From time to time I like to write about different jobs in the hospitality industry because, well, there are tons of them. So many, in fact, that I always tell people if you are unhappy with your current hospitality position you have no one to blame but yourself because all you need to do is look around and spread your wings – fly right,turn left, look up, then down. There is such a variety of jobs under this broad category that I could write about a different one every day of the week and you and I both would still be learning . But, I’m not going to do that because, well, frankly that might get boring. Plus, I’m not a headhunter (please don’t start sending me your resumes), so I’m going to spare you the details of Hospitality Jobs 101 and go straight to some of the more interesting ones. Please consider this part of the advanced course.
Many of us are already up to our turkey necks with food prep for the big holiday ahead, so reading another blog post about pumpkin pies and cranberry sauce might not seem too important right now. Go ahead and thank me for avoiding same because that’s not what this story is about. Instead, I want to focus on a different food issue. The one some people turn a blind eye to.
More specifically, hunger in our own neighborhoods, in people we meet and pass each day within our own communities.
If you’re reading this right now you probably aren’t worried about where your next meal is coming from. In fact, you might be hard pressed to even remember what it feels like to be hungry, and I’m not referring to that gap between your last Starbucks and the chicken salad you bought for lunch. I’m talking about to honest to goodness hunger pains that start to take over your stomach first, then your mental state of mind when you’ve only had one meal in the last two days. Or, maybe none at all.
I know I am, and if you think you’ve already heard enough about that tropical island sitting a mere 100 miles [+-] due South of us here in Florida you need to get ready to hear more – lots more, because this new détente between our two countries is serious business. Especially in the hospitality industry.
Why? Well, let me illustrate what I mean: imagine you’re an explorer discovering an island, unchartered territory if you will, that has built-in mystique and appeal to tourists who (because living here in Central Florida) we know absolutely positively will buy anything and go anywhere and endure any hardships whatsoever in the name of travel.
If so, there’s plenty to choose from, especially here in Orlando. And in particular if you’re one of the many, many people who actually put this sentence on your resume or job application: “I’m such a PEOPLE person, I know I’ll be perfect for this job! People just LOVE me!” Well go ahead, gag all you want, but some people, and you know who you are, really do put this on their job application. But good news for all you people-lovers, because guess what? Seriously, what kind of jobs are out there that don’t require some form of interaction with actual live human beings at some point? (Okay, I do recognize that there are a lot of virtual workers in the world now; but still, even those jobs must require just a tad of playing-nice-with-people-when-necessary, right?)
Having some fun this week in the spirit of Halloween, so I’m sharing some shortened versions of “scary event stories” that have happened to professionals, myself included, who work in this industry. To be clear, these stories are all true. But, in the spirit of ‘protecting the innocent’, I’m not divulging any names/places. Not now. Not never!
What I can tell you is that as a veteran planner in this industry, there’s no need to make this stuff up because crazy things really do happen all the time, everywhere meetings and events are held. And yes, even here in Orlando. Just ask any one of the over 200,000 hospitality employees that live and work here.
Keeping up with industry buzzwords, I learned recently that we have left the SERVICE economy behind us and are now in the EXPERIENCE economy. (Technically, this happened a few years back. For data and details, check out the book The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore that was last updated in, um. 2011. Full Disclosure: Not the first time I’ve been late to the party. Just sayin’ .) Anyway, here in the wonderful world of hospitality we still believe that service is king, oh yes we do! But, the current challenge is to find more and better ways of providing excellent service experiences at the same time that we’re embracing unemotional systems, policies and procedures.
To put it in a hospitality-hotel nutshell, if you’re smoking your iPhone and are addicted to technology (yes, you out there, currently tapping your thumbs on your you-know-what), do you really want or care about that smile delivered with your room key at hotel check in, or would you prefer to bypass human interaction at the front desk and unlock your room with an app that you’ve downloaded on your very own hand-held piece of legal crack (aka iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Nokia Lumia, or whatever you’ve got)?
I do, and in fact every job I’ve had during my adult professional career has been grounded in it. Further, each job I’ve held has allowed me to conquer the learning curve, and then provided a springboard to the next opportunity; and that seems to be the pattern of everyone I know who is gainfully employed in the wonderful, sometimes wacky world of hospitality. The job possibilities are [almost] endless, especially here in Orlando, and since I’m a perfect example of going all over the map in this industry, I’ll share with you some of the more interesting positions I’ve held…