The following interview was conducted by Tisch Center student worker, Haley Park.
What is your background?
As a young man in college, my dream was to obtain a law degree and work with the United Nations or the US Foreign Service as an Ambassador, but while I was in school, I decided to work in hotels because they operate 24 hours a day with flexible shifts to accommodate my college schedules. While I was in the hotel industry, I was getting promoted and felt that there was a need for me to excel in the industry because I really enjoyed it. I then enrolled in the hospitality program at NYU. After the program, I realized the industry had changed becoming more real estate driven. In other words, I came to the realization that it was necessary that I learn more about real estate in addition to taking care of the guests and associates. The buildings of hotels are typically owned by individuals, families, or companies so I felt that it was necessary to learn that aspect of the industry. Therefore, I decided to take additional courses to learn more about this part of the business and to my surprise, I started meeting so many high-level people and felt like I was doing my job as an Ambassador anyway.
What is your current role at Marriott?
I am the Market Director of Diplomatic & Community Relations for the New York City Marriott Hotels and serve as a key emissary to the General Managers of the hotels. This role includes specialized responsibilities such as cultivating relationships with Dignitaries, Celebrities, and all other VIP guests, and working with the City, State, and National Agencies to assist the hotels in their operations within the community.
Can you share an anecdote of your most memorable experience during your time at Marriott?
My most memorable experience was during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001 because the attacks and collapses were the first time aircrafts had been used as weapons of mass effect. As a member of the New York City Marriott Hotels’ crisis management team and also having great relationships with the City, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies, I was faced with gathering intelligence to assist the hotels in protecting our guests, associates, and assets. It was also an effort to determine whether or not the hotels should be evacuated or stay put, as we could not depend solely on the City Government’s Emergency Response systems due to the high volume of calls they received as a result of the mishaps. Thus, my job during that time was to ascertain that information to make sound judgement.
In the non-credit course that you teach, Understanding Hotel Operations: Front Desk and Guest Services, what are the objectives and goals?
While people skills remain crucial to the success of a hotel, operating hotel properties has evolved into a blend of high tech and high touch due to the rapid changes of the guests and patrons’ wants and needs. Today’s managers make challenging decisions on what to be and what to offer to whom, while sustaining the properties efficiency and profitability. This hands-on intensive course discusses the different roles, responsibilities, services, professional, and etiquette, involved in hotel Front Desk operations. The course also highlights the Types of Hotels, Levels of Hotel Ownership, Management Structures, Hotel Organizational Structure, Revenue and Cost Centers, The Guest Cycle, Reservations, Registration and Check-Outs/Settlements, Front Desk Functions, Guest Services Departments and Functions.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Although the hospitality industry is fascinating because you meet different people and learn from various cultures, it can also be demanding because it operates 24 hours, 365 days a year. Therefore, I recommend the following qualities, which makes one a great hospitality employee: Respect, Commitment, Consistency, Flexibility, Communication Skills, Leadership Skills, Teamwork, Humility, Knowledge of Safety/Security, and Hygiene Issues. I like to use the analogy that a hotel is like a little baby. Just like you wouldn’t take your eyes off of a little baby, you shouldn’t keep your eyes off of a hotel. It’s also required that you are flexible and committed. This business requires that.