10 things hotel industry veterans wish they had known at the beginning of their careers
Working in the hotel industry is truly unique. It’s an opportunity to try a variety of jobs, meet lots of interesting people, enjoy some travel perks and rise quickly through the ranks to management. From casinos to spas to remote, exotic locales, it’s a job like no other. You learn most of your skills over time with experience, but according to some veteran professionals, there are some insights that would’ve been useful to know.
An HR Director, Housekeeping Manager and Front Desk Manager share insights they hope will give your career a boost and may even influence the direction you choose:
1. Be hands-on and help out. Because there are multiple departments in the hotel, it is important to get to know all of them well. It’s helpful to be hands-on and be open to jumping in to assist with all the jobs when the opportunity presents itself. Be willing to work any and all shifts. Different things happen during the night than during the day and on the weekends, too. Expose yourself to all the experiences that come your way.
2. Networking is really important. You never know who you’ll meet and what role they’ll play in your future. Go to events, meet vendors, volunteer on projects and get to know the people in your community from all walks of life.
3. Be organized. This seems like a little thing, but it plays a big part in the way you work, your ability to remain calm and centered while dealing with problems and presenting a confident, efficient and professional attitude. Being organized makes it easier to show up on time, have the appropriate uniform clean and ready to go and takes the stress out of daily routines.
4. Be open and willing to learn. When you’re first starting out in the hotel business, you can sometimes feel a little “above” doing certain jobs – maybe you’ve graduated from a hospitality program or have earned special certifications that others don’t have. However, you can learn something from anyone who is working in the hotel. Life experience teaches us all about getting along, being helpful and understanding the frustrations and challenges we all face. Be open and listen. Help out where and when you can.
5. Believe in the value of an internship. Working an internship is a valuable experience. That this opportunity to “try out” a position in a real-world setting and see how it fits. Even if it’s unpaid, it’s worth your time. You’ll learn about the day-to-day operations of your department and gain insight about the responsibilities, teamwork and skills you’ll need to succeed in the workforce when you’re hired.
6. Find a mentor. When you’re brand new in the industry, it’s really useful to find a mentor who will guide you and share some hard-won skills and tips to smooth the way. Find a veteran in your department who is willing to take you under his/her wing. Then listen and take advantage of their advice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use their expertise to make your job easier and boost your confidence… it will expand your skills more quickly so you can move on to bigger things.
7. Take time to decide what you want. You may be surprised that when you get the job you thought you wanted so badly, it may not be a good fit for you. Once you’re working in the hotel, take your time to decide what your next step is. While the hotel industry is known for rewarding hard work and you can rise quickly into management, don’t feel the need to rush. If you’re not sure what you’d like to do next, embrace this time to think about what you enjoy about your current job and where that might lead. It’s not a race. There are so many paths and you want to find the one that suits you best.
8. Treat everyone with respect. It may seem obvious, but these are golden words to live by. Whether you’re working with a difficult guest or a teammate that’s not pulling his weight, you have to remain calm and be respectful. Don’t let your past missteps define you or anyone else – we all change and grow. When you have the opportunity to give someone a little extra time and patience, don’t think twice.
9. Money isn’t everything. Don’t choose the most “glamorous” or sought-after job and don’t choose a job based simply on how much it pays. Early in your career, you need to find the right company to work for: one that offers learning opportunities, growth and connections that will further your career. Take your time and make the decisions that will serve you in the long term.
10. Always help your colleagues. It’s critical to your future success to find a way to get people to work together across departments for the common goal of increasing revenues and building a repeat guest clientele. In a hotel, so many people are working at different jobs to make the guests happy. If a team member is dealing with a problem and is tied up, step in to help and ensure things go smoothly. Take the time to learn about everyone’s job and communicate well – it goes a long way to being a good teammate.