Today, we introduce you to Anthony Lai, Student Affairs Program Manager at TISOH – The International School of Hospitality. Anthony is also the Vice Chairperson for the Nevada Hotel & Lodging Association – Next Reigning Generation Committee. We asked him to tell us about his career path so far.
It all came together for me when I got to walk Hugh Jackman’s dog. It’s not much of a claim to fame, but it is mine.
As I was walking his yappy little dog, I got to thinking “How did I get here?”, “Is this what I went to hotel school for?”, “Is this my passion?” Well, it turned out that my answer was yes to all the above.
I was entrusted with the Wolverine’s dog. He traveled with her, so I knew she was something special. I performed a service that has value. I made someone’s stay even more carefree and comfortable. That made me feel good. It made me feel useful. It made me feel like a part of a team that makes people happy.
To this day, I feel the same way about all things hospitality. In my career, I have experienced much in all levels of properties. As much as I gave to guests, I got back tenfold; from the appreciation from guests, the camaraderie with team members, and ultimately, from the satisfaction of doing good work each day.
No matter where I am, I get to use my hotel experience every day. I now mentor students who want to get into hospitality. I get to show them how to unearth their passions, cultivate their enthusiasm, and to build careers that give back more than most do. Here’s a little bit about my journey.
The Young Anthony
Born and raised in Las Vegas, I grew up in a family of casino executives. Following what seemed like the path my parents designed for me, I enrolled in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Hotel Administration. The work was hard, but I enjoyed it.
Anthony’s Hotel Beginnings
During my studies at UNLV, I landed my first job as a Front Desk Agent for Arizona Charlie’s Decatur. It wasn’t exactly the glamor position I dreamed about, but it was a fun experience.
I later held roles as Guest Service Representative for the Treasure Island Resort & Casino and VIP Concierge for The Mansions at MGM Grand. While at the Mansions, I had the opportunity to cater to many of the biggest spending gamblers, not to mention dignitaries, including the current President of the United States. Things were looking up. I was enjoying my career more and more. Upon completion of my studies at UNLV, I was recruited to work for the legendary Peninsula Hotel Group in Beverly Hills under their Rooms Management Leadership program.
I relocated back to my hometown of Las Vegas when Project City Center opened in 2009. I was part of the opening Concierge Team for ARIA Resort and Casino and later transferred to neighboring property, Mandarin Oriental, as Room Reservations Supervisor.
Broad Hospitality Opportunities
After Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, I made the decision to transition out of hotel operations world and apply my hospitality expertise as an Implementation Specialist for Micros Oracle. I oversaw the training of the hotel property management software, OPERA, and installed the system at many hotels in the North America region.
Transitioning … to Education
Although the opportunity to travel for work was exciting, I had to think about what I was passionate about. After much internal strife, I concluded that I missed the service aspect. I helped implement PMS at hotels and taught their staff, but I did not have enough time to deliver the complementary skill set of passionate service.
I went back to the world of hotel operations as a Guest Services Manager for The LINQ Hotel and Casino. I was responsible for the overall re-training and development of the existing team members during the extensive renovation of the Imperial Palace to the newly rebranded The LINQ Hotel and Casino.
Shortly after the remodel, I was approached by TISOH: The International School of Hospitality to become their Student Affairs Program Manager. It was like a light bulb went off. I found a position that allowed me to share my passion for service, help mold the proper attitude of mind in newcomers to help them succeed in their newly chosen field of hospitality.
Fast forward to today, I assist students with career placement and networking opportunities within the industry. I spend time guiding each student through their employment process and interview skills. To solidify my commitment to education, I recently earned my Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) designation through the American Hotel and Lodging Education Institution. I now even write a column in MyVegas magazine as their career expert columnist.
That’s my story. What is yours?