Hospitality and tourism is the 5th largest industry in the US, employing over 15 million Americans with over 600,000 open job listings.
Whether you're a food server, bartender, hotel manager or housekeeper, your job is to make sure your guests have a home away from home. Pursuing a full-time career in hospitality guarantees you a work family and can be well-paying with additional earnings from tips. It’s a great way for students to save up for college or support themselves while traveling.
Having worked as a waitress for the last 4 years, I’ve done my research and found the best online hospitality courses in 2023 to get you started.
What is the best online hospitality course?
These are my recommendations for the top courses in hospitality:
- Hotel Management: Hospitality and Service (Udemy)
- Food Safety for Managers and Supervisors (Udemy)
- Food and Beverage Management (Coursera)
- The Essentials of Bartending (European Bartender School)
- Waiter Training Course (The Waiter’s Academy)
- Complete Guide on How to Create a Tour (Udemy)
- How to Become a Professional Waiter (Udemy)
- Introduction to Spirits – Level 1 (Udemy)
- Sustainable tourism – Promoting Environmental Public Health (Coursera)
- TripAdvisor Domination for Hospitality & Hotel Management (Udemy)
- How to start your bed and breakfast, the complete guide (Udemy)
The top pick is Arthur Bairamukov’s Hotel Management course, which has something for everyone. It explains basics such as the structure of a hotel and key terminology used in the industry. You’ll also learn management skills such as data protection and how to deal with complaints. If you have some experience, the guidance on how to improve customer service and increase tips is informative and well-presented.
If you’re looking for some pre-interview confidence and an internationally recognized qualification, then the Essentials of Bartending class by the European Bartending School is the course for you. It’s a hands-on program where you’re expected to put your new skills into practice and comes with study notes to keep you on track.
For those with experience in the hospitality industry our top recommendation is Food Safety for Managers and Supervisors. Food hygiene and guest safety is a top priority in the industry and this course covers the entire Highfield Level 3 Food Safety Training syllabus. So you can fully understand the dangers of improper food hygiene and signal to employers you’re ready to work your way up to management level.
You can also check out our best online receptionist courses review.
Best free online courses in hospitality
If you’re looking for the best free online hospitality course we recommend the following courses:
- Food and Beverage Management (Coursera)
- Sustainable Tourism – Promoting Environmental Public Health (Coursera)
Coursera courses are free provided you do not require certification.
The courses on this list offer a range of topics and teaching styles suited to different roles in the hospitality industry and most can be completed in less than 2 hours.
To find out which one is right for you, keep reading.
Best hospitality course reviews
1. Hotel management: Hospitality and service (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Arthur Bairamukov | Course length: 19 video lessons totaling 4 hours 1 minutes
Arthur Bairamukov is passionate about communication, having pursued a degree in international relations before beginning a career in hospitality. In this program he shares some of his 10 years of experience in 5 star hotels and international events so you can learn the foundations of hotel management.
- How a hotel is structured
- Table setting and etiquette
- Effective communication
- Dealing with complaints
- Necessary data security
- Appropriate uniform and hygiene standards
- Visually appealing slides with graphics and diagrams
- Knowledgeable and experienced instructor with 4.6 rating
- Logically organized into three categories (communication, hotel work, and food and beverages)
- Well-researched with statistics
- Could do with more visual demonstrations
- Would benefit from a few lectures in administrative tasks
Who’s it for: beginners and intermediate – for those just starting out or wanting to take their service to the next level. The section on data security is relevant to managers but is short.
Overall: a thorough and informative course. This class will give a base level of essential hotel knowledge that would suit those considering a career in hospitality whilst also giving experienced hospitality staff expertise on how to be more professional or work in a hotel setting.
2. Food safety for managers and supervisors (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Nick Dore | Course length: 25 video lessons totaling 2 hours 11 minutes
Nick Dore has worked as a Food Safety Advisor for the last 20 years and prior to that, managed pubs and restaurants for 8 years. With well-presented video lectures under 10 minutes, this course will teach you the entire Highfield Level 3 Food Safety Training syllabus.
