COLLEGE STATION, TX—The new Doug Pitcock ‘49 Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center is offering a dose of Southern comfort to travelers through a student and alumni hospitality training program.
There’s a unique brand of hospitality that is warm and welcoming but goes much further. “It’s howdy hospitality,” said Jonathan Chaplow, director of human resources, Doug Pitcock ’49 Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. “We like to think of ourselves as the guest house of Aggieland, and every team member is hired with an understanding that his or her job is not to be a front desk agent, housekeeper, dishwasher, barista or a server, but rather an ambassador of Texas A&M University where our jobs are to ‘Walk the Aggie Path of Pride’ every day.”
According to Chaplow, the main goals of the hospitality training program are to “build a lattice development program” in partnership with the university and local community. In nearly all divisions of the hotel, there are entry-level positions to enable future hoteliers to build the essential skills and knowledge to develop into leaders within that function.
Chaplow knows this from firsthand experience. After graduating from college, he cleaned guestrooms, stripped wax and buffed floors before being promoted to his first leadership role within the rooms division. “Five years later, I found my interest was even more in the direction of our internal guests and I moved to human resources and have been in this position for the past 23 years,” he said. “Across all functions, a common thread weaves us all together, creating memorable experiences in the lives of all we serve. With a community of such diversity and a broad range of talents, our hotel will provide those with a servant’s heart the ability to their strengths (studies) and apply it to their love of caring and serving others.”
Working with the university, the hotel team will provide the resources to accommodate the internship criteria required for all students to graduate and offer space for the university’s large-scale job fair events and other partnership opportunities as they come. In addition, the hotel will assist with access to resources for job readiness preparation. “We’ve committed to a two-hour session for the Texas A&M Resume Day event to provide direction, feedback and professional development on effective resume writing,” he said.
According to Chaplow, out-of-towners staying at the hotel can anticipate a sense of tradition. “Guests will taste and truly experience Southern hospitality where every team member is charged not with making a differencing but rather ‘being the difference,’” he said. “They will find a passionate team of many individuals devoted to creating uniquely hospitable experiences, earning the trust, respect and fierce loyalty of our total community.”
Whether it’s the training of future hoteliers or the day-to-day operation of a hotel, the focus is always on the people.
“We start with a people-before-policy perspective,” he said. “Our environment is one that starts with a simple understanding that we do everything to express care and genuine interest in the well-being of each other. Yes, it takes an inordinate amount of time to listen and hear what your fellow team member has to say, but when we do we develop trust, we develop loyalty and—most importantly—we develop vulnerability that prevent silos from popping up. It leads to an environment that fosters true synergy.”