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Hospitality Industry: History & Origin

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  • 0:03 The Hospitality Industry
  • 0:28 A Brief History of the…
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

The background of the hospitality industry is quite diverse and spans many countries and time periods. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the history of the hospitality industry.

The Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry consists of businesses focused on customer service, including overnight accommodations, such as hotels and motels; travel and tourism, such as tours and cruises; and food, drink, and entertainment provisions. By definition, hospitality is the friendly receiving or treatment of guests, certainly an area where hotels, restaurants, and other places you encounter on your travels aspire to excel.

A Brief History of the Industry

The earliest accommodations were generally family-owned, with families providing not only lodging but also food and drink for weary travelers. The early days of leisurely travel were generally reserved for royalty and the very wealthy, although some travels were taken as a part of an education process or religious requirement. In fact, European monasteries were frequently used for lodging during the Middle Ages. These basic trends continued for some time, until modern transportation lowered the cost of travel enough to fit the within the budget of the less wealthy.

The word 'hospitality' was used before the word 'tourism.' Tourism was used to describe individuals traveling away from home beginning in the 1700s. The industrial revolution in England, along with the creation of more modern modes of transportation such as steamships and railways, made traveling easier and more common.

By the middle of the 1700s, the term hotel came to be used for lodging in Europe, replacing the old idea of inns or taverns there. However, lodging facilities in America were gaining popularity as inns. The first known travel agency, started by Thomas Cook in England, appeared in the mid-1800s and offered a package that included railway tickets and an accompanying tour book. A few years prior, the modern hotel industry got going in the United States, with the opening of The City Hotel in New York in 1794.

Before that, travelers might've stopped by a tavern-like business for a bite to eat or drinks in Boston, the site of the first American coffeehouses. However, it was during the 1800s that the first establishments that resemble modern restaurants were opened in Paris, France. These restaurants, which catered to a wealthy clientele, were vastly different than the taverns and inns that provided food to travelers.

The popularity of travel continued to increase as modern transportation modes came on the scene. One of the first travel excursions promoting the use of automobiles for travel took place in 1888, when Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, whose company would one day become Mercedes Benz, went on an automobile-based trip to prove that long-distance travel was possible and to promote her husband's Benz Patent Motorwagen.

The 19th century brought about more elaborate hotels with greater amenities to attract the wealthiest of travelers. European hotels were following suit, establishing resorts in exclusive areas. In addition, the 19th century saw the development of the United States' first five-star hotel, located in Boston, as well as an increase in restaurants available to tourists. However, the world-famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, as it stands today, was opened in New York City in 1931.

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