Women in Lodging: Opportunity knocks
The opportunities for women in lodging are on the rise and there are a lot more resources available for women interested in excelling. With the recent developments in luxury industries such as cruise ships, full-service spas, and casinos, there are constantly more job openings and non-traditional positions available.
For years, the hotel industry was male-dominated, especially within the executive ranks. You can now find women in every functional position within the lodging market. The possibilities for women in the hospitality industry are infinite. Hcareers offers you an inside look at the future of women in the hotel and hospitality business from one of the most successful executive's perspective.
Women on the Move
Nancy Johnson, who now serves as brand leader for Radisson Hotels & Resorts, sees tremendous potential for growth and development for women in this market. "The hospitality industry is probably one of the easiest businesses to break into," she says. "This is an excellent career choice for someone coming in on the ground level, to work their way up. There are fantastic schools that will give you the initial training you need to succeed."
And she's speaking from experience. Nancy's story is one of inspiration and strength. Want to know how one of the most successful executives in lodging jumpstarted her career? She applied to work as a cocktail waitress in a hotel. Nancy needed a job that she could work at night while her 2 small children were sleeping. Initially, she had no idea how far she could climb the hotel corporate ladder, but Nancy welcomed every career challenge as an opportunity for professional development. During her eclectic career track within the hospitality industry, Nancy was employed as a Cocktail Waitress, Bartender, Hostess, Caterer, Hotel Specialist, Project Manager, Senior Vice-President of Development, Vice-President of Development, Senior Director of Franchise Development, and a number of other positions which eventually led to her current role as Executive President for Carlson Hotels Worldwide Full Service Hotels. Named one of the "200 Most Powerful Women in Travel" by Travel Agent magazine, Nancy Johnson has demonstrated the excellent opportunities the hotel industry has to offer.
The Future of Women in Lodging
As a spokeswoman for the Council for Women in Lodging, Nancy Johnson's efforts have placed gender issues at the forefront of things that need to be addressed in global hospitality markets. Nancy noticed that, "As the industry changed and smaller hotels developed, there were more female managers, but no visible women in executive positions." She decided to organize The Council for Women in Lodging, to push for more corporate advancement opportunities for women in the hospitality business.
The Council for Women in Lodging offers its members an accessible "Directory of Women Executives" and leadership seminars, to address topics that are pertinent to women in the hotel industry. Nancy recognizes that, "Students and workers need to be able to see a developmental path." Better training and professional development workshops can stimulate growth and opportunity for corporate progression, for female hospitality workers.
Everyone Benefits From a Diverse Staff
The hotel market is now witnessing a global change in the way women are treated. "Anyone in this industry can recognize the shrinking labor pool. Getting top talent is critical for business success. You need a diverse make-up in your employee base to represent your clientele." Nancy points out that, "Having a diverse staff demonstrates innovation, customer empathy, and knowledge to your customers."
Recent studies have revealed that women account for over 40% of travel business. With such a significant influence, women have more power over quality service and employee treatment than was realized. Focus groups and surveys are being conducted to determine experiences and ways to improve customer service, treatment, and opportunities for women in hotels and restaurants. When more companies recognize women want to see more representation in hotel management, we will see a significant shift in the hiring process.
There is still so much work to be done to address the needs of women in the hospitality industry. Women today are far more educated and experienced in corporate arenas, but are sometimes still looked at with skepticism. There are still a disproportionate percentage of women serving as hotel managers, directors, and executives. More female applicants need to be encouraged to take more initiative in applying for higher level positions within the hotel and restaurant business. "The opportunity to network is critical in this business," Nancy says. "We constantly need new education, new tools, and new skills with the ever-changing roles we play." She feels that if women have step-by-step instructions on how to prosper in this industry, they can focus on those goals in order to be the best candidates when new opportunities arise.
Nancy Johnson wants women everywhere to know that, "Today, you can be a president of a major hotel corporation. There is no glass ceiling that will keep you from what you are aspiring to be." The world will witness a change in the face of corporate hospitality over the next decade that will finally put the best candidates on the forefront, regardless of gender.