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A Little Hospitality Goes a Long Way: Tips from the Trenches on How to Succeed in the Hotel Industry

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The hospitality industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation for non-technical people. Individuals with good people skills can have excellent careers in hospitality-at all levels.

At the entry level, there are always opportunities. For a person seeking a career in hospitality, it is critical that he or she understand and appreciate as many facets of the operation as possible. If you start out at the front desk, for example, you’ll quickly understand how one department interacts with another since they are all in daily contact. Knowledge is power-be powerful and learn.

Those employees who truly care about people, are outwardly friendly, and have positive, “can-do” attitudes move to the front of the line. A big smile goes a long way in the hospitality business. On the management side, people who demonstrate "problem-solving" capabilities and are team players/builders emerge as leaders. When they also possess customer-service skills, they lead by example, and the business flourishes.

Hotels are 24/7, and when it comes to “crunch time,” everyone needs to pitch in-often performing duties outside their typical job descriptions. If people are needed to deliver gift baskets, carry luggage, park cars, hose off patios, or pick up cigarette butts, everyone needs to work together as a team to accomplish the overall goal of superior customer service. By modeling this guest-centric philosophy on a daily basis, our resort received the highly coveted AAA Four Diamond rating a mere six months after we opened and also received the Radisson President’s Award in the first year of operation.

Fifteen years ago, there were three categories of hotels-economy, midscale, and upscale/luxury. Now, those categories have subcategories, which means more and more hotels in all categories are being built throughout the United States. This translates to greater employment opportunities. Naturally, a job at a limited service hotel will pay less than one at a luxury resort, so one employment trend is to start out somewhere, learn the vocabulary of the business (you can only think within your vocabulary), and then move upwards.

Internships are often available for college students who are majoring in hospitality, as well as for hourly employees who display great potential. An individual will typically be “developed” over an 18 to 24-month period by spending several months in each of the key functional areas within the hotel (engineering, housekeeping, rooms, food and beverage, etc.) After each "tour of duty,” students are tested before advancing to the next department. This provides them with comprehensive views of hotel operations and also enables them to discover which particular hospitality niches are right for them.

Opportunities for advancement are always there, but they are not necessarily advertised on bulletin boards. Do your job. Do it well. Be a team player. Be supportive. Be positive. Be reliable. And work your tail off, and the opportunities will come.

About the Author

A senior hotel executive with more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Charles “Topper” Van Every has served as director of strategic marketing for the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort & Casino in Scottsdale, AZ, since September 2004. In this capacity, he is responsible for directing the overall marketing strategies for both this resort and the Radisson Poco Diablo in Sedona, AZ, which includes all media placements and design, Internet strategies, and public-relations initiatives. Previous hotels and resorts at which Topper has held senior level positions include the Pointe Resorts, Embassy Suites, and the Sunburst Resort.
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 hospitality industry  luxury resort  management  United States  Radisson President  hotels  careers in hospitality  internships  industry  nation

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