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Hospitality, leisure and travel
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Hospitality, leisure and travel

The Guardian UK 300 asked trendence UK – a partner of TARGETjobs’ parent company, GTI – to conduct a survey of university students’ attitudes towards employers and their job hunts. Overall, 62,814 students took part in the trendence Graduate Study 2017. Find out more about the survey methodology.

On this page, we reveal the thoughts of those students who were interested in hospitality, leisure and tourism employers, along with an overview of careers within the sector. You can use this information to help you decide whether the sector is right for you and to create a job-hunting strategy, based on what other students are doing to secure their first graduate job.

Top rated employers


Hilton Worldwide

Last year: 1

Hospitality, leisure and travel


Marriott International

Last year: 2

Hospitality, leisure and travel


Thomas Cook

Last year: 3

Hospitality, leisure and travel


InterContinental Hotels Group

Last year: 7

Hospitality, leisure and travel


TUI Travel PLC

Last year: 8

Hospitality, leisure and travel


Camp America

Last year: 4

Hospitality, leisure and travel, Marketing, advertising and PR, Teaching and education


Merlin Entertainments plc

Hospitality, leisure and travel


Center Parcs

Last year: 5

Hospitality, leisure and travel



Last year: 6

Hospitality, leisure and travel


Fitness First

Last year: 10

Hospitality, leisure and travel


About graduate careers in hospitality, leisure and tourism

Opportunities in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector include catering and hotel management, events, entertainment, health and fitness, and heritage. It is a broad sector, so graduates can tailor their job hunt according to their interests and can expect opportunities to work abroad as well as in the UK. Wherever you work, interacting with people from a range of ages is a key part of the job and responsibilities are likely to include providing customer service and solving problems. While the industry allows graduates to develop transferable management and planning skills, the hours are often unsociable and include evenings and weekends.

Some larger employers run schemes where graduates learn the basics of the business and have a hands-on experience to develop skills, such as leadership. Some schemes are rotational so graduates can work in different departments, learning on the job. Smaller organisations, such as specialist tour operators, may offer the chance to take on responsibility earlier. Salaries vary depending on the size of the business and your experience; for example, the manager of a small hotel may earn about £20,000 a year, but a senior manager of a top hotel can earn £60,000 or more. Some salaries may include bonuses and commission.

Find out more about salaries for graduate jobs in hospitality

What kind of jobs can graduates do in hospitality and tourism?

Graduate schemes are competitive and those applying for non-management roles may be competing with non-graduates. Work experience, such as a weekend job at a pub, can show you have practical skills that will be useful in the industry. As most roles involve customer interaction, students and graduates can stand out by showing they have interpersonal skills, such as communication, initiative and teamwork. Graduates often do not need a degree in the field. However, a postgraduate qualification in international tourism or hospitality management can demonstrate a real interest in the sector as well as provide extra work experience and useful contacts. Employers may encourage you to study towards an industry qualification, such as a diploma in hospitality supervision and leadership, while working. Some postgraduate studies can lead to professional industry qualifications.

How do you get a job in hospitality, leisure and tourism?

Restaurant manager job description

Students interested in hospitality, leisure and tourism…

  • mostly studied business/management, at 69%
  • overwhelmingly had some form of work experience to put on their CV: 93% had work experience related to their course and 94 per cent had unrelated experience
  • were entirely opposed to working for a company with a bad reputation, as nobody actively agreed with the statement ‘If the salary was right, I would work for a company with a bad image’ and 94% stated that they actively disagreed with it (6% expressed no opinion)
  • were more likely to look for their first job across the UK than most students interested in other sectors (at 52%), but are the second least likely group of students to look for work abroad (at 3%)
  • may not be motivated by money, as 100% agreed that ‘It is more important to be fulfilled than to earn lots of money’ and 93% said that they would ‘accept a lower salary if they thought an employer was very suited to them’.