5 Reasons Former Hospitality Workers Make Great Marketing Agency Employees

By | July 16, 2015
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Matt CroninBelow is a guest post from Matt Cronin, founding partner at House of Kaizen. Matt is a digital performance marketing and brand management pioneer who’s developed digital strategies for the likes of Tiffany & Co. and JPMorgan Chase.

Successful marketing professionals come from all walks of life, and in many cases, the more varied the background, the more successful the marketer. After all, marketing is all about conveying messages that resonate with a wide array of audiences.

In my experience, there’s one particular background that meshes surprisingly well with the marketing world: those who have worked in the hospitality industry.

While studying marketing communications in college, I worked at a few restaurants that had demanding clienteles, and even more demanding chefs and proprietors. I didn’t realize it then, but those late nights and long hours prepared me for advertising and the task of starting my own agency. My business partner spent years in management with a global hotel organization before moving into marketing.

Next time you’re flipping through résumés, don’t ignore candidates who flip burgers and work front desks. Those folks just may be your best candidates. Here’s why:

1. They Seamlessly Shift Between Tasks

Anyone who’s worked at a restaurant or hotel knows that multitasking becomes a way of life. Servers typically deal with at least five tables at a time. And all are functioning on different timelines: One needs menus, one is waiting on entrees, one needs refills, and one needs the check. A concierge has to shift between ironing out tiny details and planning grand events. He must also know how to interact with and interpret the different needs of business travelers, honeymooners and vacationing families.

Similarly, each marketing campaign and initiative simultaneously operates on its own timeline, and client contacts have their own unique quirks. Some are informal and humorous—like a table of young people out on the town—while others require more of a serious, business-minded approach. Successful marketers need to be able to adapt to all of these personalities.

2. They Understand Flow

The pace of a restaurant ebbs and flows throughout the night. At high tide, workers need to possess an unflappable confidence and an ability to thrive under stress.

For marketers, when many demands come in during a short period of time, they must be able to prioritize while still delivering consistent quality. This is often exemplified by diplomatically aligning various stakeholders toward a collective goal, bringing the agency and client together in agreement on a singular item.

3. They’re Cool Under Pressure

The front desk at a hotel is often a hub of activity. It’s a guest’s first touchpoint when he arrives, which means whether the clerk is checking in hordes of people for a conference or dealing with a disgruntled guest, every interaction has to be warm and welcoming.

This trait is crucial for successful marketers. Our lives are full of difficult scenarios; sometimes, we just have to dust ourselves off and keep trucking. We live by this Samuel Beckett quote at my agency: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

4. They’re Proactively Graceful

Good restaurateurs understand and anticipate customers’ needs—like refilling water glasses before they’re empty and suggesting the perfect wine to pair with an entrée.

Marketers, similarly, are in a position where they need to please internal stakeholders, external clients and the general public. The ability to find and deliver winning resolutions with grace and ease is the sign of a great marketer.

5. They Understand ROI Delivery

In the restaurant world, ROI is achieved through the delivery of great meals in an enjoyable environment. For hotels, it’s a clean, well-prepped room at the right time. The two key factors of the equation are financial profit for the proprietors and an emotional delight for the customer that brings him back to the establishment.

Marketing ROI is calculated similarly. But instead of food or rooms, we’re preparing strategies and designs to create a profitable immediate transaction that lays the groundwork for future prospects and relationships.

Like marketing agencies, restaurants and hotels are only as good as the sum of their parts. Everyone in the establishment must be able to think on their feet, provide excellent client service and thrive under stress. Hospitality workers have experience doing it all. So next time you’re dining out or seeking a place to stay for the night, look around, and you might just find your next great marketer.


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