That Concierge Life, Series Finale: Lebron James

As I craft my exit from this world, it would be amiss if I didn’t address the masses as to why my decision is what it is.  

I became a Concierge in September last year. Every day during my tenure I wore that title like a badge of honor.  I’ve had the privilege of working with celebrities, meeting great people and making lifelong connections in the industry.

The science experiment that my company planned however, has failed. Instead of keeping steady with tradition, they created a hybrid of a position that combined VIP Services, Host Assistance and Concierge into one. They also maintained a call center mentality where if other parts of the property telecom systems were backed up, we would assist. There were nights where our guests would take second fiddle to a casino host’s accounting duties. There were times where our housekeeping department would get backed up and the calls would default to concierge, leaving us to clean up messes that we have no business cleaning up. Meanwhile, the gentleman who needed reservations for his 25th wedding anniversary hangs up the telephone after a 17 minute wait because the perception to him is that a.) We don’t have time for him or b.) We have a poorly run Concierge department. 

The members of management at my company are passionate folks. They are also very capable; so when they took the complaints from our guests, they didn’t take them lightly. They began planning changes that would not only improve our performance in the eyes of our guests, but in the eyes of us, the employee.

This brings us today. Positive changes are coming to our property. Needless to say, the Frankenstein VIP Concierge department is being dissolved, giving us all a choice between going to a traditional Concierge department, VIP Services, Host Assistance and Resort Services. We could also take a layoff on good terms. 

The former three options would include a move from the corporate office to the main property for daily operations. The Resort Services position would remain at corporate, where I began my hospitality career.

So I decided to retire, perhaps temporarily, from the world of Concierge. Instead, I’ll be taking my talents to Resort Services.

Yes, I really used those words.

Lebron James, NBA MVP and Champion

Makes sense, because around the company my decision is being likened to how the NBA’s Lebron James would have been received had he stayed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010.  The main critisim I received was the big fish scenario.  Lebron James was too large to stay in Cleveland. As a city, it just wasn’t as attractive to other players nor was it necessarily a strong look for marketability. Basically, he was a big fish in a small pond.

By moving to Miami he increased his is visibility in the market and became a big fish in a big pond. Then his skills, along with the addition of Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade effectively formed the ‘big three,’ and a year later those cats were champions.

That is the scenario that management laid out before me, had I moved. By working on property, my visibility (marketability) would grow into more opportunities, faster. I’d be a big fish in a big pond with big opportunities around me.

I have to be one hundred percent honest though, I didn’t see it happening like that.

I know how good I am and I know how good I can be in the right environment.  I also know that by moving to property with a bunch of my other fellow employees, I wouldn’t be Lebron James. I’d be closer to Udonis Haslem (one of my favorite players by the way) in the pecking order. I’d be the former team captain who’s now a role player with less playing time (You know, a bad schedule).  As good as my skills are,  I just didn’t see myself as a game changer there.  As a matter of fact, I really don’t even know that going to property can even be likened to going to Miami. I’m inclined to say that moving to property in my current state would more be like Dwight Howard staying in ORLANDO! Complete misery.

(For the non-basketball fans, the All Star Center, Dwight Howard hated the Orlando Magic and has since been traded to Los Angeles.  Basically, Dwight Howard signed his contract exception that kept him as a member of the Magic when trade talks broke down last season. He was trying to do right in the eyes of the fans and franchise when doing so, but that’s not what he really wanted, thus the drama and eventual trade to the Lakers.)

 Why?

I live a good 45 minutes away from work. Balancing that part of my day is hard enough, so I leave an hour in advance to ensure traffic doesn’t prevent me from being late. Moving to property would entail me to park a couple block away from the actual hotel, catch a shuttle to the hotel and when I arrive, I’d have to get into uniform and store my personal clothes. According to the stories I’ve heard, the shuttle isn’t always reliable, so it’s best to try to give yourself at least 45 minutes before your shift to catch it and arrive on time to get dressed before the start of your shift.  Like leaving to work every morning, 45 minutes to me equals an hour in reality, JUST IN CASE.

So, aside from the hour it takes for me to get ready at home, I would have to deal with nearly a two hour commute to work. TWO HOURS. This is Las Vegas, people. I could understand two hours if I lived in the Los Angeles area and had to deal with gridlock traffic… and got paid $60,000 a year.

Giving  up three hours of my personal time prior to work each day is a mighty sacrifice. To make matters worse; it could be another hour after my shift ENDS before I could actually leave work and start my second 45 minute drive to return home. For the math majors, that’s about four hours and forty-five minutes of lost personal time wrapped around an 8 hour work shift.

I have a book I want to complete by the end of the year. I also have weight to lose and I also would like to continue to have a social life. Losing close to 5 hours a day of time that I’m not being compensated for would be counterproductive to my personal dreams and health goals, which in the LONG TERM outweigh being a big fish in a big pond with lofty possibilities.

I echoed my opinion on the matter countless times this week. I got pulled into meetings, I got emails and I even had DREAMS about my decision. Honestly, I had no idea how coveted I was as an employee here.  

It makes me feel good that I’m valued here by my upper management. Though we didn’t necessarily agree on my decision, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they weren’t just looking out for my best interests. Hell, I almost regretted my decision after speaking with them.

Keyword: Almost.

Re-signing with Resort Services gives me and actual concrete opportunity to stand out and truly emerge as the Lebron James of the hotel game. I think that I can lend my expertise and experience to folks who came in under me and help everyone’s game, not just to be a standout performer.  

Though my visibility would increase to the big guns on property if I was there every day, I think that my ability to contribute here and actually improve my entire department would make a greater long term impact in my pursuit of hotel conquest. After all, Lebron James is a team player.

I’m going to get my points. My rebounding and assists however is what’s going to take our team to a higher level. The fact that I was raised in Cleveland and I like it here also helps.  

Am I making sense now?

The cats on property ALREADY know who I am and what I’m capable of, so why would they forget about me should a leadership position open up down the line? I mean, just one of my decisions triggered a flood of inquiries and meetings… trust me, they know that I’m a pretty big deal.

If they really want to get gully though, all they would have to do is offer me a position in management and I’m there. Stop telling me how good I am and just freaking promote and pay me. Then I can wear my own business suits, park on property and keep my personal time personal, which is how I like it.

Until then, I’ll be working diligently on making the city of Cleveland shine.

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