Property Management: The Best-Kept Hospitality Career Secret
If you’re a recent (or about-to-be) college grads or someone who’s ready to shift gears in their professional lives, here’s a helpful checklist to help you narrow down your choices:
· Are you the consummate host?
· Do you enjoy welcoming people into your home?
· Are you looking for a position in which no two days are ever the same?
· Does the idea of a 9-to-5 office job turn your knees to jelly?
If you answered yes to these questions, the Hospitality Industry may just be your yellow brick road!
When many people think of a hospitality career, they generally think in terms of hotel management – in fact, at many colleges, one of the hospitality major selections is called “Hotel Management.” That’s the case at Cornell University, where the prestigious hospitality school, considered one of the best in the world, is actually called the School of Hotel Administration.
But if you think you might enjoy a hotel management career, you might want to first consider the words of Christopher Christie, who has a Master’s degree from Cornell’s challenging Hotel Management program: “Property management, or as we like to call it, ‘residential hospitality,’ is the best-kept secret in the hospitality industry,” he says.
Why? For starters, unlike hotel managers, property managers have the opportunity to connect and build relationships with those they serve. “By their very nature, hotels are transient and guests stay for a relatively short time, so it’s difficult for staff to form deep bonds or connections with them in that limited timeframe,” he explains. “On the other hand, property or community association managers work right where their residents live, so they have the opportunity to see and interact with them frequently and build deep, long-lasting relationships over time.
Then there is that great factor; quality of life. Peak time periods, like holidays and weekends, are some of the busiest periods for hotels. That means all staff must be at work and are not able to take time off to be at home with their families. But according to Christie, the opposite is usually true for property management staff. “Condos typically get quieter and less busy during holidays and weekends because residents aren’t at home – and sometimes they’ve even gone to hotels,” he says.
And according to Christie, the time it takes to achieve the top management position is another area where property management beats hotel management – by about a decade. “A typical hotel management career path takes about 15 years of progressive hotel positions and experience to become a hotel manager,” he explains. He adds that because of the relative scarcity of hotels, especially in the luxury market, and the fact that these positions are very competitive, associates may not easily find an open spot when they’re ready to make a move.
“By comparison, it can take as little as five years for property management or community management associates to receive the hands-on training and experience they need to manage their own luxury building or property,” he says.
For example, in a typical career progression at FirstService Residential, where Christie is Senior Director of Residential Hospitality for the High-Rise Division in South Florida, new associates start at the front desk, progress to Front Desk Team Leader and then spends time in a hands-on administrative role, shadowing property managers and receiving training, mentoring and support. Once they’ve mastered these skills and knowledge, they’re ready to become on-site property managers.
As an added advantage, the ever-increasing number of luxury high-rise buildings – including nearly 200 high-rise properties managed by his company in South Florida alone – increases the odds that a qualified associate can obtain an on-site property management position at the right time.
And the opportunity continues to grow. According to recently published industry statistics, South Florida is currently home to more than 340 high-rise buildings, with an additional 500 in the construction, pre-sale, planning and proposal stages. It’s a similar story is most major markets along the east and west coasts.
And if you head north to Canada, the numbers are just as compelling. Toronto has over 3,200 existing high-rises, with approximately 800 additional buildings being constructed, planned or proposed. Over in British Columbia, Vancouver numbers over 1,300 high-rises, with nearly 200 more under construction or planned. And no matter where they’re located, every one of them needs a property manager, along with approximately two dozen staff members to oversee the day-to-day operations. Serving the needs of its residents is the main priority. Ambitious hospitality minded individuals thrive in this industry and it just may be the path for you.
Want to learn more? For information about property management and details on how to begin or advance a rewarding career in the growing field of residential hospitality, contact FirstService Residential today.