Hospitality Sales: Do What Comes Naturally

This is part one of a two-part series.

While at my son’s band performance the other day, somebody asked me how I ended up in hospitality sales. Without giving it much thought, I began to blurt out the standard cliché answers.

I like making money, I enjoy the challenge, I like being my own boss (well if only in mind anyway), and I like people.  But the more I played this back in my head and had time to reflect, the more I realized that I never did really answer the question. Yeah, I knew what I thought I enjoyed most about hospitality sales, but I had never really thought about the steps that had brought me to this point.

I didn’t study hospitality sales/management in college.  They didn’t offer it then.  I devoted my studies to being an architect, while dealing blackjack in Lake Tahoe during the summer breaks.  After graduation, I decided to get serious and focus on my strengths.  I took a job as a National Field Consultant for my national fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t “career” serious, but I did learn the finer points of wearing a suit and paying my own bills.  Following my Dad’s death two years later, I realized just how precious life is and got a real job as a box salesman.   My Dad called it “corrugated packaging” and he devoted his life to it.  My brother still sells it to this day and is quite happy.  Figuring I was destined for something more, I decided to head back to school, so I attended UCLA by day and worked at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) by night loading aircraft.   Soon the reality of my situation set in.  There was no way I could support myself, my graduate studies and live in Westwood on such meager wages.  So the big question: Move to cheaper digs and and/or drive an economy car? Or find another job and put school on hold?  Let’s just say, have you ever driven a brand new candy apple-red IROC Camaro?!

I recall the smell of jet fuel (rotten eggs) on my person, the day I spotted the article in the LA Times announcing the grand opening of JW Marriott in Century City, California.  For some reason I remember thinking then “sales”, but also realizing I knew absolutely nothing about the hotel business.  I applied the very next day, but as it turned out, the only positions left just days before opening were in valet parking.  I later became the supervisor for the department, only to transfer months later into banquets, whereby I met a woman (co-worker) who is now my wife of 20 years.  The roots of my hotel career are wide spread and have yielded much growth, from my experiences in Human Resources as a recruiter and payroll administrator, to my days as a front desk agent and front office supervisor.  All of which lead to Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort in Colorado Springs, CO and what is now my livelihood and passion, hospitality sales.  I guess the days spent purposely cutting through the sales office on my way up to the front desk, in hopes the Director of Sales would give me a shot paid off.   That brings us right back to where we started.

I realize now more than ever, after more than 22 years in hospitality industry, 18 years of that in hospitality sales, that every experience, challenge and job I’ve encountered along the way brought me to this point.  Without them, I would not be the successful hospitality sales person I am today.   Most importantly, I’ve learned that the reason I ended up in hospitality sales is because it is what I was destined to do.  I’ve realized for the first time really, that I am doing what comes naturally. How cool is that!?

Part two of this series, Customers See the Benefits, coming soon!

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