Discover how a chance visit to Las Vegas led a young professional to double down on a career in hospitality and make her mark on the Las Vegas Strip.
How has your career in hospitality sales, marketing and revenue management opened your world?
I believe that hospitality has opened my world through emotional intelligence. Understanding
people is so powerful. You start seeing the growth of the emotional intelligence you get with your clients; the special things that you can do for them or make them look good by holding a successful meeting and making sure all those wow opportunities are made. And then you evolve into a leader of people. Your emotional, intelligence affects your teams, and how do you get the best out of your team, and how that correlates to you being able to reading people. So, it goes from your external clients to your internal clients. And both are just so important. I think the hospitality world really helped me, through my career, gain a stronger emotional intelligence.
How do you get from the beginning of your career in hospitality to where you are today?
I started out at MGM Grand as a front desk agent and room reservation agent. I was going to college here at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was a great part-time job to get my first taste in hospitality. I was also a hospitality major. After graduation, 9/11 hit and the opportunities were not as abundant. So, I took whatever job I could get because in my head as long as I worked hard, I thought, I can move up. I got a Receptionist job in the sales department at Treasure Island. And that’s where things really started to bud in my career. I moved on to be a Convention Services Manager. And then I actually was able to decide that that was the point in my career that I wanted to go into sales. And so I took a step back and actually came to Bellagio as a Sales Assistant in the convention department, which then led me to the Mirage Hotel, where I became a Sales Manager and then opened ARIA as a National Sales Manager. Ultimately, I became Executive Director and then was transitioned as Vice President of Sales for Monte Carlo Resort, where I worked with a transition team to make it into Park MGM. Most recently, I came over to Bellagio a little over a year ago as the Vice President of Sales. So, a long, storied career within MGM Resorts. I moved wherever the opportunity was.
What still gets you excited about your job today?
I am definitely a people person. I love my teams. I love working with new teams, tweaking it a little, and seeing them flourish. When I first started out in the hotel business, I have to be honest, it was a fluke. It was not on purpose. I actually came out with my family. We had an uncle who was a who was a big gambler. And of course, that whole experience, I thought, wow, if I could be this casino host and I just made sure everybody had a good time. That sounds like a great job, right? And I’ll never forget riding my first time in a limo from the hotel back to the airport. And we’re looking at the freeway. And my dad pointed out UNLV to me. And he said, Amanda, that’s one of the top ring hotel schools. You should go to college there. And that sparked my interest. There’re so many different jobs. You can go anywhere within a hotel. You can work one job for six months and in a year and say, hey, my interest is now this. Everybody has an important part in the hotel. I love all the opportunities under one roof.
What kind of industries translate well into a hospitality career?
We look for someone who has great customer service. And I always say, you might find your next support person scooping ice cream. You might find them in the retail industry. As long as they like people, then you can train them to be your support system. And you really hope that your support is someone that you would want to grow within the company into management and leadership. Anybody who is in a service industry could be someone who could translate. When it comes to revenue, you should definitely be a person who loves numbers.
What should a potential hospitality employee be looking for in a world class employer?
One of the big things that I believe in is succession planning. You definitely want to know what is the succession planning for a job and how can I grow. When you’re going for a job, you’re choosing to step into your future and it doesn’t just stop with the job that you’re applying for. Succession planning tells you they’re making a firm investment in their employees and they want their place to keep growing and growing and growing. You want to feel supported by succession planning so that you can make a long-term investment into that company. So that should be a key characteristic when you’re looking for an employer: succession planning. And then also tell me about your culture. Your culture will tell me a lot, as in do I align with your culture? Do I compliment your culture? That’s something I want to be a part of because you want to enjoy your job every day.
How important is it to have a robust network of quality contacts within the industry?
It is so important to have contacts, whether it’s in your city or out of your city, because you never, ever know when you’ll need them. I may have a piece of business that I can’t place here at my own property or sister property, and they might be able to consider another city. Or maybe I want to do something special for a client that is not staying at my property. Maybe I can create a wow moment. It just makes business easier, because you know who to call to make things happen. The other reason I think it’s important to have contacts is sometimes it’s great to just bounce ideas off of people who are maybe not even in your industry. Some of my great mentors aren’t even in the industry. And some of my great mentors have been in the industry. So, I think it’s very, very important to extend that and it can be intimidating when you’re first getting into the business. Platforms or associations like HSMAI help facilitate that for you and make it a lot easier being a member so that you can gain those contacts.