Hotel Moment podcast episode #47 graphic with Karen Stephens.
Hotel Moment podcast episode #47 graphic with Karen Stephens.
The Hotel Moment podcast — episode 47

Starting a career in hospitality

This week on the Hotel Moment podcast, Karen Stephens, Revinate’s CRO, re-visits a question she asks every guest that comes on the show: “How did you get your start in hospitality? And what was your first day like on the job?” You’ll hear responses from past guests that show the possibilities within the hospitality industry and why early experiences help shape careers.

Tune in for a reflection on the value of humble beginnings in hospitality.

Red, yellow, and blue lines to indicate soundwaves.
Headshot of Karen Stephens

Meet your host

As Chief Marketing Officer at Revinate, Karen Stephens is focused on driving long-term growth by building Revinate’s brand equity, product marketing, and customer acquisition strategies. Her deep connections with hospitality industry leaders play a key role in crafting strategic partnerships. Karen is also the host of The Hotel Moment Podcast, where she interviews top players in the hospitality industry. Karen has been with Revinate for over 11 years, leading Revinate’s global GTM teams. Her most recent transition was from Chief Revenue Officer, where she led the team in their highest booking quarter to date in Q4 2023. Karen has more than 25 years of expertise in global hospitality technology and online distribution — including managing global accounts in travel and hospitality organizations such as Travelocity and

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Karen Stephens: So what I’d like to know is what was your very first job in the travel industry? And do you remember your first day? What was that like?

Noreen Henry: Oh, wow. Um, yes. So my first job was with Saber. So I worked, um, in product on the travel agency side. So, building products for travel agents. And I was actually working on a product that was about bringing video and images at, tells you how old I am, to travel agent desktop. I thought the opportunity to work in travel was like, I never dreamed that I could do that. And I was just pinching myself that it was the opportunity to work in the travel industry.

Karen Stephens: Wow. That is so cool. Imagine that video content being important. Amazing. Yeah.

Karen Stephens: When did you start working in the hospitality industry? And do you remember your first day on the job?

Peter Ricci: I was 14. I was a dishwasher at a restaurant and I don’t remember my first day, but I vividly remember my manager, Lucy. She made a very good presence on me as a person, and I can still see her face vividly.

Karen Stephens: Oh, great.

Peter Ricci: Yeah, and I can remember the dishwashing machine. That’s what I remember.

Karen Stephens: Fantastic.

Karen Stephens: When did you start working in the industry? And do you remember your first day on the job?

Fabricio Titiro: Absolutely. I definitely remember my, my first day on that, on that job. I joined the industry, the hospitality, I, I consider myself a person that falls within the umbrella of tourism. And I think hospitality is within that umbrella. Same as transportation. And actually, I began my career in hospitality with, uh, I was very young, 18 years old. And I started working as a professional bartender.

Karen Stephens: Ooo cool.

I actually, uh, spent like seven, eight years, doing that role. Among other roles in parallel.

And, and I definitely remember my, my first days. It was an amazing job. Probably, I still think it was probably the most exciting and, the job role that, that I most enjoyed.

So definitely I remember that one. I also remember my first day in hospitality tech that happened many years after.

Karen Stephens: So when did you first start working in the industry? And do you remember your first day on the job?

Johnathan Capps: I remember my first month, a little bit of, you know, funny trial by fire in the sense that, I was 14 or 15 in high school, first job, in a hotel. And actually funny enough, a hotel that was opening. So it wasn’t an opening yet. I grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you know, big tourism destination. And, uh, knew that this hotel needed someone.

I was gonna do breakfast. I was gonna work by the pool. I was gonna do some multiple things, but when I, you know, started, they were like, “oh, we haven’t opened yet, so you’re gonna be just helping the opening team.” So we’re talking about, you know, 14, 15 stories. I didn’t realize, like, you know, you couldn’t use the elevator when we were working.

What I remember is like, best workout, best shape of my life. I was, you know, up and down stairwells all day, putting soaps in rooms, putting towels, delivering sheets, carrying mattresses. So, you know, at that age I love the, uh, manual labor. I love the exercise, so it was good. And then, you know, you talk about a hotel going into opening, which a lot of people are familiar with it. Everything you did in those first weeks and months of, of, you know, I was there at 4:30, you know, figuring out breakfast and, then jumping on the desk and then, you know, when a guest needed something that we just weren’t used to having, it was all those things in my first job, in my first hotel experience.

So I recall that a lot, cuz now in a corporate position, I try to put myself in those shoes. COVID was a good example of that. Man, even a hotel opening in normal times was like, so mind-blowing to me at a young age that, you know, knowing what our, our teams go through now, t was super formative for my early years in, in this industry.

Karen Stephens: Qhen did you start working in the industry and do you remember your first day on the job?

Paul Hitselberger: I do. I started in the industry in 1982 at Resorts International in Atlantic City. I was taking time off after college. Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and I had cooked at the Jersey Shore in the summer, and I started at Resorts International as a line cook.

Karen Stephens: Oh wow, that’s fantastic. At the Jersey Shore in the summertime.

Paul Hitselberger: Yes ma’am. I’ve worked there from probably ‘78 until, after school until ‘82.

Karen Stephens: Alright.

Paul Hitselberger: City was up and coming back then, so it was a great time to get in.

Karen Stephens: When did you start work in the industry and do you remember your first day on the job?

Rob Mangiarelli: I do. So it was, it was interesting. So, immediately after college, I was an economics major at Stanford and I wanted to be a math teacher or a lawyer. And when I graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I went back home, Colorado Springs, and I was looking to keep myself busy at night.

So I got a job working night audit at a Holiday Inn. And, the first day, I was tired because I’d never worked overnight before. So it was just a long night. And that started my, long history of, coffee drinking. was working the night audit the Holiday Inn

Karen Stephens: When did you start first working in hospitality and do you remember your first day on the.

Matthijs Welle: Absolutely. I was 16, and I started working in a restaurant. I’ve always known I was gonna be a hotelier from the age of 4. And like, at the moment, I was legally allowed to work. Went to this forest restaurant where I lived, and I asked for a job, and they gave me a job. And I remember when the first guest walked in that morning, and then somebody gave me like a notepad and said, “can you take the order?”

And I remember the panic that I felt like, “well, what do I say to these people? Like, what’s the experience I need to have for these people?” And they’re like, “you literally just go to the table and you just wait for them to start speaking.” And that’s literally what happened.

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