What Will Be the Top In-Demand Skills in Hospitality for 2021?


Due to COVID-19, life isn’t the same as it used to be for many of us. We’ve seen more changes, strange rules, and restrictions in the last year than ever before. Hospitality is all about offering the best service you can to customers. Friendliness, being helpful and accommodating, and strong interpersonal skills are qualities you need to succeed in this industry.

However, the old ways are having to make way for new, COVID-friendly customs. For instance, in some cases, the restriction of person-to-person contact means that hotels, bars, restaurants, etc., can’t run the way they used to. This begs the question: what hospitality skills are in demand for 2021? This article reveals that so you can thrive during this challenging time.

Let’s get started.

Risk Assessment and Management

Risk assessment and management has always been an essential skill for hospitality professionals. However, this year it’s become more important than ever to learn how to spot health risks and respond to them. 

Bringing risk assessment and management skills to the table reassures customers and put managers’ minds at ease by ensuring everyone’s pulling their weight to keep staff and customers safe.

Hospitality professionals trained in risk assessment can establish safer processes to avoid as much physical contact as possible. For instance, your hospitality business might choose to refuse cash payments or put markings on the floor to keep customers at a safe distance from one another. The number of tables could be reduced so that fewer customers are seated indoors at any given time. Don’t forget to keep in mind government guidelines and your best judgment when establishing risk management rules.


Automation and Personalization

It’s a perfect time to boost your data and analytics skills. Why? Because in a world where in-person contact is limited, creating a personalized experience for guests is more of a challenge. 

Companies need to boost their data and analytics capabilities to get a 360 view of the customer journey. With this info to hand, you’re better positioned to pinpoint areas where you can provide a more customized, engaging service. 

Not to mention, data and analytic skills are pivotal for the smooth running of several departments across your hospitality business – from finance, marketing, and sales, to human resources; all these departments benefit from data. Therefore, investing in improving your business intelligence skills is well worthwhile. 

We reckon there will be a surge in IoT technology to empower customers to personalize their room settings without interacting with staff members. The benefit of using a system like this is that not only are you creating a safer, more contactless experience, but you’re also harvesting data on what guests want. With this info to hand, you’re better positioned to meet your guest’s needs and encourage repeat customers. 


Assessing and Formulating Pricing

It’s never been more critical for hospitality businesses to have concrete pricing strategies, understanding the market and customer phycology, as well as pricing discrimination. As companies fiercely compete to stay afloat, managing cash-flow and embracing new business models is imperative.

It requires a specific way of thinking to assess and formulate pricing strategies and understand how hospitality businesses capture profits from their revenue. In this highly competitive climate, learning this skill also enables hospitality professionals to take a pragmatic approach to react to their competitor’s pricing dynamics.



Effective communication with staff is vital for the successful running of any hospitality business, but even more so during ambiguity. This means communicating any new expectations and innovations your company is putting in place. Ensuring everyone understands the new protocols is paramount for operations to run smoothly.  

Excelling in communication will help you master the vital areas below: leadership, project management, and handling customers in high-stress situations, crucial for career progression. 

 1. Leadership

Crises demand strong leadership. These are times of job insecurity, with constant concerns for family, friends, and the future. With the necessary changes and innovations in your hospitality business, it is no surprise that your staff might have a hard time keeping up while consolidating their work with their struggles. 

Strong leadership qualities will be a crucial skill in 2021. Managers will need to keep the team together and be able to inspire and motivate. They will need to be able to show compassion while keeping a tight ship running. 

Leadership has always been important. It represents 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores, which are strongly linked to productivity. During COVID-19, leaders can make all the difference.

 2. Project Management

With the dawning of a COVID-19 vaccine, there’s hope that the world’s slowly recovering. However, until then, schedules are still uprooted, processes have severely changed, and resources aren’t as readily available as they once were. As such, project management is a skill that’s more crucial than ever. Not only is this imperative for the smooth running of your business, but for ensuring new policies are implemented efficiently. 

 3. Handling Customers in High-Stress Situations

The ability to show resilience in the face of conflict is a skill many customer-facing professionals must have in their repertoire. However, with tensions at an all-time high during the pandemic, staying calm under pressure and diffusing difficult situations has become even more pertinent. 

The pandemic is a massive stressor for hospitality staff and customers alike. Consequently, more customers will come into your hospitality business stressed and frustrated, and as such, the likelihood of conflict has increased. Hospitality professionals need to be more patient than ever, and at the same time, be capable of firmly insisting on procedures while diluting confrontation. 

When it comes to health and safety regulations, the customer can’t be king unless they adhere to the rules. This year, the best hospitality staff members will be able to insist on procedures while maintaining a great customer experience. 


Sustainability Practices

Regardless of COVID-19, sustainability, eco-friendliness, and supporting local businesses have remained highly important. However, unpredictable customers numbers and changes to government guidelines from one day to the other have made it much more challenging to manage resources effectively.

As such, the hospitality industry needs to take note and factor this into their day to day operations. Learning how to reduce food and water waste and planning how to implement sustainable practices are must-have skills for all hospitality businesses. 

By being more mindful of how food is sourced and its use, hospitality businesses can save money and create added value by appealing to the world’s desire for more sustainable practices. 


Reinventing Hospitality 

The future of hospitality demands creative ways to evolve and re-evaluate the way businesses work. Life is unpredictable at the best of times, but the pandemic has changed how the hospitality industry works. 

In short, using your initiative and following the trends listed above will go a long way to helping your businesses prosper, or at the very least, keep your head above the water. 

How long it will take for the hospitality industry to recover fully is unknown. But, putting in place a realistic and creative plan will undoubtedly help you bounce back quicker. To help with this, it might be worth actively looking to gain some new entrepreneurial skills to help your hospitality career expand as you tackle these profound industry changes.



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