Hospitality Hive

Updates, opinions, and news for anyone working in Orlando's Hospitality community

Which Way to the Lobby Bar?

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I do love me a good hotel lobby bar, and yes, living here in Orlando we’ve got a plethora of great ones to choose from, so lucky us!  But I wonder how many locals take advantage of this chic and oftentimes cultured opportunity?  What’s that, you’re asking?  Where’s the ‘opportunity’ in a local having to shed the flip-flops (please?) and drive all the way out to park themselves in the middle of the insanely populated tourist and convention flow (eeuw!)  just to pony up to a bar?  Let me count the ways:

  1. A chance to experience the ambience of international travel without leaving home, no passport (or TSA lines) needed.
  2. The feel of sophistication (most hotel patrons in the lobby bar are at least one jump ahead of the ‘let’s shed the normal clothes and show this town what real tacky tourists wear!’), jet setting (almost everyone has arrived from parts unknown), and just a little mystique (“where do you suppose they came from?”) as you sip on your properly made cocktail.
  3. A properly made cocktail.  In fact, most customary or standard cocktails can trace their origin to some famous hotel lobby bartender who invented it for some famous hotel patron.
    Fancy Schmancy Bartender Mixing a Proper Manhattan

    Fancy Schmancy Bartender Mixing a Proper Manhattan

 

4.  A smartly uniformed bartender who (for the most part) appreciates his/her well-heeled patrons and knows exactly what type of service will meet or exceed their expectations (RE encourage the guest to return for another visit each night during their stay).

5.  Built in entertainment, with or without any music, via the revolving glass door of interesting patrons (although it should be noted that many a hotel lobby bar does indeed provide musical entertainment “for your listening pleasure”, meaning one can actually converse and hear a conversation while said entertainment is performing).

And this is just a starter list.

Now I know in the bubble presently circling above some of your heads there are objections swirling like hotel bars overcharge on their drinks! What if I have to pay for parking? And (a personal favorite that I’ve heard many times before), what’s the point of going to a hotel if you can’t steal the soap?  Well, I really need to find about a dozen more ways to say this, but most hotel lobby bars are just way cool.  So much so in fact that from time to time I author a blog post called appropriately, From the Lobby Bar, and yes, this would be one of those posts.  Sometimes I let you in on my location, and other times I might leave you guessing.

This woman looks comfy but lonely - NOT your typical hotel bar!

This woman looks comfy but lonely – NOT your typical hotel bar!

Today I’ll make it easy for you and share that I’m on the North East end of Orlando (aka Altamonte Springs, although you’ll never see that city listed in the hotel brochures because in the world of hospitality, all hotels that do not have an official Orlando address are given an honorary one in their marketing campaign) in a well-established business hotel that has thrived despite changing names more than a few times since opening many years ago.  This lobby bar even has an official name, Celestial Lounge, although I only knew that from seeing it posted on the website, not from anything posted in the Sheraton Orlando North’s lobby (www.sheratonorlandonorth.com) , which is fine by me because really, a hotel lobby bar is well, a bar.  In my opinion, it doesn’t need anything beyond great barstools or comfy seating, an excellent bartender and servers, and, um, really good bourbon.   (Again, personal preference.)  This lobby bar gets my seal of approval because:  comfy seating, excellent service, and my good friend, Jack Daniels (www.jackdaniels.com) is here.  Also for some cool things like the dancing waterfall and expansive, well-lit atrium area.  And while this place caters more to the business traveler than the attraction-weary tourists, it still has a great vibe and warm environment.  Oh, and no parking charge!

So, if you like to travel and also enjoy a good adult beverage but don’t have the trip money on hand, just take a short drive to any of the fabulous hotels here in Orlando and find a barstool you can take ownership of, at least for a short journey.  Keeping in mind that travel, no matter how near or far, is a strainer for sifting through other cultures and you might enjoy this journey.

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Do You Work In the Hospitality Industry?

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:

*Hotel Front Desk Clerk [And yes, I do highly recommend starting here on your career opening round]

*International Flight Attendant [And since you ask, the answer is yes again, another great launch pad with the bonus of a passport full of visas, and even better stories to tell in the end. . .]

*Trip Director [Ever try to corral 140 people plus their +-700 pieces of luggage and personal carry on items into multiple busses and then try to keep their attention while you explain at least 140 times why they should have gone to the bathroom before they got on board? Yes, that’s the glamorous side of being a trip director]

*Meeting Planner [Think of every meeting, event, or convention you’ve ever attended and ponder for a minute just who put the thing together from booking the speakers to printing the name tags, and you’ll have some idea of the tasks covered by this job]

*Attraction Sales and Marketing [No, you don’t get to just enjoy super cool rides all day but yes, you sometimes do sneak out there under the guise of ‘sparking creativity’]

But in between the above there were also the following:  Parking lot attendant [overtime hours, baby!] and speaking of babies, child-sitter for kids of tourists [hey, when the money’s good. . .], running a cash register in, well, one of the busiest spots for running a cash register in the entire universe [yes, it is that busy out there on Main Street], rolling out the red carpet [figuratively and literally] for VIP events and their ‘worldy’ attendees,  escorting VIPs [that sometimes really aren’t so VIP after all but they sure think they are], providing meet and greet services at airports all over the map for travelers [big and small], setting up complicated exhibit booths that frankly could have challenged master engineers [hint, always travel with duck tape if assigned this job], mystery hotel shopper [okay, I admit, that one is fun!], and so much more.  But, I think/hope you get the picture here about the wide variety of jobs and opportunities in this industry.  And I’ve only scratched the surface of what it offers, especially here in Orlando, but also in most every tourist destination around the world.

