Great books can inspire, encourage, and inform. And who in the hotel business couldn’t use a little inspiration, encouragement, and information now and then? Especially when it allows you to gain new perspectives on your profession and learn from the wisdom and success of others in the industry.
But it’s easy to get lost in the tidal wave of titles flooding the market. With the onslaught of published copy, not to mention the daily demands on the hotelier, it’s more difficult than ever to not only identify the hospitality books worth reading, but also to find the time to read them.
Which is why we’re happy to take some of the guesswork out of it for you. We’ve sorted through classic titles and reviewed recent publications to compose a short list of must-read books for hotel professionals.
Anyone in the hospitality business — from a front-desk clerk to a seasoned hotelier — can appreciate the quality of the insights found within these pages. With a range of hotel-related topics and narrative styles to choose from, there’s a book on this list for everyone. We’ll also be updating it as we discover additional books deserving of a spot on the list.
6 must-read books for people in the hospitality business
1. Without Reservations: How a Family Root Beer Stand Grew into a Global Hotel by J.W. “Bill” Marriott, Jr.
Whatever type of business you run, you can appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit embodied by the Marriott family. Though Marriott is now one of the largest hotel chains in the world, few people know that it began as a humble family business. Without Reservations, by Bill Marriott, Jr., the founder’s son, is a classic all-American success story as inspiring as it is enlightening. What makes it especially insightful for hospitality professionals is that it maps out the road that led the family to triumph in the hotel industry.
Bill Marriott passes down his father’s industry know-how along with tips for future generations involved in hospitality. This book is chock-full of savvy learnings and management insights for everyone, no matter what sort of property or business they run. For example, Marriott strongly suggests that you know exactly who your competition is and what they do at their core so that you can out-maneuver them.
Marriott is known for being ahead of the curve; in addition to the rich management learnings he offers in his book, he also recommends keeping a sharp eye on trends in order to anticipate what’s next before your competition does.
2. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
This atypical memoir from the 1930s is, among other things, a first-hand account of the hospitality industry told through the voice of the lowest ranking staff member, the Plongeur — who is, in fact, a young George Orwell.
We recommend this book not only for its literary merit and classic Orwellian entertainment value but for two other reasons as well. First, it’s relatable. Especially for those in the hotel business who have worked their way up the hospitality ladder. Second, it forces you to think about all level of staff. How they are delivering service, and how they are regarded, treated, and compensated. It makes you think about how they influence the staff dynamic. And it makes you think about how hotel functions like a machine with many busy and interdependent components.
3. Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker
In Overbooked, Becker explores the global impact that travel has economically, politically, and culturally. And it’s sensational. It underscores the importance of focusing on the details to deliver a superb customer experience — especially crucial in this industry, given the nature of hospitality.
If you want to grow your business, or simply challenge your way of thinking and open up your mind to new concepts within the context of global travel, this book is for you.
4. The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company by Joseph Michelli
When it comes to delivering stellar customer service, no one does it better than the Ritz-Carlton. Even among all the major luxury chains, the Ritz stands out for its “customer first” approach. Guests sing the hotel’s praises, and they keep coming back, generating a strong word-of-mouth that has permeated many other industries.
What’s most remarkable about Ritz-Carlton is the autonomy they grant their staff. Every staff member at every level is empowered to act in the way they see most fitting, as long as it enables them to deliver a phenomenal guest experience. It’s a practice that ensures remarkable service for guests and is indicative of incredible leadership in management as well.
And leadership is exactly what this book is about. With exceptional leadership, everything else, including remarkable service, falls into place. This book is as much about empowering employees as it is about leaving guests feeling special. And it’s also about delivering on an enduring promise, which leads to a self-perpetuating and highly recognizable hotel brand.
5. 100 Tips for Hoteliers: What Every Successful Hotel Professional Needs to Know and Do by Peter Venison
This is a no-nonsense book and already known as a must-read among industry professionals. In fact, it’s even a bestseller. The forward alone will convince you to read it.
Venison has lived a colorful life with over three decades of experience in the hotel business. Starting off in his teenage years, almost by accident, he entered into a hospitality school. Soon after, he began working his way from the bottom up and went on to lead some of the most prestigious companies in the business. He combines this experience with his avid travels and provides a robust set of tips and ideas for any hotelier to take and adapt to their own space.
From the inception of a hotel to handling operations efficiently, this book covers hotel management from A to Z and is recommended it for active hoteliers.
6. A Wealth of Insight: The World’s Best Luxury Hoteliers on Leadership, Management, and the Future of 5-Star Hospitality by Rahim B. Kanani
The most recent addition to our list, A Wealth of Insight truly is that: a wealth of insight acquired through a profoundly rich deep dive into luxury hospitality on a global scale. A journalist who regularly interviews high-profile executives, entrepreneurs, and hoteliers for major media, Kanani spoke with over thirty-five of the world’s best luxury hoteliers to gather material for this book.
A Wealth of Insight is composed of executive profiles of each of these top-tier hoteliers, with real-life examples of what it takes to run a luxury hotel business in today’s modern world. With insights into staff recruiting, hotel marketing, technology, branding, personalization, the most significant trends shaping the sector, and more, this book is without a doubt a must-read for all aspiring and established luxury hotel owners, managers, and marketers.
Do you have any books you’d like to recommend to hoteliers and travel industry professionals? Let us know which in the comments section below.
Featured image credit: Radu Marcusu