How did you end up having a career in the hospitality industry?
I was studying a vocational program in restaurant management at Tower High School in Warren, Mich. My instructor, Dave McNamara, took a liking to me and steered me in the direction of getting a degree in hotel and restaurant management at Michigan State University, where he had attended school. So I did! I am a proud graduate of what is now called The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University and was recently honored as an Emerging Alumnus of the Year.
What do you like about it?
The variety, for sure. No two days are ever the same. Even though my current role as VP of operations has me traveling all the time, it’s the guest and staff interactions at the hotels that keep me grounded and energized.
What emerging trends in hospitality are you most excited about?
Social media and the transparency of rates and guest feedback is something that is here to stay. Hotels had better embrace it. Your competitors certainly are.
How closely to do you work with meeting and convention planners in the course of your job?
Really close — I married a longtime HelmsBriscoe associate, Patty Hunt Durso! In all reality, I don’t personally work closely with meeting and convention planners, but I work with and stress to our sales managers at our hotels to always respond promptly to leads, even if they are leads that you don’t think are a good fit. Know your meeting planners. Invite them to your hotel. They can be very strong advocates for your property if they know you and your property. Even if a meeting may be too large this time around, you just might be remembered as a good option when a smaller one comes around.
Has being named Chris Durso been beneficial to your career?
Hah! Yes. I was able to be interviewed for this blog and be read by thousands of people, wasn’t I?