Why travel and hospitality: Jad Lian, Khaleel​ Johnson & Iris Serbanescu

Thinking about switching industries? Listen: travel and hospitality is calling to you… If you need convincing that a shake-up is in order, just read on to find out why these three Lightning faves love what they do.

From finding a great mentor, to familiarising yourself with each team, to building a network that will serve you well down the line, Jad Lian, Khaleel Johnson and Iris Serbanescu have some major tips for anyone who’s new to the industry, too.

P.s. If you already work in travel and hospitality and are just looking for a major morale-boost and insider career tips, you’ve come to the right place.

Jad Lian (he/him) – Assistant Marketing Communications Manager for Andaz

Why do you love working in travel and hospitality?

Hospitality has been a journey, a lifestyle, and one of the most exciting parts of my career and adult life. It’s a challenging industry, especially when it comes to doing shift-work and dedication to your role when you’re having a bad day. However, it’s also rewarding in many ways – such as meeting new people, making global connections, forming lifelong friendships, enjoying the perks of the job and, most importantly, creating memorable experiences for guests.

I’ve learned that hospitality is one of the best industries because it allows me to be my extroverted self, work hard, and have fun. I’ve met people from all over the world and made lifelong friends. I’ve also had the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures and the world. I’m grateful for the opportunities the hospitality industry has given me, and I’m excited to continue my journey in this field.

What makes it different to other industries?

Hospitality is a profession that brings out the best in people. It teaches you how to be kind, generous, and attentive to the needs of others. It also gives you the opportunity to learn about different cultures and perspectives. No two days in hospitality are ever the same, which keeps the job exciting and challenging.

One of the things that makes hospitality unique is the high expectations that guests have. They want a flawless experience – and it's your job to make sure that they get that. This can be a challenge, but it's also what makes the job so rewarding. When you succeed in exceeding guest expectations, it's a great feeling.

In addition to being great listeners and problem-solvers, hospitality professionals also need to be psychologists and teachers. They need to be able to understand the needs of their guests and then help them have the best possible experience. They also need to be able to teach their guests about the culture and customs of the place they’re visiting.

If you're looking for a career that’s challenging, rewarding, and never boring, then hospitality is a great option. It's a profession that will teach you a lot about yourself and the world around you. Plus, you'll also have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

What’s your advice for candidates who are new to the industry?

The best advice is to make sure you find a great mentor – I’ve learned a lot about the industry from my mentors – and to keep learning, keep adapting to the times. Try to be patient: it’s an industry that can be overwhelming at times. I highly advise new-starters to build your confidence from the get-go – never be shy to say you’re training; never be scared to say “I don’t know.” Expect to make mistakes, but take it easy on yourself – we’ve all made mistakes and errors of judgement; the most important thing is to ask for help.


Khaleel Johnson (he/they) – (x) Member Events & Content Coordinator for Soho House & Co

Why do you love working in travel and hospitality?

Travel and hospitality is an ever evolving field that’s fast-paced, frequently tests your agility, and relies on your desire to create elevated experiences. I love working in the industry because it allows you to form profound connections, broadens your understanding of human behaviour, and heightens your level of empathy.

What makes it different to other industries?

We’re working with guests’ moments of leisure and our aim is to foster long-lasting memories. Using this as your compass, you can be creative in how this goal is achieved – whether that’s a complimentary welcome drink of a cocktail or mocktail you remember them enjoying on their last visit, or programming a rooftop secret performance with a touring artist.

What’s your advice for candidates who are new to the industry?

It really does take a village for operations to run smoothly in the hospitality industry, so my advice would be to familiarise yourself with each team – from the back-of-house kitchen porters and maintenance, to the receptionists and floor managers – as during the glow moments of a large event production you’ll rely on different teams for each stage of the guest experience. With long working hours (including weekends), there may be times you see your colleagues more than your flatmates; but this fast-paced cycle acts as a catalyst for forming a strong, trusted network and developing new memories filled with shared experience and collective spirit.


Iris Serbanescu (she/her) – Founder of By Iris and wmnsWORK

Why do you love working in travel and hospitality?

I just freakin' love the people! Most have deliberately chosen this industry to work in – compared to other industries, where people feel they 'should' get a job (like banking or finance) – so the vibe is amazing. Also, I love travelling for work and turning colleagues into friends. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve met in the travel industry. 

What makes it different to other industries?

Having worked in another industry prior to travel, it's so different from most jobs. The industry is made up of people who’ve turned their insatiable curiosity about the world into a job, and with that comes incredibly diverse and interesting people. I feel like everyone in travel has a story to share. It's the best industry for people who love people! 

What’s your advice for candidates who are new to the industry?

Make sure you cast a wide net in terms of who you connect with – choose roles early on where you can build the biggest networks with the most variety of roles or verticals within travel – and get curious about them and their roles. Aside from running wmnsWORK Tourism Accelerator, I support small-to-medium-sized businesses in B2B sales through my agency, By Iris, which involves connecting them with lots of people in my network that I've built relationships with over the past decade. My network is one of the most valuable parts of my business and why people choose to work with me.


Reckon travel and hospitality could be the industry for you? Get in touch for help finding your next role.

Already working in travel and hospitality, but not sure where to take your career next? Book a Lightning Lounge session for tailored career advice to help you figure out your future.

Or maybe you’re looking for out-of-industry candidates for a role in your business? We can help you find the right fit.

Know an industry superstar that would love to be featured? Email us at: office@lightningtravelrecruitment.com and we'll see what we can do.

As some bonus content, you can catch our CEO Thea Bardot (they/she) giving their top tips on hiring in luxury hospitality, filmed on stage at the Independent Hotel Show.

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6th November

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