Q: My dream career - not job, but career - is to go into the hotel business and eventually own and operate my own hotel. For now, I'm willing to learn from the ground up, so I'm going for a position as a front-desk clerk. What do you think? - Kim
A: Kate: You'd probably learn more about the hotel business by working in the back office than at the front desk. That's where you'd learn how they market the hotel, where they buy supplies, the software they use and the hundreds of other details that go into making a hotel function.
I'd suggest you go contact owners or managers and tell them your dream, and that you'd be willing to do any type of work they need to have done to learn the business.
Dale: As for eventually owning a hotel, there's a marvelous book that will help you create practical dreams: "The Rebel Rules" by Chip Conley. The author was just 26 when a record promoter opined that rock 'n' roll bands and other performers needed hotels that welcomed them.
From that conversation arose Conley's first venture, a San Francisco motel called The Phoenix. He had a small budget, a lousy location and a questionable facility; but he had a dream and a niche.
I'd like to include a passage of his book because it's an important service lesson for any would-be entrepreneur, in any field:
"When the then-unheralded Sinead O'Connor stayed (at The Phoenix), she was losing her voice. We knew right then it was essential to have an ear, nose and throat doctor on call for our performer-guests. The dancers who stayed with us appreciated our massage staff. Band members watched our 'band-on-the-road' video collection of the world's greatest music-oriented feature films. And, everyone's bus drivers appreciated our free, roomy parking lot.
The complete package, including many other unique services such as free passes to underground clubs and a staff-written guide to their favorite hot spots, wasn't suited to your average traveler, but it fit the needs of this market to a tee."
Kate: There's a lesson for all of us there: Keep finding new ways to be useful. Do that, Kim, and your work, and then your business, always will be in demand.