Traveling and experiencing new places can be one of the most exciting parts of life, but have you ever thought about the people behind the scenes at your favorite resort or vacation destination?
The travel and tourism industry is full of hard-working professionals dedicated to making your vacation the best it can be. College Lifestyles™ recently had the chance to interview a sophisticated professional in the travel and tourism industry: the Fairfield Inn and Suites of North Charleston’s Assistant General Manager, Savannah Mathes.
College Lifestyles™: If you attended college, what courses did you take that pertain to this career path (and what school did you attend)?
Savannah Mathes: I attended Davis & Elkins College in my hometown of Elkins, WV, where I received a bachelor’s degree in marketing. While the courses I took did not directly correlate with a career in hospitality, the business and marketing courses were a great starting point for being able to market a hotel, ultimately setting it apart from the competition and increasing sales.
CL: What does a typical day look like for you as assistant general manager?
SM: While no day for me is “typical,” I do have a daily agenda of responsibilities that includes: mentoring and coaching associates, review[ing] property financials and completion of accounting tasks, responding to guest feedback via social media or Marriott’s survey platform and guest interaction. One of the great things about a career in this industry is that no two days are ever the same … you never know what to expect, so your work never becomes mundane.
CL: What is your favorite part about working in the travel and tourism industry?
SM: My favorite aspect of working in the travel and tourism industry would be getting to meet so many new people from all over the world. Being able to interact with others on a daily basis and creating new relationships is fantastic. I love the ability of being able to create a sense of “home away from home” for all of my guests and giving them an exceptional, memorable experience. Not only does that provide a personal achievement, it also builds loyalty to the hotel and the brand.
CL: How do you feel about working specifically in the unique Charleston, South Carolina tourism industry?
SM: I absolutely love working in the Charleston tourism industry. I take great pride in being able to provide guests with an exceptional experience not only at our hotel, but also throughout Charleston. Being able to exemplify true “Southern hospitality” by providing attraction and dining recommendations for guests to enhance their experience is a passion for me. Charleston has been voted as the #1 city in the US and Canada for two consecutive years by Travel + Leisure, as well as the #1 city in the US for four years by readers of Conde Nast. What better way to promote our hotel and the beautiful Holy City than by telling our guests about the delicious cuisine and rich culture?
CL: What advice do you have for students pursuing a career in the travel and tourism industry?
SM: The biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone looking to pursue a career in the travel and tourism industry is to determine which aspect they would best fit. From a hotel operations perspective, I would suggest doing an internship to get hands-on experience of the field. Likewise, if hotel operations are the ultimate goal, I would suggest taking classes that pertain to that particular career path.
CL: Where did you get your inspiration for this career path?
SM: My inspiration came from a great mentor I had at the first hotel I worked at here in Charleston. He was very knowledgeable about the industry and was very passionate about coaching others to grow in the industry just as he had. He mentored me throughout my transition into hotel management and consistently pushed me to pursue more knowledge of hotel operations.
CL: What are your future goals?
SM: Within the next year, my goal is to become a general manager. On an ongoing basis, I consistently set goals to further my knowledge and education of hotel operations and the tourism industry, whether it is by reading books, attending seminars, taking courses or simply going into the market to gain experiences. In the long-term, my ultimate goal is to become a regional director of operations for a hospitality company overseeing multiple hotels and providing direction and coaching for newly appointed general managers.
Mathes’ passion for the travel and tourism industry is exciting and promising! This distinctive industry is definitely one to take note of when deciding on a positive career path. For more information on careers to pursue, check out these articles:
Photo courtesy of Tracy Bennett.
Photos courtesy of Savannah Mathes.