“To succeed in the hospitality industry, you have to have an inner passion to serve people. You need to empathize; to make them feel at home,” observes Isenberg HTM senior Morgan Smith. “You can train employees in various procedures—like righting wrongs in performance through guest recovery—but hospitality is by and large instinctual.” That is one of many lessons learned by Smith at Isenberg, on the front lines at Hotel UMass, and in a summer internship and subsequent full-time employment with MGM Springfield’s Chandler’s Steakhouse.
“I was all set after graduation to join MGM’s yearlong management training program in Vegas, but that’s been on hold since the coronavirus hit,” Smith explains. “Since then, the entire hospitality industry has been reeling.” Until the crisis breaks, Smith’s management training will come from MGM Springfield’s food and beverage department. “I already have broad knowledge and experience in operations,” she says. “I’m looking forward to training in finance, marketing, and logistics.”
No problem there, she adds, because “I’m analytical, comfortable with numbers, and task oriented.” More challenging, she confesses, is learning to excel as a leader and teambuilder. “Fortunately, I gained skills, confidence, and inspiration in Professor Rod Warnick’s course in leadership. Rod and all the HTM faculty have been amazing mentors. They have always been quick to help; they really care about you.”
Smith’s first brush with hospitality management was as a student at Milford High School. “I took an innovative, two-year hospitality program and loved it. After graduating, I jumped at the opportunity to continue my hospitality studies at Isenberg. They’ve given me great preparation for the profession, including road bumps like the coronavirus crisis. As HTM student speaker, I have a key message to share with my classmates: You have the opportunity and skills to do big things. Don’t give up on your dreams and goals. Stay positive.”