills and abilities while studying.

Here are some of the ways to incorporate learning soft skills for students to build EQ:

  • Provide opportunities to practice teamwork and leadership
  • Incorporate opportunities for public speaking
  • Offer workshops that focus on specific skills
  • Encourage creative solutions
  • Opportunities to practice different roles

With the ever-growing expectations of guests, the need for soft skills in the hospitality workplace is increasing. Students at the best hospitality schools will be prepared if they seek out ways to learn the nurturing soft skills necessary to please guests and attract employers who know you will be an asset to their organization.

READ: Can soft skills be taught? Here is the answer.


Improving your soft skills and emotional intelligence

Soft skills and emotional intelligence are all about having the right mindset. A positive approach and genuine concern for the guest experience is crucial for EQ and a successful career in the industry.

Integrity, character, and a caring attitude can go a long way and honing in and working to improve these soft skills will help you grow and excel personally and professionally. Here are some helpful tips to improve your EQ and thrive in the hospitality and service world.

1. Identify your Abilities and Potential

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a good way to assess your hospitality soft skills. You can learn more about yourself by asking for feedback from peers, management, and friends. Listen to what they have to say and plan to make improvements based on their opinions. It just may surprise you to find out that when it comes to soft skills, people only have about 10% of the skills they think they have! This important insight from those close to you can be a great way to discover what “people skills” need work.

Discover if you have the right soft skills for the hospitality industry?

2. Get Expert Training

Research indicates that soft skills for the hospitality industry can be improved with focused training interventions. Receiving expert training and/or coaching in this area can provide you with personalized feedback from industry experts to help you improve your deficits.

3. Put it in Practice

Once you have acquired the training, skills, and knowledge to be successful in the hospitality field, it is important to put that knowledge to use. Your confidence, abilities, and competences will become better through extensive practice which will reward your attention, repetition, interest, and motivation with a successful hospitality career.

Your abilities, training, and dedication all work in combination to create a successful career in the hospitality service industry. Practical experience will lead to a rewarding position that allows you to excel as you continue to build your soft skills and learn the industry.


Tips to learning hospitality soft skills

Acquiring soft skills to improve your EQ is always a work in progress and can make you a better candidate for your dream job. Instead of the traditional way of learning via books and relevant material, learning hospitality soft skills means having to examine and analyze your personality and people skills.

Leaders in the industry as well as hospitality professors at respectable hospitality management schools, agree that those who are looking to excel int this field should set out to improve these hospitality soft skills to better prepare themselves for a service-oriented career.

1. Customer service skills
2. Networking skills
3. Communication skills
4. Flexibility skills
5. Organisational skills
6. Language skills
7. Commitment
8. Can-do attitude
9. Multitasking skills
10. Cultural awareness 

Building and expanding your soft skills is important for a successful hospitality career, no matter what specific path you choose. The combination of these people skills and an education in hospitality from a reputable school are the tools you need to build a solid reputation in the industry.

READ: Top 10 hospitality and tourism soft skills

READ: How do you learn soft skills for hospitality? Discover our tips

Develop strong hospitality skills with our expert resources

Discover a range of educational, useful, creative and fun resources to help you improve your hospitality skills.

READ: 10 Ways To Have Fun While Learning Hospitality Skills

READ: 5 biggest fails while learning Hospitality Skills

Customer service skills

Networking skills

Multitasking skills

Communication skills

Language Skills

Empathy Skills

Social Skills

Leadership Skills


Storytelling Skills


Hospitality Skills Education

A good way to get hospitality skills is through a hospitality educational program. EHL offers a Swiss Professional Degree, with a choice to take the Professional Pathway to a Bachelor in International Hospitality Management to gain further knowledge, hands-on experience and credentials. 


Written by

Lecturer and International Career Coordinator at EHL Passugg

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Do you have the right skills to create emotional experiences?

In a hospitality management degree program, you not only acquire all the academic skills, but also the soft skills that can make the difference and lead to success. Find out more here.