Students gathered in the International Lounge of the J.C. Williams Center on Wednesday, Nov. 7, to discover the secrets behind hospitality management from a hospitality COO.
The talk was led by Bob Andrews, COO of Prospera Hospitality Services. Andrews shared the story of his career path and how he got into hospitality, and he enumerated potential threats that can occur in the business.
Andrews originally majored in public management, but he did not like the atmosphere and politics of the job he was working and realized it was not for him. He switched to hospitality, and since then, Andrews has established 18 different properties across the country along with a few restaurants, including Bennigan’s down in Franciscan Square. Aside from hotels, Andrews was also in charge of converting a Best Western into what is now St. Junipero Serra Hall on lower campus.
Andrews said that he learned valuable skills from his work in hospitality, such as managing properties to make sure everything is running smoothly and the importance of guest services. “I was always very hands-in trying to tell everybody what to do,” said Andrews. “That’s a skill that came in very valuable later on in my career.”
Andrews then described three main threats to the hospitality industry. The first was the tremendous proliferation of hotels which can spread the number of people thin that come to stay at a hotel since there are many from which to choose. “Usually we rely on the banks in the past to put the brakes on when they see that the returns aren’t there. For some reason, it hasn’t happened so far,” said Andrews.
The second threat was the lack of people working in the industry helping with management or other aspects of the industry. The third threat derived from the use of technology. While Andrews said that technology was good for communication, third party reservations, or websites through which a person can book a hotel room and plan a trip, it requires hotels to give those websites a discount to give them a cut of the money. This ends up hindering hotel business instead of helping it.
Freshmen Zoey Stapleton appreciated the talk and the information Andrews provided. “I could always see myself as a business owner,” said Stapleton. “He brought up general ideas of how you can work from the bottom up. You can apply that to any job in life.”
The talk was organized by first year graduate student, Patrick Canavan, from the Hospitality Internship Program on campus.