Salt Lake hospitality provides meaningful career paths
With nearly 1,000 hospitality career openings in Utah, the Covid pandemic has left drastic and long-lasting impacts on the hospitality industry. Now that the economy in Utah has long been “reopened,” we are experiencing a resurgence in consumer spending on food and beverage services, experiences, and travel, in many instances back to pre-pandemic levels. Yet, Salt Lake’s full recovery is hindered by a workforce shortage in the hospitality industry.
Industry leaders are working diligently to spread the word that a career in hospitality is a rewarding one, allowing for endless career track options, travel discounts and perks, job mobility around the world, and flexible schedules. Job seekers may not realize that they can get a start with no experience needed, giving them endless opportunities to build new skills while providing them with a valuable purpose.
The travel and tourism economy is a vital economic engine for the state, representing the 8th largest industry and providing $1,238 in tax relief for each Salt Lake County household annually. Utah’s visitor economy generates $10.1 billion annually, and Salt Lake County’s visitor economy represents 46 percent of the state’s total.
Many who started their careers in the hospitality industry never imagined that their front-line “job” would become more than a paycheck. With a good attitude and a willingness to learn, anyone can develop skills in the hospitality industry that are transferable and key for success in any industry.
Working in the hospitality industry provides employees with flexibility and unlimited opportunities for career mobility. Dave Fields started working at Snowbird in 2000 as the Assistant Director of Public Relations. Throughout his career at Snowbird, Fields has held positions in public relations, marketing, and operations before being promoted to President and General Manager in 2018.
“For someone who grew up skiing in Little Cottonwood Canyon to have an opportunity to become the General Manager of Snowbird is the honor of a lifetime,” said Fields. “Working in the ski industry has provided me with opportunities to work with amazing people in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”
Snowsports jobs provide employees with seasonal flexibility and opportunities for career mobility. It provides individuals with options to travel worldwide if they crave year-round snow. It also offers cross-cultural experiences since the snow industry relies on international workers from Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, and South America.
Travis Lindquist, the general manager at the TownePlace Suites in Salt Lake City Downtown, began his career in the hotel industry at a 66-room property in 2008. Over ten years, Lindquist worked hard to come up the ranks, advancing his career, to become the General Manager at his current property.
“I find working in the hospitality career to be personally rewarding,” said Lindquist. “I love to share my love of hospitality and Salt Lake City with my guests and associates. Some of the best people work in this amazing industry. Our community of hospitality professionals support and mentor career growth for so many.”
Career paths in hospitality are not always linear. In Zions Bank’s “Speaking on Business,” Lavanya Mahate, Owner of Saffron Valley Indian Restaurants, spoke with Chris Redgrave, Visit Salt Lake Board Member. Before starting Saffron Valley in 2011, Mahate started working as an intern with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce before taking on various positions and ending up as the Director of the Women’s Business Center.
After launching her own line of spice blends at the Downtown Farmers Market, she took the leap of faith and opened Saffron Valley in 2011. It has now grown to five locations in Salt Lake. “My business stems from my passion for serving people through food,” said Mahate. “Growing up in India, my best memories involve food and being in the kitchen learning to make sweets and spice blends. I have very fond memories around food and my family and how we show love for people is through food.” She continues to mentor and build the hospitality community, receiving awards for her efforts.
In direct response to requests from the hospitality industry and recognizing that a trained workforce is key to a healthy visitor economy, Visit Salt Lake launched a Salt Lake Career Connection online job portal to connect hospitality employers with potential new employees.
Salt Lake Career Connection is an information-gathering tool intended to provide ongoing educational opportunities and provide guidance on career opportunities in the hospitality space. Designed to educate a new generation of career seekers that a career in hospitality can be a gateway to the world, the portal is a one-stop-shop for career opportunities in Utah’s resilient travel and tourism sector.
It is an exciting time for the industry as it rethinks and reimagines itself with flexible options for staffing, operations, salaries, and delivery of services. “The hospitality industry provides people with incredible career path opportunities and amazing perks,” commented Nichole Farley, director of community and economic opportunity, for Visit Salt Lake. “A career in hospitality can be a springboard for so many things – a platform to meet people, a way to travel, a path to a rewarding and successful career, and we’re here to help people meet their potential.”
The hospitality community in Utah works together to rebuild their significant contribution to Utah’s vibrant economy. By providing meaningful career paths, connection between employers and prospective employees is strengthened and the industry is poised for a strong comeback.