Monday, February 11, 2008

Hospitality and Tourism: Orlando’s Economy (Re: Jobs) Lifeline

Tourism in OrlandoFor outsiders to Orlando, Florida, we are a place families dream about visiting. They save up for years to take a magical vacation to “Walt’s Kingdom” or to “Ride the Movies.” They come for the weather, or to get away from weather. They come for the 5 t-shirts for $10 that populate International Drive. Or maybe they come to bring some extra traffic to I-4 on a Friday afternoon.

All jokes aside, this tourism industry that continues to invade the Central Florida area has kept our economy going, even in the current hard times and real estate bust. A hurricane free 2007 Orlando and the rest of Florida kept the visitors coming, especially those from overseas. Orlando area resorts, attractions and theme parks across the state reported increases in sales, occupancy and overall attendance as the year came to a close.

What this means for us in job hunting land is an increased need for quality employees to entertain the tourists. By entertain, I mean working in the hotels, resorts, restaurants, car rental shops, airports, parks, shows and so much more. And with unemployment in Central Florida hovering around 4%, the chase for quality applicants becomes even more important for employers.

How to work this in your advantage when looking for a job in the hospitality market:
1. Put customers first. If you can’t keep the guests happy, you won’t keep your boss happy.
2. Keep your resume relevant. This may mean moving towards a functional resume instead of a chronological one, where you list the most relevant jobs first.
3. Diversify yourself. If you are working as a truck dispatcher, you might be a great fit for a vacation sales position at a timeshare. It could be just the change of pace that you are looking for.
4. If you are looking to make higher wages, consider a position that works off commission or tips. Thus the harder you work, the larger your paycheck will be.
5. Look for positions in tourist heavy areas. This might mean taking a longer commute to Kissimmee or International Drive. Think economical vehicle and investing in an E-Pass.
6. Look to become mildly fluent in a second or even third language. With more travel from overseas guests, being able to communicate accordingly with them will be a great asset on your side in complying with tip number 1.
7. Entry level isn’t a lifelong position. Taking a position as a bellhop or ride attendant isn’t your dream, but it is your foot in the door. Many resorts and hospitality establishments love to promote from within their own company. Think about the McDonald’s commercials where the register worker becomes a Regional Manager.
8. Start branding yourself online. Use social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and HealthCareerWeb to start building your network and show off your writing, accomplishments and thoughts on industry related topics.

By using some of the info in this article, your own expertise in your field and the growth of the hospitality and tourism market in Orlando, FL, you should have all the tools necessary to start, change or transition to when the time comes. There is no better day than today to make that change in your life that can affect not only your paycheck but your stress levels and improve life at home.

Happy hunting Orlando!

Greg Rollett

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