- Food safety laws
- Microbiological contamination, multiplication and survival
- Pest control
- How food poisoning occurs
- How to monitor food poisoning complaints
- Proper cleaning and disinfection
- Included in Udemy personal plan courses
- Downloadable accompanying workbook
- Strong focus on HACCP principles
- Downloadable exercises to consolidate knowledge
- Summary of course at the end, which can be referred back to periodically
- No closed captions available
- Automatic voice on some videos isn’t too engaging
Who’s it for: An intermediate course that provides managers and supervisors with a broad knowledge of the essentials of food hygiene. Also beneficial for those who are studying for, or considering, taking the Highfield food safety training as this program covers the entire syllabus.
Overall: It’s a legal requirement for all food businesses to have a safety management program following HACCP principles plus an understanding of food hygiene. If you want to teach your staff how to handle food safely or need to complete the Highfield Level 3 Food Safety Training this course will teach you everything you need to know. And with a downloadable workbook and practice exercises it’s sure to stick.
3. Food and Beverage Management (Coursera)
Platform: Coursera | Teacher: Gabriele Troilo | Course length: 52 video lessons totaling 13 hours
Gabriele Troilo is a professor at the Bocconi School of Management, teaching Marketing, Brand and Communication Management in the Master of Management in Food and Beverage. With over 100,000 learners, this course will help you market your product or establishment and improve customer satisfaction.
- The value of brands in food and beverage markets
- How customers value products and quality
- The role of food bloggers and critics
- To design growth strategies
- How to build a competitive advantage in food and beverage markets
- Readings and practice exercises
- High-quality video lectures
- Uses real case studies from food and beverage companies
- Conversations and interviews with key figures in the industry
- Glossary of key terms
- Can be accessed for free without certificate and is included in coursera plus
- More focused on restaurant marketing and theories than management
- Some of the video links have expired
- Doesn’t tackle financial or practical side of management
Who’s it for: Managers and entrepreneurs in the food and beverage sector. If you are hoping to improve customer satisfaction and attract more customers to your business then this is the course for you.
Overall: A comprehensive and hands-on course with a focus on attracting more customers and improving guest’s experiences. It has an impressive range of enjoyable educational resources including interviews with industry heavyweights and articles from websites.
4. The essentials of Bartending (European Bartending School)
Platform: European Bartender School | Teacher: Gavin Wrigley | Course length: 34 video lessons totaling 3 hours 30 minutes
Founded in 1999, the European Bartender School is the largest bartender training school in the world with over 50,000 graduates. In this program Gavin Wrigley will show you the basics and 27 cocktails in high-quality pre-recorded lectures complete with a workbook. This course provides the only internationally recognised certificate of completion.
- Double shaking and stirring
- Fancy garnishes
- How to make syrups and cordials
- How to develop your palate by identifying ingredients
- Categories of cocktails
- 27 cocktail recipes
- Internationally recognised certificate of completion
- Lifelong access to EBS MatchStaff employment portal
- Comprehensive, downloadable study notes
- Subtitles available in Spanish, French and Italian
- Low cost at $29.99
- Customer service team is difficult to contact
- Interview and CV tips aren’t included
Who’s it for: Absolute beginners. The internationally recognised certificate of completion makes this course ideal for anyone planning on going traveling whilst still having a reliable income.
Overall: if you are an aspiring bartender this is our top pick due to the mix of well-presented practical and theoretical lessons. You’ll have a handy workbook to keep you on track and study notes to refer back to when you’re on the job!
5. Waiter Training Course (The Waiter’s Academy)
Platform: The Waiter’s Academy | Teacher: Ned | Course length: 11 lessons totaling 2 hours
Ned has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, working as a waiter in some of the world’s best hotels: the Grand Lux in Las Vegas and the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz to name a few. Since launching his online academy Ned’s taught over 6,000 students with 23 universities and colleges sponsoring students in his courses.
This class will teach you how to set up for guests in a variety of settings and essential skills for servers such as upselling and appropriate greetings.
