A guide to surviving the rest of COVID-19
A guide to surviving the rest of COVID-19
11 NOVEMBER 2020 8:55 AM

What hoteliers can do to for the next 18 to 24 months will prepare them for their future.

Much has been written about the devastation COVID-19 has had on the hotel industry. This column will offer suggestions and opportunities on how mid- to entry-level managers can act now to prepare themselves for success in the new hospitality world. Numerous opportunities exist today for young leaders who want a rewarding career in this dynamic and ever-changing industry.

Your opportunities
There are things you can do now to enhance/diversify your experience and position yourself to be at the forefront of the new hospitality experience. We believe that:

  • Successful new industry leaders will emerge by realizing there are no sacred cows or status quo, and they are already adapting. Think outdoor experiences/dining, new housekeeping standards, in-room guest amenities, socially distanced events and contactless technology enhancements.
  • Guests will continue to demand authentic and exceptional experiences along with enhanced safety and cleanliness.
  • The future of meetings is yet to be written, but it will likely include some combination of live and virtual meetings frequently combined in the same event.

If you are new or newer to a career in hotels, you may have flexibility to pivot and more easily accept different or changing roles, broadening your experience. Be willing to work in any and many departments, including housekeeping. This time is a fantastic opportunity to broaden your resume.

If you are currently unemployed, there are similar industries you might consider. Hospitality people are sought after by numerous verticals due to their service orientation, profit-making skills and working in an environment that is live. There are career choices in these and similar industries now. Examples to consider:

  • Apartment communities, vacation rentals and the ski industry offer opportunities for operations and leasing/sales.
  • Country club management is hot. According to Matt Peterson, managing director with AETHOS Consulting Group, “In this current environment, clubs are capturing more of their members’ time by elevating the F&B offerings, providing entertainment, fitness and social events while maintaining social distancing and ‘safe’ protocols. There is no better time than the present for hoteliers to broaden their career mindset to include private clubs.”
  • Restaurants are an obvious option; however, opportunities may be limited.
  • Retirement communities and senior living facilities have had success hiring hotel leaders at all levels. We know of several hotel sales managers that have recently made this change.
  • The world of adventure/experiential travel, such as glamping or Pursuit by Viad Corp., continues to grow.

For meeting and event professionals, focus on your project management skills. Those can apply in a variety of places. If you have not acquired virtual event production skills, go for it. There are literally hundreds of jobs open now in this space.

Here are some hospitality thoughts to consider:

  • Seasonal resort managers and staff have long led nomadic lives following the business to locations that are in peak season, such as spending summers at New England beach properties and heading to ski resorts in the winter.
  • Leaders/managers/trainees willing to travel and/or task force present multiple opportunities to remain with current employers, expand experience and prepare themselves for the future. If your company offers you a task force or temporary assignment, accept it if your circumstances allow, even if it is in a lesser role or in an area you have no experience. It might provide multiple benefits.

As a great example that recently took place, one brand with the promise of a strong summer in a drive market resort was facing a significant labor shortage. Their plan solved the resorts’ labor issue and protected some of their future leaders. They assembled more than 50 task force members from around the country. Many were in the management training program who took hourly roles and could have been let go or furloughed as companies reduced costs.

The results:

  • The resort had a solid summer season.
  • The company protected their future leaders.
  • Task force workers got valuable experience.
  • Some were placed permanently at the resort while others returned to their home hotel.

Think of these opportunities as an extended interview and a way of expanding your network.

Being at the front line of the hospitality industry reinventing itself can provide valuable experience for those committed to a career in this dynamic industry. It can also provide accelerated career advancement opportunities. We recommend having a better than positive attitude at work. Negativity can be rampant at many hospitality businesses in times like these.

This represents an awesome chance to “bring positive energy” and show your leadership. The new models of hospitality will require new standards, practices, procedures and job combinations to adapt and absorb the additional costs that hotels, resorts and restaurants face. Operating models are evolving to drive efficiency while providing a safe environment giving guests the confidence they are seeking as travel ramps up and properties find new ways to deliver great experiences.

You should not expect to find your dream job right now. It probably does not exist today, but based on what you do now, it very well may tomorrow. Give the industry 12 to 24 months to come back. You just make it to the other side.

We predict a talent shortage of epic proportion within two years. So much talent has been absorbed into other professions. It will be great to be in hospitality when we recover.

Carl Winston is Dean of the Payne School of Hospitality at San Diego State University. Scott Hermes is the former President of Irvine Company Resorts and an executive with Starwood, Hyatt, and Marriott Hotels.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

1 Comment

  • Robert Rauch November 11, 2020 7:07 PM Reply

    Well done, Carl and Scott. Are you able to get permission from HNN to post on LinkedIn and Facebook hospitality group pages?

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