When I first started in the Hospitality Industry, I really had no idea what I was getting into and what is was all about. This was all back in the UK. I had started helping out at the local hotel, just to make a little extra money for the summer. First, I helped set rooms for meetings, laying dance floor and setting chairs, and then moved into the kitchen. I was fascinated by all of this; it seemed exciting and glamorous. Soon after, my Chef encouraged me to go to school, and “Voila”, I was hooked!

I went to further my learning in Germany, and as I look back, I remember being impressed with how seriously everyone took their jobs. They were proud of their honorable profession and revered for their skills. They were truly passionate about what they did. In many ways that passion is what inspired me to grow and continue in this career.

It was also around this time that I began to recognize that restaurant work was an honorable profession. The servers took their jobs seriously, and went to school for it. This was a career for them. The culinary team were also some of the best professionals that I have worked with. They lived, breathed, and dreamed about their jobs. Not many industries allow you to have so much fun, travel the world, grow organically from the bottom to the top, and build a career in which are fulfilled, never bored, and are very well rewarded for the privilege?

The more I inserted myself into this lifestyle of a career, the more I realized how the work I did fulfilled me in a way that I couldn’t see in the normal world. I loved the sense of a community, servicing others, and being passionate about the food, beverage, and service that we sold. I saw how coaching managers and training servers made a difference in guest’s lives and in ours.

It was also around this time that I began to see that restaurant work was an honorable profession. It was a job I was learning to enjoy from the inside out.

My questions is this: How do we get some of this passion back into our industry? How do we create that pride and culture of hospitality that is seems rare these days?

I would love to create some discussion and synergy around this question. Does it start at high school, college, or do we need to instill this at the hotel [and restaurant] level? How do we create better training programs? Do we need to offer better, and more, apprenticeship programs? We have a severe issue and it makes me wonder where our next generation of hospitality workers is going to come from?

Essentially, I think it starts with us. Starting conversations that inspire the youth of today. We need to work with our regional teams, owners, local schools, and business leaders to create dialog. Does it take hotels and restaurants getting together and creating a campaign to sell the dream, or paint the picture of what a fun career this can be? How can we eliminate dull and boring environments and get back some of that entrepreneurial spirit? Are we able to make hotels the place to be? Their restaurants the place in town to get the best food in town?

I would love to invite comments and feedback. We need to start now to build the future of proud hotels leaders. We need to build layers of the staff of tomorrow that will take this honorable profession seriously and help elevate it back to the type of job it once was-a job that people are proud to do and where everyone is excited and proud to get a job in the industry.

Russ Blakeborough is a 30-year hotel F&B leader, who now runs Focus F&B consulting.
www.focus-fb.com

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