- How to set up a table appropriately
- The different types of service in a restaurant
- How to serve in a Fine Dining restaurant
- Ways to greet guests
- Upselling techniques
- How to handle customer complaints
- Blog offers tips on how to prepare for restaurant job interviews, first days, and progressing in the industry
- Additional coffee and tea knowledge document
- 11 tests with over 110 quiz questions
- Covers basic food hygiene and safety guidelines
- Can be offered as a package for multiple staff
- Certificate isn’t a university or government accepted document
- Doesn’t cover allergens
- Video interview required for certificate
Who’s it for: beginners and intermediates. Whether you have some experience in small restaurants, are hoping to move into fine dining or are yet to step foot in your first restaurant this course is sure to give you guidance on how to succeed as a server.
Overall: this short course will walk you through the basics and more, covering essential skills like upselling and testing at each stage to ensure you have understood everything. While you can buy separate coffee and tea courses from other providers, this class includes it for free!
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Charalampos Petrou | Course length: 30 video lessons totaling 2 hours 14 minutes
Charalampos Petrou, or Harry as he prefers, has a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Tourism Management and is a co-owner of a travel agency. With all videos under 15 minutes this course will give you theoretical and practical insights into how to create a tourism experience.
- How to communicate with clients before, during and after the experience
- Marketing techniques for tour experiences
- How to price tours and experiences
- What to do if something goes wrong during a tour
- The importance of insurance and policies
- Experienced instructor
- Uses real life examples to explain concepts
- Short course – not much time commitment required
- Engaging and concise video lectures with pictures
- 30-day money back guarantee
- No end of section quiz or final test
Who’s it for: this course is ideal for anyone thinking about turning their passion into a tourism experience. There are also ways to improve your skills and potentially add new experiences to your roster if you are already in the tourism industry as a tour guide or Airbnb host.
Overall: a niche yet comprehensive program that walks you through every step of starting a tourism experience. Harry is engaging and his experience shines through with every question answered in detail. There is a 30-day money back guarantee so what do you have to lose?
7. How to become a professional waiter (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Vincent Vermeulen | Course length: 38 video lessons totaling 9 hours 9 minutes
Brought to you by Hospitality Tutors, a group of service professionals, this course focuses on communication and etiquette. Your tutor, Vincent Vermeulen is a fourth-generation hospitality professional who grew his family’s restaurant and hotel into a 5-venue group before launching the School for Butlers and Hospitality in 2013.
- How to set up a dining room
- Allergens and dietary requirements
- How to taste wine and how it is made
- The fundamentals of food safety
- Fine dining ingredients such as truffles, caviar and goose liver (fois gras)
- Proper personal presentation
- Body language and communication skills covered in great depth
- Nice mix of practical tips and theory
- Demonstrations of essential skills such as opening and pouring wine
- Downloadable resources and online community
- 30-day money back guarantee
- Topics are too broad at times – table set up doesn’t include examples for Japanese or Chinese restaurants
- Limited knowledge on alcoholic beverages beyond wine
- Not included in Udemy personal plan
Who’s it for: this course is ideal for beginners, walking you through how to set a table in a professional setting and basic food safety. It would also suit intermediates looking to work in a fine-dining setting due to its coverage of ingredients.
Overall: working as a waiter can be a rewarding and high-paying side hustle. If you are looking to learn the basics or wondering what will be required in a fine-dining setting before applying for a job then this is the course for you.
8. Introduction to Spirits – Level 1 (Udemy)
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Ravi Sharma | Course length: 6 video lessons totaling 1 hours 37 minutes
Provided by the Ravi Sharma Hospitality academy, this class covers essential knowledge of spirits. It includes the main types served in bars and how they are made.
Ravi has 25 years of experience in hospitality, including a long stint at both the Marriott and Sheraton, winning the Fiver Star Diamond Award. He is an experienced teacher, leading modules on hospitality at the University of West London and Queen Margaret University.
