Rebecca Blair Roth is a student in ICE’s Hospitality Management Program. Her class is learning about the business of the travel and tourism industry. The class is frequently visited by industry experts, helping guide students on the track to careers in the industry.

Step into the world of a Human Resources Director of one of New York’s leading luxury hotels. It may not be glitzy or glamorous behind the scenes, but being a Human Resource Director is like directing a movie. They help cast the perfect group of people to put on a daily show and they have to get along with one another and represent the product they stand for. This week the Hospitality Management Program had the pleasure of having Deborah Croce of the Chef’s Advisory Council as a guest speaker in class. Croce is currently the Human Resources Director of the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park and has been working for the hotel since 2001. With their motto stating, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” the Ritz Carlton has set the tone for how they would like their guests to be treated as well as their employees. This prestigious Five-Diamond, world-renowned luxury hotel has been at the forefront of the industry and has set standards for exceptional service.

During her hour with us, Croce highlighted pinpoints of what being an HR Director in a union property was like on a day-to-day basis. Currently, the Ritz has 400 employees and 280 of them are part of a union. With such a high majority of the staff being union, it is imperative to understand all the proper protocol. When hiring union staff, an employer takes on many more responsibilities than non-union — when creating sick logs or dealing with seniority, any little mistake could lead to larger issues. This can be quite costly and sometimes can lead to worker strikes, lawsuits, and even the dreaded giant blown-up rat! Complying with union delegates and meeting the demands of workers will lead to a happy work environment.

From housekeepers and bellmen to kitchen staff, this multi-cultural group receives great pensions, benefits, vacations, annual raise increases and a slew of other perks. So with that in mind, employee turnover is pretty rare and people will stay at their jobs for 30 to 40 years and many of the staff will want to continue to work until they physically can’t do their job anymore. (I am sure you are all now visualizing a senior bellman schlepping your heavy luggage and hoping they don’t have a heart attack).

After having recently completed the Human Resources segment of the Hospitality Management curriculum, we are realizing how vital it is to understand how working and hiring is crucial in this industry. Croce offered us great advice from her years of expertise and hopefully one day we can implement these when we are management.

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