You want to work in Hospitality?…Why?

I’ve worked in this industry pretty much my entire life. My family owns a small Inn and so this is pretty much the family business. I haven’t really known anything else. I thought about being lots of other things growing up. I think it went somewhat in this order, a Ninja, a Starship Captain, a Superhero, a Scientist, a Writer, a Lawyer, and then finally a Hotelier. Yeah, it was pretty much like that. Why couldn’t I have been a Starship Captain? All those hot alien babes out there waiting for me to show them my Captain’s Log. Sigh.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Where was I? Oh yeah. Anyways, working in Hotels is all I’ve ever really known. It wasn’t necessarily a forgone conclusion, but the probability was strong. Don’t get me we wrong, I love this business. I think about living in cubicle land and working a Monday through Friday 8 to 5 and I shudder a little. I would get so bored if I was stuck at one desk all day long except for the occasional meeting. I did that for part of my internship in school when I was getting experience in the accounting department at a large city hotel. The office had no windows! I’d got 8 or 9 hours without seeing sunlight. At my job now, if I get bored or feel like I’ve been at my desk too long, I get up and do a little “managing by walking around” As it is my GM tell me I spend too much time at my desk!

What prompted this post is that a large part of my current position is that I’m the primary hiring manager for my department. And since I work at a small property, means that I don’t have some unfortunate HR person that screens resumes for me. I have to read – OK skim – every resume that gets submitted for my department. I’ve fortunately filled the position we had open, but resumes are still trickling in. I’ve been told I’m a harsh judge or resumes, but I really don’t think so. When your resume says “Profeciency in Microsoft Publisher, Word, Opera Fidelo Express & other programsm” I can’t help but roll my eyes a little. And then you go into my “No” folder, usually with some commentary about why you’re failing (even if there’s no one around). I plan on doing a more in-depth post about my “Folder of Shame” as I some times call my No folder, and how some people make it in there. Before you say anything, I know this Blog isn’t typo free, but at least I know what the little red lines under my words means!

Having just gone through the flood of mostly garbage resumes that come in every time we post an open position, it does raise a question. Why does anyone want to work in the hotel business?

Yeah, I know it’s a crap economy out there and jobs are scarce. People pretty much apply for anything they feel they might even be remotely qualified. Often they apply over and over and over again. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing the same 3 or 4 names pop up every time I’m collecting resumes. Or people email, fax, and hand deliver their resume. One method of transmission is really alright. I went through the same struggle to find the job that I’m in now. I know what you all are going through. And for all my being a stickler about formatting, and typos, and including pictures of yourself (please don’t by the way), what I look for most when hiring is HOTEL EXPERIENCE. It’s really that important that it deserved to be in all CAPS. My most successful hires so far have all had prior hotel experience. I know it’s a catch-22, how do I get hotel experience to start with? I fell right into it. Basically you have to be lucky enough to find someone that’s willing to take a risk on you. Or you find one of the true “entry-level” positions at a hotel, and I don’t mean the Front Desk. Or you start out at the lower end of the industry and work your way up in service level. I’ve even found that other customer service experience like retail and restaurant work doesn’t truly cut it at the Front Desk. It helps, but not all the skills are transferable.

I met people in my program at school, the Hospitality Management program, that had zero experience in the industry. It blew my mind, and I quickly understood why we had required internships as part of the degree. Usually after the first one several people changed majors, because this industry really isn’t for everyone.

Let’s start with the Cons

  • Long hours
  • Sometimes having to be the party pooper
  • Late hours
  • Working weekends
  • Working holidays, sometimes all of them
  • Snotty/uppity/crazy/rude guests
  • Cleaning up other people’s messes, with a smile
  • Bursts of intense activity followed by long dull drags of boring nothingness
  • Weird sleep schedules
  • Getting to watch everyone else have a good time while you work
  • Getting blamed for stuff that you had nothing to do with

When you decide to work in the hospitality industry, you have all of these things to look forward to, and more.

Still there? Really? Why? OK, well there are Pros to this business too. It’s not all bad, but you have to be the kind of person that finds the Pros far more fulfilling then you find the Cons frustrating. And those closest to you have to accept some of the Cons as well. My fiancĂ©e still hates my work schedule, and I really don’t blame her.

  • Finding fulfillment in giving other people satisfaction and maybe even happiness.

Yup. That’s pretty much it. Probably the only universal one there is. There are other ones that apply to me only, but that’s the biggest one. If you can’t build your professional life around that singular notion then turn around and run away from this business as fast as you can! I’ve met people who have been in this business a little too long, that either never had that quality or had lost it, they’re usually bitter and angry people.

That being said, what else do I find fulfilling about this business?

  • Problem solving, every day I find I’m faced with new problems and challenges.
  • Being surrounded by beauty. I’ve generally chosen to work at properties that are destinations. Places that people save up all year to visit, and I get paid to be here.
  • Great stories. My coworkers, my bosses, my guests they all give me great stories to tell.

I’m the first to admit, there are way more Cons than Pros. I feel like the Pros are just bigger than the Cons though, and if you enjoy the Pros enough, the Cons don’t seem like problems most of the time. And really, the only way to figure these things out is to just do it in someway. There’s that Catch-22 again, because most people don’t want to let you do it unless you’ve already done it. When I see that someone has hotel experience on their resume, and they’re applying for a job with me, I know that they likely have already figured some of this out. I’ve seen people without experience that got a shot break down to actual tears by the end of their 2nd day of training. I don’t have time for that.

And let me tell you, The Money just isn’t on either list. There’s money to be made in this business absolutely, but you have to work and fight and claw your way to it unless your last name is Hilton or Marriott or Four Seasons (OK maybe not that one). I’m on a track to get to that money, but there are easier ways to get there. I’ve seen them, and if you aren’t interested and a little bit excited by the prospect of that one big Pro, then you should go for those other paths to money. Then come back and buy a hotel once you have it. You can pay someone like me to run it for you.

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  1. #1 by HoaiPhai on October 11, 2011 - 12:16 AM

    Great post and inside look at the industry!

    • #2 by hotelnerd on October 13, 2011 - 7:34 PM

      Thanks! That’s what I try to make this all about.

  2. #3 by The Hook on December 19, 2011 - 4:35 AM

    This should be in a manual somewhere! At the very least, it should have been Freshly Pressed! This post is actually ABOUT SOMETHING, and that counts for everything.
    Well done. my fellow hotel worker.

    • #4 by hotelnerd on December 19, 2011 - 7:33 AM

      I agree it should have been Freshly Pressed! Alas I toil on in obscurity, and as always total humility.

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