- Raw materials used in the production of spirits
- The production process of spirits
- The difference between distilled and fermented beverages
- How spirits are categorized
- Common bar equipment and basic cocktails
- Well explained with clear powerpoint slides
- Covers essential spirits every bartender and restaurant manager should know
- Ideal for beginners but provides impressive knowledge of spirits
- Short course so doesn’t require a lot of time
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Not included in Udemy personal plan
- No final quiz or practice questions
Who’s it for: beginners who want to learn the essentials but also understand spirits in greater depth. It would be beneficial to those working in the spirits industry, retail and hospitality staff.
Overall: basic knowledge of spirits is essential for bartenders, servers and managers. This short class will teach you the basics and a whole lot more so you can explain which spirits are which and how they are made next time a customer asks what the difference is between tequila and mezcal!
Platform: Coursera | Teacher: Flemming Konradsen | Course length: 14 video lessons totaling 14 hours
The University of Copenhagen has partnered with the State University of Zanzibar as well as international experts from the hotel sector to provide this course on sustainable tourism.
Using examples from Zanzibar, you will come away with a knowledge of the challenges to achieving sustainability in hotels and plenty of further readings to continue learning from after the course has finished.
- Global trends in tourism and the social and environmental impacts
- Strategies for more sustainable tourism
- The significance of tourism in middle-low income countries
- Management approaches and technologies to promote sustainable management of water resources
- Private sector initiatives to improve waste management
- Management interventions to control mosquitoes
- End of week quiz and additional readings
- Well-presented and engaging slides
- Lectures (with subtitles and transcript) are available to download
- Discussion prompts
- Can be accessed for free without certificate and is included in coursera plus (Unlimited access to 7,000 courses, projects, specializations and certificates)
- Focused on tropical and subtropical settings
- Heavy on the mandatory readings
Who’s it for: This course is ideal for anyone interested in sustainable tourism or working in management at hospitality venues looking to improve sustainability.
Overall: Since the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, sustainability has been on the global agenda. With well-presented and engaging slides it is a thought provoking class about the wider impacts of the hospitality industry that will teach you how to overcome sustainability issues at your venue.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Marina Arantes | Course length: 39 video lessons totaling 3 hours 5 minutes
Online reviews can make or break a hospitality business. This course, which is used by over 300 hotels, resorts and restaurants, will give you essential TripAdvisor knowledge so you can build an online presence and attract new customers whilst showcasing your previous guests’ experiences.
- Why online reviews are important
- How to achieve more positive TripAdvisor reviews
- TripAdvisor guidelines and tools
- How to respond to negative reviews
- Strategies to convert new customers into loyal customers
- How to evaluate and improve your business
- Uses real-life examples to explain concepts
- Includes downloadable step-by-step checklists
- Engaging graphic slides
- Uses reputable statistics
- Professional website templates
- Power-points don’t have much written detail so taking notes is more difficult
- Monotone instructor
Who’s it for: TripAdvisor newbies. It would be useful for those marketing airbnb’s and hoping to build an online presence for a bar or hotel.
Overall: a well-researched and informative class. The instructor explains the content clearly in concise videos with examples throughout. The step-by-step checklists and website template are high quality and useful for building your TripAdvisor presence after you’ve completed the course.
Platform: Udemy | Teacher: Vincent Vermeulen | Course length: 57 video lessons totaling 5 hours 32 minutes
Vincent Vermeulen shares his 10+ years of hospitality training in this comprehensive course that will give you the tools to start your own B&B. It includes advice on how to attract customers whilst also providing excellent service.
- How to give great customer service
- Pitfalls in the industry and how to overcome issues faced by other B&Bs
- Ways to market a B&B
- How to build a comprehensive business plan – identifying target audiences and creating a break even analysis
- To build self-confidence
- Food safety and creating a HACCP plan
- Mix of practical skills and theory
- High quality lectures
- Includes free social media resources: content ideas, hashtags and social media planner
- Covers personal development including building self-confidence
- Downloadable checklists for buying and building B&Bs, health & safety and good service
- Some lectures cover butler skills more than B&Bs
- Would benefit from being able to contact the instructor
Who’s it for: if you have always dreamed of owning a B&B but don’t know where to start, this course is perfect for you. The tips on self-confidence and good service would be beneficial to anyone starting in the hospitality industry.
