Graduate employers who recruit students with 2.2s: the hospitality, leisure and travel sector

The hospitality, leisure and travel sector is full of employers who don’t require a 2.1. Relevant work experience is often much more important to employers in these industries.

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Relevant experience is often considered more important than academic results.

It might seem like getting a 2.1 is the be-all and end-all of going on to a graduate programme or job. Yet the hospitality, leisure and travel industry is one of the sectors where relevant experience is considered more important than academic results. Employers in this area occasionally run graduate programmes, but entry-level roles that are open to graduates are just as common. We investigate the various paths that are available to graduates who achieved a 2.2 at university.

Due to Covid-19, you may find it difficult to gain work in hospitality, leisure or travel. As we explain here , however, recruiters will not view time out of work at the moment as a 'gap' in your CV. Take a look at this article if you'd like advice for searching for work during a pandemic.

Hotel chains:

A degree is needed for the various programmes run by hotel chains but usually no particular degree classification is required. However, some employers ask for a degree in hospitality or business and/or experience in the industry, for example, through a part-time job or internship. Broadly speaking, having the right personality, customer service and experience is more important than your degree result. Hotel chains that typically hire for hotel management graduate schemes without specifying any degree classification requirements include:

  • Firmdale Hotels plc
  • Red Carnation Hotel Collection
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • Jurys Inn

Some hotel chains tend to look for graduates with hospitality degrees, but still do not usually specify a particular degree class:

  • Hilton Worldwide . You need either to have recently graduated from a well-respected hotel or business school, or to have undertaken an internship or part-time work with the organisation – or both.
  • Intercontinental Hotels plc . You need a degree in hospitality or relevant experience (six months in you have an unrelated degree and twelve months if you have a related degree).
  • Mandarin Oriental . You typically need a degree in hospitality, 12 months of relevant experience and a level of ability in one other language (alongside English).
  • Jurys Inn

Pubs, restaurants and fast-food chains:

This is a field where all those hours spent behind the bar serving drinks or waiting on tables come to the fore. Pubs, restaurants and fast-food employers are all more interested in your customer service skills than any academic prowess. With the employers below, graduate schemes are focused on leadership and management. As with hotel chains, most employers value relevant degrees but prioritise experience above all else. McDonald’s is one example of a fast-food chain that offers its graduate scheme to those with a 2.2.

Travel agencies:

If you know a thing or two about travelling, you could be helping members of the public select and organise their ideal holiday as a travel agent, or become a graduate trainee manager.

There are several employers in this field whose entry-level roles each have their own requirements. Many of these do not require the minimum of a 2.1 degree. Employers to consider include Kuoni and Expedia UK .

The events industry:

The events industry rarely runs graduate schemes but entry-level roles are available. However, there is strong competition so experience is essential, as is having the right transferable skills, such as organisation, communication and problem-solving.

Employers such as Clarion Events and Reed Exhibitions do not run graduate schemes but typically offer entry-level roles.


Leisure is a varied industry with several graduate schemes available but entry-level roles are more common.

  • Odeon Cinemas: offers a range of entry-level roles.
  • The British Horseracing Authority: typically runs graduate programmes for those with any degree background.

  • Go Ape: is often on the lookout for outdoor instructors. You can apply from any academic background, regardless of grade. More important is experience in outdoor pursuits, training others, marketing and sales.

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