The Key to Success: Everyday Connections

By Shruti Buckley Vice President & Global Brand Manager, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Marriott International, Inc. | July 06, 2014

Every day is an opportunity to connect, to be inspired by others and to use the power of professional networks to realize a dream. Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is helping future business travelers with the launch of "Everyday Connect," a multimedia resource offering college graduates career insights from young entrepreneurs who were featured on this year's Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

The campaign, housed on Tumblr at http://everyday-connect.com, starts a conversation with young professionals and reinforces the idea that the next generation of business leaders needs to invest in real, meaningful relationships to help propel their careers. It reminds college graduates, entering a challenging job market, to take the time now at the start of their professional journey to build long-lasting relationships that will inspire them to succeed in whatever they choose to do.

Basking in the afterglow of graduation season, this next generation is about to realize that the hard work is not behind them, but actually just about to begin. For many in this millennial group of enthusiastic graduates, they are about to embark on their first interview. Employers are not going to be impressed by the number of their Facebook friends, but instead by what they offer that is unique from the other candidates. The traditional career path to "success" is a bit more complex today. Hard work and strong professional ethics are alive and well, but this new workforce will have to navigate a challenging job market. Now, more than ever, it will be critical for the next generation of professionals to master the art of making connections.

Success can mean different things to all of us, but for those who think they have achieved it, one element remains a constant – meaningful relationships and mentorship are invaluable to maintaining momentum throughout one's career. I'd like to offer one simple piece of advice to those starting out: stay connected. Building a rewarding career takes know-how, but it also requires the support of people who are willing to teach, support and encourage you to succeed. It's like the old saying goes: It's not what you know, it's who you know, that can make a world of difference in your professional life.

Here's some good news: a recent survey found that among 1,000 employed adults over the age of 21, 77% were willing to help a college graduate find a job. Further, 66% said that personal connections have helped them kick start and motivate them in their careers. That means that people not only recognize the power of personal relationships, they're actually willing to pay it forward by helping others. And today's workforce is especially altruistic: only 51% of people said that it was important for them to be recognized for their efforts on someone's behalf. While those statistics are encouraging, make no mistake: networking, and enlisting the support of mentors and advocates, takes effort. Asking for a job lead is not networking. Taking the time to get to know people, offering your talent to help others – that's what builds your reputation and makes people want to help you.

I recently met with four young entrepreneurs and their mentors to discuss the value that mentorship brings to both sides. What struck me the most about our conversation was how willing these smart, ambitious young people were to learn from others. There are many misconceptions about millennials, and the "e" word (entitlement) is often, and unfairly, ascribed to this group. However, it is worth remembering that it is this tech-savvy, hyper-connected and engaged group that is poised to be our next generation of leaders. They have the ideas and the know-how to effect change quickly. And, in their pursuit of all things epic, they are striving for balance and meaningful careers. Relationships matter just as much as "success" to this group.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.