Overall: a comprehensive walk through the steps to owning and operating a bed and breakfast. There is essential guidance on food hygiene and good service with a bonus section on building self-confidence.
What are the advantages of taking an online hospitality course?
Invest in a future career – while there are robots out there flipping burgers and shaking cocktails, nothing can beat face-to-face interaction in the hospitality world. Taking an online hospitality course can give you the skills to walk into a well-paid and reliable job as a full-time career or alongside studies or travel.
Broaden your knowledge of food and beverages – sometimes restaurant menus throw us all – what is a kumquat? Hispi cabbage? An online hospitality course in bartending or fine dining service will teach you all the fancy ingredients you’ll need to order like an expert.
Improve your people skills – working in hospitality requires communication and customer service skills that are relevant to daily life and in other industries. Taking a course in hospitality is a great way to learn to handle difficult people and also improve speaking politely and professionally
Buyer’s guide: what to look out for?
The topics covered – many positions exist in the hospitality industry (bartender, waiter, general manager, housekeeper, tour guide etc.). If you have specific skills you want to develop or are hoping to work in a certain position make sure the syllabus is suitable for you.
The cost – most jobs in hospitality require practical skills that need to be practiced in the real world. Whilst an online course is a great place to see what you need to know and how to do it, be wary of taking multiple courses or long expensive courses as you can gain valuable experience for free.
The wider resources available – some courses on this list include downloadable PDF checklists and guides that can be used in a hospitality business and workbooks to support you through the course. Look out for these as you can refer back to them and refresh your memory instead of retaking the course.
How much does it cost?
The courses on this list range from completely free to $59.99, with most priced at $29.99. The two Coursera courses are free so long as you do not require certification. If you do, you can upgrade for a fee (usually around $49).
The European Bartender School offers a course bundle for $109.99, which includes one of our top picks: the Essentials of Bartending as well as tiki cocktails, advanced bartending and craft flair classes.
How long does it take to learn hospitality?
The courses on this list are between 1 hour 37 minutes and 14 hours. Some specific courses are under 4 hours, with more comprehensive courses taking between 9 hours and 14 hours.
Due to the practical skills required in hospitality there is a limit on what can be learnt online. However, after completing a course in your chosen area, it is achievable to complete a first shift in hospitality before deciding if it’s right for you.
It is important to mention that the advantage of taking an online course is you can work at your own pace. If you are interested in a specific area such as bartending or customer service then many lectures can be skipped, drastically reducing the time needed to complete the class.
If you’re considering pursuing a career in hospitality, the courses recommended above will give you an introduction to the roles in the industry and the range of skills needed.
For the basics and then some, we recommend Arthur Bairamukov’s Hotel Management: Hospitality and Service course. It explains the structure and hierarchy of a hotel, key terminology used in the industry as well as guidance on good customer service.
If you’re looking for a walk through from beginner to advanced then the Essentials of Bartending class by the European Bartending School is the course for you. It’s a hands-on program where you’re expected to put your new skills into practice and comes with study notes to keep you on track as well as an internationally recognised certificate of completion.
For those with experience in the hospitality industry our top recommendation is Food Safety for Managers and Supervisors. This course covers the entire Highfield Level 3 Food Safety Training syllabus and will teach you everything you need to know about food hygiene.
Best Online Hospitality Courses: FAQs
Our top pick is Arthur Bairamukov’s Hotel Management: Hospitality and Service course, which covers essentials such as hotel structure whilst also offering more advanced guidance on customer service.
The courses in this list range from completely free to $59.99, with most priced at $29.99.
The classes outlined in this list range from 1 hour 37 minutes to 14 hours, with more focussed courses taking under 3 hours.
Holly is a student reading geography at King’s College London. In her free time she enjoys cooking, travelling and photography. She loves to learn new things particularly in the mental health and medicine field.