Anthony Melchiorri has said one of the motivations for his “Hotel Impossible” TV show was to peel back the curtain on the lodging industry, to help bring the word “hotelier” into this country’s lexicon and make it a job people strive for. I thought of this as I watched the CNBC special on Marriott International last night, a day after it first aired, but also the same day our featured story online was titled, “Travel Industry Jobs Provide Path to Middle Class.”
There’s always a steady stream of bad press for the hotel industry (bed bugs, safety issues, cleanliness, the anti-luxury AIG Effect, to name just a few), but those TV shows and the report from the U.S. Travel Association reveal what I’ve come to learn covering the hotel industry the last five years. It really is a great place to work, with plenty of opportunity.
The USTA’s study was of the entire travel industry — including airlines, restaurants, travel agencies, museums and more — and showed workers achieved higher wages, have greater access to educational opportunities and enjoy better career progression than most industries. A fun exercise would be to ask the executives at some of the biggest hotel companies where they got their start. Wyndham CEO Eric Danziger worked as a bellman, Best Western CEO David Kong started as a bus boy and Roger Dow, the head of the USTA, had a summer job as a lifeguard at a Marriott hotel. I’m sure there are hundreds of similar stories, if not more.
The USTA’s study shows two out of five workers whose first job was in the travel industry are now earning more than $100,000. The hotel industry offers seasonal work, part-time work, jobs for high school graduates and those with advanced college degrees. There really is something for everyone.
It’s incredibly hard work, no doubt, but it can be equally as fun and rewarding. I’m glad the public has gotten a glimpse through those TV shows of what I’ve seen firsthand.