Iʼm Still Teaching; Just in a Different Way
Even though Michael Quinn's degrees are in Finance, he never wanted to be in business. Instead, he wanted to be an architect. So how did he end up in Hospitality education and then as the new Front Office Manager at the Nittany Lion Inn?
With a laugh, he explains. “While I was working on my education at James Madison University, I was employed in a hotel and I loved it. I always thought I wanted to get back to it as a career. I did teach in Penn State's School of Hospitality Management for four years, but it was lacking something for me personally. I really liked teaching, but I much prefer the interaction with the guests, staff, and students all at the same time.”
According to Quinn, when the Front Desk job at the Inn opened up, he jumped at the chance to get back to doing what he loved the most. “I am a people person, and I really love the fact that you never know who is going to walk through the front door next. I get to meet and greet people all day long and I'm not just a face in a crowd.”
One of Quinn's long-term goals for his new position is to be sure that everyone who interacts with the public gives the same level of service. “I don't want guests to come in and request a certain person's area because they get better service there. I want every guest to get the same high level of service in every corner of this hotel.”
On a day-to-day basis, Quinn notes that his major activity is planning. “We are organizing and coordinating all the time, with lots of activity behind the scenes that the guests never see. We need to be prepared for any flurry of activity and it's never boring.”
Quinn notes that the Inn has a very special atmosphere. “It's always fun. Nobody comes here and feels bad about staying at the Inn. Its history and traditions are well known and everyone wants to be here. Not only that, but students want to work here. It's more fun than going to class, and they learn just as much. Our student employees can't wait to come to work. Every one of our employees is a concierge. I love it and I'm so much happier here. I can touch students here in a way that I could never do in the classroom; I'm still teaching, just in a different way.”
As an example of thinking out of the box, Quinn notes that he created a “scavenger hunt” for employees to help them explore and learn about the hotel. “Everyone had fun with that and hopefully they all learned something in the process. Really, I think of this as the Disney World of Penn State. It's one of the happiest places on earth!”