Jane Pritzker and Alex Goldstein, a mother-son Hospitality & Tourism Management (HTM) power team recently came to speak in Professor Erin Tierney’s Hospitality class. Jane is a 1979 HTM grad and the Director of National Accounts at the Boston Convention Center, and Alex is a 2013 HTM grad and Group Sales Manager at the Boston Park Plaza hotel. Jane and Alex shed light on what it’s been like building careers in the same industry but in different eras. Alex, and all of us hearing their talk, have grown up in a digital era and it was incredibly interesting to hear their different perspectives on hospitality. They talked about their personal relationship and how it’s been strengthened through their mutual love for hospitality and how they are able to work together professionally and this has added a whole new dynamic to their relationship.
Jane has worked in the industry since her graduation in 1979 and shared her memories of working in the hospitality industry before so much of it was digitalized. She referred to their scheduling planner as “the bible.” You had to use a pencil to schedule anything for the meeting spaces so that if the reservation changed, you could take it off the schedule. Each person who scheduled meeting space put everything into this one book and that was how they kept track of everything. For those of us who grew up in a technical era, this is hard to imagine. I picture all the things that could go wrong with this system, but Jane said that sometimes it was actually simpler than having everything online.
Jane talked about how technology has changed the industry and how in many ways, it has made her job easier but sometimes it makes it more difficult. With technology, you are expected to be in constant contact with people and with that, people expect answers and results right away. Jane said “being connected all the time means you never get a break.” That kind of instant gratification puts a lot of pressure on you as a professional. Technology also eliminates a lot of personal interaction. Jane says that when she first entered the industry there was a lot more face to face business.
Alex spoke about his own experience graduating from the HTM program. He had to work his way up as well but he had a bit of a different experience from his mother. He started working at a front desk and had to pay his dues until he got a sales position. He joked about how he would see the sales team in the break room goofing off and playing with the office dog and that inspired him to work hard and get a position higher up.
Although Jane and Alex took different paths they are both working in jobs they love and have found where they’re comfortable. They each spoke about how to figure out where your place is. There are many differences between corporate businesses and independents. They each emphasized that everyone is different and that it is important to find your own preferences and make sure you’re being true to yourself. Jane and Alex both talked about the pro of brand loyalty in corporate businesses. When Jane worked for Hyatt, she knew that people were very loyal to that brand and that made for a steady stream of business. Alex told us that when you work at an independent hotel you have the chance to be more innovative and resourceful which is something he enjoys. He also enjoys the freedom he feels he is given to go above and beyond for a customer. Alex stressed how it is important to find a place that you’re happy.
Alex also talked about the importance of connecting with the people you work with. People in hospitality are “work hard, play hard” kind of people and that’s what makes working with them fun. He said when he was choosing jobs he always picked the one where he connected with his interviewer. Money will come and go, but working with people you get along with is invaluable. Although many people who go into hospitality are very outgoing, Alex also said that many people who work in back of house operations are not always extroverted. He encouraged people who are shy not to be discouraged and to continue to pursue their careers in hospitality.
Jane always knew that Alex would go into the hospitality industry. He grew up visiting her at work and she always felt he was a natural. She said she could tell he had the personality for it and knew he could succeed if he wanted to. When asked what her advice to Alex was when he entered the industry she said “have integrity, be humble, do well and do good.”