Hotels and restaurants are found in every country. The economy of hotels and restaurants is intimately tied to the tourism industry, to business travel and to conventions. In many countries, the tourism industry is a major part of the overall economy.
The primary function of a restaurant is to provide food and drink to people outside the home. Types of restaurants include restaurants (which are often costly) with dining rooms and extensive serving staffs; smaller, “family-style” restaurants and cafes which often service the local community; “diners”, or restaurants where serving short-order meals at counters is the major feature; fast food restaurants, where people line up at counters to place their orders and where meals are available in a few minutes, often for taking out to eat elsewhere; and cafeterias, where people go through serving lines and make their selections from a variety of already prepared foods, which are usually displayed in cases. Many restaurants have separate bar or lounge areas, where alcoholic beverages are served, and many larger restaurants have special banquet rooms for groups of people. Street vendors serving food from carts and stalls are common in most countries, often as part of the informal sector of the economy.
The primary function of a hotel is to provide lodging for guests. Types of hotels range from basic overnight facilities, such as inns and motels that cater to business travellers and tourists, to elaborate luxury complexes, such as resorts, spas and convention hotels. Many hotels offer auxiliary services such as restaurants, bars, laundries, health and fitness clubs, beauty salons, barber shops, business centres and gift shops.
Restaurants and hotels can be individually or family-owned and operated, owned by partnerships or owned by large corporate entities. Many corporations do not actually own individual restaurants or hotels in the chain but rather grant a franchise of a name and style to local owners.
The restaurant workforce can include chefs and other kitchen staff, waiters and head waiters, table busing staff, bartenders, a cashier and coatroom personnel. Larger restaurants have staffs which can be highly specialized in their job functions.
The workforce in large a hotel typically will include reception clerks, door and bell persons, security personnel, parking and garage staff, housekeepers, laundry workers, maintenance personnel, kitchen and restaurant workers and office staff.
Most hotel jobs are “blue collar” and require minimal language and literacy skills. Women and immigrant workers comprise the bulk of the workforce in most hotels in developed countries today. In developing countries, hotels tend to be staffed by local residents. Because hotel occupancy levels tend to be seasonal, there is usually a small group of full-time employees with a sizeable number of part-time and seasonal workers. Salaries tend to be in the middle to low income range. As a result of these factors, employee turnover is relatively high.
In restaurants, workforce characteristics are similar, although men comprise a larger proportion of the workforce in restaurants than in hotels. In many countries salaries are low, and the staff waiting on and busing tables may depend on gratuities for a major portion of their income. In many places, a service charge is automatically added to the bill. In fast food restaurants, the workforce are often teenagers and the pay is at the minimum wage.