The next generation

The next generation

A couple weekends ago I had the privilege of attending the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality National Conference along with some of my colleagues on behalf of Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. We are an industry partner with this amazing organization that not only promotes diversity and inclusion within our industry, but also offers a number of valuable resources for all individuals within the field of hospitality, especially college students looking get into the workforce. Since I am an alumnus of the organization I went to speak on a panel about “Managing Different Generations” of people, as well as assist in our recruiting efforts. 

Being that I was at this conference a year ago as a student it was very interesting to have a different perspective. One thing I really wanted to gauge was the mindset of the students that were attending and how attainable their goals were coming out of college. As expected, I met a lot of students who want to go into sales, marketing and PR (the glamorous side of our industry, as I like to call it). When they would tell me that I would always ask them the same question: “How do you expect to get there?” The majority of the time I received a blank face and a lot of stammering. Companies don’t just hire these managers out of college like some students would like to believe. My advice to them was to broaden their horizons in terms of short-term career options. I tried to explain to them that moving into positions in sales and marketing is much easier when you are already in the position within the organization rather than entering as a new manager. Some understood; others, I’m sure, didn’t want to hear it.  

I encouraged open-mindedness being that our industry offers an array of possibilities and options in terms of career choice ? from accounting to engineering to MIS to sales, just to name a few. Once people realize how broad this industry truly is, they start to do their research and figure out that it can be a great fit for many career choices.
Of course, I met a lot of students who wanted to own their own business, and I applaud the entrepreneurial spirit. I encourage it in every way possible, because I too have a goal of opening my own property or properties, but knowledge and experience are keys to success, and I wanted to make that very clear to them. The majority of students who wanted their own business had F&B concentrations. I was glad to hear that many of them knew how tough it was to run a profitable restaurant and also how many of them knew the failure rate for restaurants. Kudos to the professors who drill this information in!     

To relate to them more personally I shared my own career goals. The part of this industry that intrigues me the most is the real estate and development side. This is because I began investing in real estate in college and saw how lucrative it could be if you are smart about it. Although I had some experience in the area I did not expect to hop out of college and start conducting feasibility studies and consulting about the next great travel destination, because I simply do not know enough. I need to take steps to acquire the knowledge to get there. This involves going to grad school, studying the real estate market, keeping up with the latest trends and news involving the industry and, most importantly, staying determined. Right now the best way to get to where I’m heading is by understanding how this industry operates through operational experience.  

For example:
  • How can I determine how many keys a property should have if I do not know how a hotel operates once built? 
  • How can I gauge a certain market if I do not know what it values?
  • How can I devise a strategic comp set if there’s no substantial knowledge of how different segments of the hotel industry operate?
Answer: I can’t.  

Everyone knows that operations can be very discouraging, but nobody starts at the top. I plead with my fellow young hoteliers to be determined in the present, focused on the future and vigilant in your efforts to achieve your goals while still being a realist. We are the next generation of hoteliers, and we have a bright future ahead of us, but only if we take the steps to create it!