Peak Season (Not Peak Stress): Managing Your Hospitality Career During The Holidays


If you’re in the hospitality industry, the holiday season means 3 things: higher volumes of business, higher levels of stress, and higher chances of developing serious FOMO (fear of missing out).

That’s because behind every great holiday party is a hospitality professional (or a whole team of them!) working to make the holidays merry and bright. Balancing shifts at work and social activities can be extra hard for hospitality professionals during the month of December. Keep reading for some practical tips for ensuring your holiday season is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Plan ahead

calendar (1280x780)Ever heard the phrase, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”? A server probably came up with that (kidding, it was Benjamin Franklin). In all seriousness, the holiday season is the worst possible time of year to “play it by ear.” You need a plan and you need it now.

Requesting time off over the holidays? Every employer is different – some handle time-off requests on a “first come, first serve” basis, while others operate from a seniority system. If the time off request is important, give your scheduling manager as much notice as possible and be flexible! If you haven’t booked off any time yet, be prepared to hear “no” as many hospitality staff start booking holidays off months in advance (some as early as August!)

Be safe, don’t rush

bus (1280x853)Let’s be real, public transportation in the winter can be unreliable. To make the best of it, part of your “planning ahead” process should include leaving ample time to safely get from point A to point B. Even better, aim to arrive early – your managers will take notice and appreciate your reliability during this busy time of year. You’ll earn their respect and gratitude, and likely see a positive impact on your schedule moving forward (think: better sections and better shifts).

Serve yourself first (before you can serve others)

sleeping (1280x960)The holidays are incredibly stressful for everyone, including the guests you serve at work. Just as serving the most amazing table gives you energy and joy (this is called the “servers’ high”), stressed out tables have the potential to ruin your day.

Dave Elliot, Sales Manager for The Drake Hotel Properties (and all-round fit guy) recommends taking care of your body during the month of December. Meditate, sleep as much as you can, and maintain your regular physical fitness regime.

Dave also recommends keeping a tight grip on your calendar. Social obligations tend to come out of the woodwork over the holidays and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Instead of saying yes to every invitation you get, remember to prioritize what is important.

Manage your money

money-256314_1920You spent all year developing rapport with the regulars, and you’re excited for the upcoming holiday season. After all, it’s an egg-cellent time to reap those rewards! Perhaps you’ve heard tales of sizeable tips being given to favourite servers or bartenders, or even gifts exchanged between the hotel concierge and guests.

While the holidays tend to be viewed as the prime money-making season in the hospitality industry, remember that the holidays are a financial crunch for almost everyone else. Don’t be disappointed if a large tip you were anticipating doesn’t come through… and don’t plan your spending before the money comes in!

Check your cheque

Are you familiar with how time and a half works? Certain holidays are considered statutory holidays in Ontario, and employees who are asked to work on those days are entitled to 1.5 times their normal pay rate. However, if you are absent from your last scheduled shift prior to the holiday or your first scheduled shift after the holiday, you will not qualify. Visit your province’s Ministry of Labour’s website for more information.

The holidays aren’t all headaches and hardships! The camaraderie built between colleagues who share the holidays at work together often lasts a lifetime. Don’t forget that your coworkers are awesome people and likely a large reason why you decided to pursue a career in hospitality in the first place. The holidays are as much a time for you to spend with them, enjoying their company, as it is for you in your personal life.

Heed this advice, and you’ll have a much merrier time. Happy holidays, from one hospitality professional to her friends in the industry!