California Lutheran University rounded out its annual Corporate Leadership Breakfast series in Thousand Oaks on May 2 by examining the inner workings of the hospitality industry ahead of preparations to add a new hospitality major.
The timeline for rolling out the newest degree offering is yet to be announced, said Lynda Fulford, associate vice president of university relations at Cal Lutheran.
An additional resource in the county would be welcome news, said panelist Shannon Hillygus, general manager of the Ventura Beach Marriott hotel, since employee recruitment and retention have been high on the company’s list of priorities.
“After the last several years of growth in our industry in this market, supply is going to become a big challenge for us,” Hillygus said, estimating that around 1,000 rooms will come online in the West County area in the next few years. “We obviously will have to compete with them for occupancy and room nights, but also the same workforce, and that has become a very slim area for us.”
Jane Lee Winter, president of Town & Country Travel, advised new entrants into the industry to identify a market and develop a niche rather than a broader approach.
“If you try to be all things to all people, you’re going to fail,” she said. “Over the years, we just keep identifying who it is that we serve. The better and sharper your razor, the more successful you’ll be in the hospitality industry, because then you can serve them very well because you know them well and you can nurture them.”
As long as you stay ahead of trends, technology can benefit the industry, Winter said. But it can also limit the ways a company can interact with its customers, Hillygus said.
“Technology seems to be robbing those interactions from our industry,” moving from a valet, doorman and front desk toward kiosks, mobile apps and keyless entry, he said. “It’s getting tougher to make the connection with the customer and so every interaction is extremely important.”
Staff interactions are regularly cited as the biggest draw for the Continuing Life retirement community, said managing partner Warren Spieker.
Incorporating new technologies like electronic medical records can reduce back office functions, while a social media presence can help the company communicate with its employees, attracting more young workers without eliminating customer-facing roles, Spieker said.
• Contact Marissa Nall at [email protected]