Behind the scenes: the US hotel and lodging industry


As the tourism industry in the USA continues to expand, Joseph A McInerney, President of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, discusses the different paths and opportunities a career in the hotel industry can bring.

Welcome to an exciting new world. The well-established hospitality arena holds one of the strongest and most interesting functions in the world, with countless options in the USA.

Through upturns and downturns, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) has been the sole national organisation representing all sectors and stakeholders in the US lodging industry. Our members - both in the USA and internationally - are professionals in the field and receive benefits that help them run their businesses effectively. We have a separate set of benefits uniquely designed for hospitality students like you to jumpstart a successful career in whatever aspect of lodging you choose.

Behind the scenes the us hotel and lodging industry

“Today, education is an important commodity in our industry. Optimism about the industry and what you can contribute to it is essential”

Our Educational Foundation funds approximately $1.3 million in academic scholarships, research grants and workforce development programmes. The Educational Institute provides training and certification programmes, as well as many hospitality textbooks.

In the United States, the tourism industry is currently the third largest retail industry and one of America’s largest employers. Travel and tourism is the nation’s largest services export industry. Residents and international travellers in the United States spend $2 billion a day; $84.5 million an hour; $1.4 million a minute; and $23,500 a second.

There are more than 48,000 lodging properties in this country, totaling nearly 4.5 million rooms. The industry employs approximately 1.8 million workers at these properties alone and directly supports more than 7.5 million jobs on various other levels. With an overwhelming majority of positions available outside the hotel itself, there will never be a shortage of diverse jobs that need employees. And instead of being pigeon-holed throughout your career in one area, there is opportunity to jump career categories, often even within the same company.

Employment directly generated by travel has grown nearly 30% in the last ten years, which is almost one and a half times as fast as most other industries. And with limited growth, a conservative estimate is that the hotel industry will need more than 300,000 new employees by 2014.