Is Motel Manager a Decent Job for Me Based on my Goals??
September 9, 2012 4:55 PM   Subscribe

Through a friend I have been offered the opportunity to work at a "mom and pop" 60 bed motel that has a fitness center, pool, and serves meals. It averages decent ratings from guests. I'm up for the challenge but I'm no spring chicken. I lost a good paying position in the recession in 208 and subsequently had to drop out of a Ph.D program just before comps- and it looks like I won't be finishing that degree any time soon, because I currently work in a call center and can't even afford a car.

One of my dissertation interests is urban agriculture and housing communities set up to support it. I'd love the opportunity to work alongside community designers to plan and/or design and/or run such a community. I figure that work in fields somehow related to such an endeavor would be helpful since I can't afford to return to school.

The motel job is is live-in and would give me experience in property management, which I think would be very helpful. The pay is HORRID but includes room and board and internet. I wouldn't need a car, and I'm hoping I can get at least breakfasts out of the deal!

Basically the only reason I'm considering such a job is to put a management position back on my resume and to gain experience for my career goals. I do have experience as a travel agent and in management, but not enough to impress employers.

My questions to people with this type of experience run along the lines of: What is it really like to work as a live-in motel manager? Does it look good on a resume? Would this kind of experience help me with the career goals I've mentioned? What skills will I be building? What makes a great motel manager? How can I parlay this position into something better paying down the road? What are the pros and cons?

This call center job does not use my best skills and is a go-nowhere job. The pay is good for the current economy, however, and I have health insurance - plus I can walk there. I won't leave my current job if a motel manager position won't move me toward my goals.
posted by Piscean to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I live in the Orlando, FL area. One of the top resort / vacation towns in the world. I know MANY people that work in the hospitality business. University of Central Florida and Florida State both have well known hospitality / hotel management profession.

With a year or so experience running this hotel, you could then apply for a hospitality job in a major resort. This is a job you can parlay into living in some exotic places. Apply to work at a resort in Miami Beach, Vegas, or Aspen.
posted by Flood at 5:10 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think this is a much better bet than call center work if you can figure out how to manage the health insurance end of things. My brother did this work for a bit and it was surprisingly strong on his resume---people assume that if you can manage a motel/inn/b&b successfully that you have strong people skills and are good at coping with the unexpected.

Something else to think about is management at writers' and artists' retreats as a future path, if this experience works out. Someone with grad school and hospitality experience is so prized in that field.

If getting your MA from the Ph. D program you left is a matter of paperwork, definitely make it happen. That was one of the things I neglected to do when I left academia, and it was a silly oversight on my part.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:22 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nthing Flood. I live in the Midwest and went to school at a fairly large university and there were a TON of hospitality majors. On top of that, I worked at a resort on the Lake of the Ozarks which attracts a billion tourists. When I left, having worked at the marina, ice rink, bowling alley, and fitness center, I was a manager after just three summers.

If you dig the field you were studying, I'd suggest taking the job. Stay for a few years, save your money, and parlay that into a career on a resort somewhere awesome. If you intend to stay in this field, it'd be great to have on a resume. I'm assuming this is not a chain (I worked at a Marriot chain before it was bought out but saw tons of employees transfer to awesome places like the Caymans) which I think would probably look better but this is good enough, especially considering the added perk of not having to drive and free rent.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:28 PM on September 9, 2012

Does the motel position have some health insurance? How horrid is the pay if you add in what you'd otherwise spend on room and board (and subtract health care)? Have you visited the motel in person— would it be an unpleasant place to spend a lot of your time?

Abstractly this seems like a no-brainer. (I say "abstractly" because I'm not the one who has to take the leap.) You have a choice between a go-nowhere job and a job that… might go somewhere related to your interests, and if not, might at least be a non–dead-end job.
posted by hattifattener at 5:47 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hotel manager would actually be your title? That's awesome. The people reading your future resume don't have to know that it was just a dumpy little place (so to speak). I think there are really strong reasons to consider this a superior opportunity to call center work. For one thing, if your goal is to be a community planner of some sort, this gives you the opportunity to network with other people in the place where the hotel is, and get involved in a committee or some such that could eventually lead to e.g. getting appointed to the plan commission. It may be a long shot to think this way, but depending on the size of the community may be totally doable. Find ways to link your work to community and planning issues, such as by linking up with the local tourism board.

It's only a springboard to the extent that you make it one.
posted by dhartung at 5:53 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

What skills would you be building? What skills WOULDN'T you be building? Management, P&L, marketing, customer service, food & beverage ...

Half my family is in the hotel biz. It's great work in an industry that will never truly go away, because humans will always move around, eat and sleep.

The cons? You *must* love people, for all their foibles. Because you will see them all.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:05 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Would the owners let you set up an urban garden? I would imagine that having that twist on your resume would really help you get to where you need to be.
posted by dawkins_7 at 6:17 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Does the motel have any space where you could plant some crops? And then serve them in the restaurant? or set up a vegetable stand? A lot of the motels I see have large mowed areas that might be perfect for gardens. you'd maybe be the first, keep a journal, write it up, get published, yes!
posted by mareli at 6:24 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It could also be a good stepping stone toward working for a rental management company. From there, maybe (?) you could jump to working for a developer who builds multifamily properties with a garden component. The jump from building management to development could be a bit difficult, but this job is definitely better for your career than call center work.
posted by slidell at 7:41 PM on September 9, 2012

I dunno, it sounds like hella fun to me.

If I were single and needed a gig, this seems perfect. I also enjoy cooking.

Do you know what you're getting into? Are there problems? Is there an opportunity to revamp and put your stamp on the property.

Off hand, the one thing I thought of was that you could do an on-site kitchen garden that would factor into some of the menus on the meal side of things. (Omletes with fresh herbs and seasonal veggies.) You could even offer little tutorials on gardening or plants in the area. To tie into your interests and knowledge.

nthing calling your school to see if they'll give you a Master's, just so you can close that loop. Sooner, rather than later on that one.

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Plus, you can see if there's a bar or some place you could moonlight for a bit of pocket money on the side.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are awesome answers and very helpful. Responses to some of your comments:
- I already have a Master's degree.
-I asked about the possibility of building an organic vegetable garden and it looks like they might allow me to build one. I need to investigate this more. I also bake artisan breads and may be able to do that there as well, which is very exciting.
-The bad thing is they do not offer insurance. I think I can pay for Cobra for 18 months through my current job, and I can look into group plans for hotel/motel workers, so that's an area worth investigating.
-A moonlighting job is definitely something to consider, but I don't know if a live-in management job would allow that. Seems like they are pretty time-consuming and expect you to be on-call!
posted by Piscean at 7:52 AM on September 11, 2012

Best answer: I think it sounds like an interesting job, and could perhaps be a stepping stone towards the community housing jobs you are interested in. Look at the requirements for the housing director and assistant project manager jobs here, for example -- this job could be spun to provide some of what they are looking for, but at some point you'll need to figure out the bridge from what you are doing to what you want to be doing.
posted by Forktine at 5:54 AM on September 16, 2012

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