You see, the hospitality industry is vitally linked to tourism, and these days just about every place on the planet thinks they are the latest, greatest, and most hip travel destination since the skis first hit the water at the [late-great] Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, FL. Case in point, just last summer I had a chance to visit Croatia, yes-CROATIA – and guess what newly formed European country is welcoming huge numbers of annual visitors and spreading out the welcome mat for each and every one of them?  Yep, the correct answer would be Croatia, and prior to my visit I wasn’t even sure where it was let alone what a positive and lasting impression it would have on me.

So, if you already work in the hospitality industry I assume you have some idea of the vast variety of jobs that are within reach, maybe even within 4-5 degrees of separation between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.  And while I’m not saying this industry is for everyone [see previous post about the need for believing in that ‘must like people’ mantra you put on your resume] it certainly does tick off a lot of boxes for those seeking a wider perspective of the universe.  As Jack Kerouac once said, “The road is life,” and in the world of hospitality, it’s the journey on that road that makes getting to the destination so very interesting.

So, what about you?  Do you work in this industry and if so, what’s your position or maybe your dream job?  In this Hive we want to share the opportunities!

 

 

The Good, Bad and Downright Ugly About This Industry

GOOD= interesting jobs, great opportunities for upward movement, nice perks (when you get them), pretty darn good (mostly) work environments.

BAD= lower hourly pay (until you reach management level), potential for odd hours as we are a 24/7 industry, repetitious dealing with crazy tourists who are (sometimes) hot-tired-sunburned-angry at having to wait in another line-dressed like tourists who actually don’t care what they look like (and for the most part, we can’t argue with that belief, right?), etc., etc., etc.

UGLY= repetitious dealing with crazy tourists.  Oh, did I already mention that?  Well, it’s worth repeating.  Again.

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So, why do so many of us like the wonderful world of hospitality?  Because the good outweighs the bad and ugly.  And because there are so many jobs in this area, not to mention the world at large, in the field of hospitality.  And, mostly because we are all ‘people-people’, at least that’s what we put on our resumes, right? Something to the effect of, “I just looove people, and it gives me great pleasure to be able to service them and be around them morning, noon, and night.” Or, something like that.  But sometimes (and, I’m sure this doesn’t apply to any of you, ahem) we only put it there on our resume because we think that’s what our potential employer wants and needs to see.  There, I said it.  Resumes can lie.  Which is exactly why anyone who is in a hiring position needs to look well beyond the written word (especially if your written words are misspelled on said resume, but I digress with that statement. . .) and look at the person as a whole.  Are they sincere?  Do they look self-assured and happy?  Do they seem like problem solvers, and well, um, people-pleasers?  Because really, what many, many hospitality jobs boil down to are two basic components:

1] Do they really like people, or are they just saying that to get a job? (Perhaps, the difference between, “Have a nice day!” and, “have a great frickin’ day, lady, and please never let me see your sorry face again here!”?)

2] Can this person think on their feet and make an effort to solve a problem or answer a question without reverting to ‘ugly hospitality employee’ tactics?

Of course there are many more components in the job search, but I’m here to tell you that no matter what your position in the hospitality industry you will almost always be dealing with people (and in our case here in Orlando that mostly means tourists and convention goers) in some capacity, so if you can’t get over #1 then it’s fairly likely that you won’t pass the test of #2.   Further, let’s be honest here.  The act of actually liking people is not easily taught.  You either do or you don’t.  (Although, it should be noted that you can be taught to not like people, and that usually happens after you’ve been on the job for a while and then realized that BOOM! People are nuts!  Some of them are downright crazy whack-a-doos, and you don’t want anything more to do with them.  Don’t laugh, it happens all the time!)

So, where am I going with this?  Back to the great land of job opportunity located right here in Orlando, aka the wonderful world of hospitality, which, by the way, basically means friendliness.  So, it stands to reason that a basic tenet for anyone seeking employment in the fields of hotels, travel, tourism, attractions, restaurants, transportation, et al needs to take an oath of truthfulness before starting said job.  Physicians and lawyers do it before accepting their professional designations, so why not the friendliness community?  Something short, sweet and meaningful would be appropriate.

“I hereby accept that it is my responsibility to be friendly to you knowing that you are a tired traveler who has spent lots of your hard earned money to visit [my place of employment], and that by accepting your money I acknowledge that you are paying for my own job, along with those of many others.  Further, as long as you understand that it is always hot here in Orlando and there are always lines for everything including but not limited to the restrooms in every single location that you will visit, then I will do my best to smile and help you along this temporary journey through my little corner of the world.”

There now, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?  After said agreement is signed you could accept the job offer and be on your way to service with a smile, no matter the hour/day/point in time.

And, at the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, well, isn’t it better to deal with a friendly person than a hostile one?  In the ‘hospitality hive’ we prefer happy people, so there you have it.

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photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) via photopin cc