Millennials looking to enter the hotel industry should look to facilities management positions, which will offer them longevity in the business.
A recently released report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics outlining hotel industry job growth has provided us with a positive outlook, illustrating a 23% growth in job openings year over year. This same report also provided multiple metric dashboards and insights ranging from management versus non-management position growth, industry segment breakdowns and more.
The piece of information that stood out to me was the substantial demand for facilities management team members across the country. This discipline includes multiple departments such as housekeeping, engineering and pool/spa. With high demand matched with a rapidly declining supply of qualified applicants, this area is ripe for growth by up-and-coming millennials seeking positions in the hospitality industry.
Brandon M. Springer-McConnell
Facilities management is an area that requires specialized training and a keen skill set. For example, take the role of your property’s maintenance engineer. While we focus on creating the most elaborate welcome in the hotel’s lobby or registration process, we know that even the best of smiles will not overcome anger guests feel when they don’t have hot water, when the TV remote isn’t working, when lighting is out or when a pool is closed. If you ask GMs what keeps them up at night, it is the fear of a facilities failure or emergency.
Having the right team or key point person who has the knowledge to help prevent such emergencies and to maintain a proper preventive maintenance program is critical. On any given day, your maintenance team will be presented with multiple tasks that could range from heating, ventilation and air conditioning breakdowns to painting needs, from caulking to electrical work and, yes, the most common call of them all: plumbing issues.
This skill set, along with hands-on experience, can be learned many ways. Trade schools across the country, for example, offer one- and two-year degree programs that provide the right tools to cultivate a career. Another way is joining industry associations specific to hotels and facilities management that offer continued education opportunities.
Remember how I eluded earlier to high demand and low supply? If you were to look at one of the top industry job boards right now and search for maintenance positions, you would find more than 300 front-line and 100 management roles posted.
If you go to that same online job board, you will find an astonishing long list of more than 700 front-line and 300 management roles within the other side of facilities management: housekeeping. While there are not many specific formal education classes to provide housekeeping how-tos, it is important to use brand-provided training and identify your all-stars within this department. Great housekeepers are like great night auditors, if you find one, do everything you can to grow and build your team around him or her.
While it is not thought of as the most glamorous in the hotel industry, facilities roles are vital to high guest satisfaction along with the overall profitable operation of any hotel. Housekeeping management and a comprehensive understanding of maintenance programs is a must for anyone looking to grow into a senior level operations management role in their career.
If I were to offer advice to millennials out there, start now and quickly grow your skill set and management résumé in these areas. You will find many of your competitors will not posses this background when you go to apply for that next promotion and that may give you the edge you need.
Brandon M. Springer-McConnell – CHA, CFBE, CHT currently is the National Chairman-Elect for the American Hotel & Lodging Association Gateway. He also is an active member on numerous national level boards and committees tackling challenges in all areas of operations and learning development. He was also a Disney Trainer and has worked with multiple national companies in leadership roles.
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