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English Vocabulary for the Hospitality Industry

7 min read
21 January 2016
person helping students at alpadia desk

Lots of students end up finding a job in hospitality to help finance their studies, in fact it’s a great industry to pick up some work experience and improve your English at the same time. Hotels love friendly, multilingual staff for their front desks in order to help greet the variety of guests that come through their doors.

Whether you decide to work in hospitality for a short time or manage to turn it into a career, it’s an exciting business where you’re sure to meet lots of interesting people and gain a variety of experiences. To help you along the way, here are some basic English hospitality vocabulary.



Catering is the business of providing a food service at a remote site or a place such as a hotel, pub or other location.

Here is a list of departments that make up the structure of larger hospitality organizations.


Food & Beverage

Food and Beverage (also abbreviated as F&B) is the industry or department of a hospitality structure that specializes in the conceptualization, making and delivery of food and drinks. Most F&B employees work in hotels, resorts and casinos inside the restaurants and bars.

Enjoy a drink in the many pubs of Edinburgh



This common word is the heart of every house but also every hospitality organization. It’s the room or area where food is prepared and cooked, in large establishments kitchens can be really big in size and well organized with dozens of people inside working doing different roles.



Reception & Guest Relations

A hotel receptionist also known as a hotel desk clerk, is a person who works at the front desk of a hotel and greets and assists guests. Receptionists are typically responsible for everything from helping people make reservations to managing available rooms, issuing room keys and solving any problems that may arise during the course of a stay. In most cases, he or she is the first person that guests will interact with at the hotel, which adds importance to the role as a receptionist is the face of the hotel.


Front of the house

This department includes all areas or departments whose employees talk directly to guests and includes positions such as host/hostess, receptionist, cashier, bar staff, and waiting staff.


Human Resources

This department of a business or organization deals with the hiring, administration and training of staff, it’s really important in the hospitality industry as there are a lot of brand standards, hygiene and food safety rules.



Workers in this department manage and perform cleaning tasks, making sure guests are happy with the standard of their hotel rooms.


Sales & Marketing

This department is in charge of the process of planning and executing conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services in order to create exchanges that satisfy both guests/customers and organizational objectives.



In the worldwide hotel industry the management is very concerned about safety and security issues when it comes to their guests and employees. If you are trusting a business enough to stay there and leave your belongings unattended, you want to make sure the guests can feel safe and comfortable. In its basic form, security involves employee background and fingerprint checks, video cameras, secure key locks, security guards and other measures not always visible to the guests.



Maintenance is the department in charge keeping equipment and utilities in good working condition. If your guest’s air conditioning is not working for example, it will lead to a poor guest experience so maintenance wants to make sure everything runs smoothly and fix any problems as soon as they arise.


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Hygiene and food safety

This term describes the handling, preparation and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illnesses. “Hygiene” (pronounced like the words “high jean”) is used generally to talk about how clean and healthy something is (someone with good dental hygiene for instance would take very good care of their teeth and keep them clean). Food-related businesses have to make sure that food is high quality and safe to eat. Part of this process involves keeping records on where the food came from so that they can show this information if there is any question of the safety. The idea of being able to track where food came from is known as traceability. This includes a number of standard routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards.

Below is another list of words that are useful attitude and personality traits which are important in many jobs and positions in this field and generally when a job involves dealing with the public.


Customer Service Orientation

To be “oriented” means to put in a particular position. A business that is “customer service oriented” believes that their customers are very important and directs all of its activities to ensure that guests and clients remain happy. Successful businesses feature employees who like helping people and always do whatever they can to give customers a good experience. They deal with customer needs and sometimes complaints and have to be able to talk with people maintaining a positive attitude.


Attention to detail

People who are highly attentive to detail are focused on organization and making sure that everything is finished and done well. A separate important skill to have is seeing the “big picture," which involves thinking about long-term strategies and a “game plan.” Exceptional employees and hospitality managers have a balance of attention to detail and the ability to think for the long term.



Highly sociable people enjoy interacting with others whilst Less sociable people prefer more solitary environments. The hospitality industry is definitely a workplace where you need interact with people all the time and be nice with them no matter what your mood is that day. Smiling and talking to people is a great way to do well in every hospitality job.

With this list, you’re off to a great start. Hoping to get a job in hospitality? Consider improving your English skills at one of our schools across the world.


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