KOKOMO, Ind. —What do you do if you’re a hotel manager, and you have more guests than rooms available?
What happens if the shower in room 208 breaks and floods the room below it?
How do you handle the regular client who only wants brown blankets in his room?
Students in Indiana University Kokomo’s hospitality and tourism management program learned the answers to these dilemmas — and many more — with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Courtyard by Marriott in Kokomo.
“It gave all of us an inside perspective, because you’re learning first-hand what they do every day,” said sophomore Josh Main, who is interested in hotel management. “If you listen and pay attention, and if you do something like this as a career, you will know the ins and outs before you get there.”
Students learned inside details from Marla Miller, director of sales; Bambi Roe, general manager; David Luellen, head of maintenance, Lisa King, front desk; and Candace Dripps, head of housekeeping.
Miller started with the lobby, and then took students behind the front desk. They saw office space for managers, and then stepped into the laundry room, where industrial-sized washers and dryers tumbled sheets and bedding, permeated by a faint smell of detergent.
Next, they visited two rooms — one with a king-sized bed and pullout sofa, the other with two double beds — to talk about what goes into keeping each room in tip-top shape, to meet guest standards.
After touring the kitchen, students had a chance to ask questions about day-to-day operations, about handling noise complaints, what kind of clientele frequent the hotel, and what kind of inspection process is in place.
Main, from Peru, was especially interested in details of President Barack Obama’s stay at the hotel in 2010. Security and press took up the first and third floors, with the chief executive commandeering the second floor for himself.
Sophomore Antoyne Jackson wanted to know more about what daily life is like for people working in a hotel. He learned that if you are the maintenance director, you are on call 24/7 to do things like fix the shower when it breaks. If you are in charge of housekeeping and you know a return customer wants only brown blankets, then brown blankets are placed on the bed. And if the hotel is overbooked, accommodations are made for guests at a nearby hotel.
He also learned that customer service is the most important aspect of success.
“When you’re on the floor, you can’t have a bad day,” the Chicago resident said. “You have to have excitement in your voice, and show people a good time in your establishment, so they will want to return.”
Alyssa Newsome, a freshman from Fresno, California, was impressed that so many of the hotel’s managers took time to speak with them.
“They were very positive, and you can tell they love what they do,” she said. “Most of them have worked in the hotel industry for a while, so they could give us more information on different aspects of the business.”
Mark Meng, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, said the tour gives students a chance to see what they’ve learned in class in action.
“This allows them to integrate the theories we have discussed into a live business situation,” he said. “I hope it helps our students better understand the hotel industry, in particular, regarding career development, which is one of the ultimate goals of our program.”
The tour is part of IU Kokomo’s KEY program— the Kokomo Experience and You. It provides students chances to connect with people and participate in real-world experiences.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.