Name: Kasey E.
Position: Director of Housekeeping
Hotel: Sheraton Overland Park at the Convention Center, Kansas
Dream destination: The Egyptian Pyramids. Marriott has one of our Marriott Flagged hotels that sits at the base of the pyramids, so guests have a constant view of the pyramids. Who wouldn’t want to wake up to that view each day?
Drink or treat of choice: Hands down, classic cheesecake!
For some people, working at Marriott is the ultimate career goal from the get-go, even when they’re still new in college. Such was the case for Kasey, Director of Housekeeping at the Sheraton Overland Park at the Convention Center located just a short drive from Kansas City.
“I went to school for hospitality management, and throughout my time in college, I used to sit in on the Marriott International career presentations and dream about all the endless opportunities and amazing journeys that Marriott could take me on,” Kasey recalls.
During his senior year, Kasey applied for Voyage, Marriott’s training program for recent college graduates that, as he explains, helps the participants understand the basic functions of all hotel departments, along with completing a hotel simulator, and how to build a management career.
“This program challenges students to think outside of their department and their comfort zone to better understand the business and the company,” he says. “I knew that this program would help me fast-track my career goals.”
After an interview with his university’s recruiting team, he received a call informing him that he would be traveling to Dallas the following weekend for the Voyage interview event. “I was overjoyed with excitement.”
Filled with just as much enthusiasm as fear, he traveled to the final interview event where top leaders from Marriott shared their experience at the company, told the students about the Put People First philosophy and explained the company’s sustainability initiatives. He knew he was in the right place.
“I will never forget the text message I received from the recruiter with a link to a video from our late CEO, Arne Sorenson, congratulating me on being accepted into the Voyage program and explaining the adventure I was about to go on.”
When he completed his undergraduate the summer of 2018, Kasey moved to Chicago where he started working as a food and beverage Voyager at The Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk hotel. When he finished his year-long program, he was promoted to manager of restaurants and bars, overseeing the lobby bar operations. Unfortunately, due to the Covid pandemic impact on his hotel, he relocated to Texas, where he worked for another company before returning to Marriott in October 2022 as the Director of Housekeeping at the Sheraton Overland Park at the Convention Center.
The Voyage program has forever changed my career with Marriott,” he says of this experience that made him feel more knowledgeable and confident to work in different departments and offered him exciting learning opportunities, like taking part in leadership classes hosted by E-Cornell. “[This program] has also allowed me to connect with various leaders within Marriott that I met during my Voyage program, and to help develop other leaders through the Voyage Mentor Program.”
Now that you know how he got there, learn all about his experience as Director of Housekeeping in his own words, below.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
An amazing journey and this is just the beginning. Since I started with Marriott, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, cross-training, and supporting sister properties [other Marriott hotels] in Hawaii, Utah, and Chicago. These assignments and training have helped me not only grow my formal education and understanding of Marriott systems and brands, but it’s also helped me make some pretty amazing connections within the company. I honestly can’t wait to see where the next opportunity lies for me within Marriott. After all, working for the world’s largest travel company certainly has countless opportunities.
What was your Marriott interview process like, and any tips for candidates who want a role like yours?
Marriott stands by the STAR interview method which focuses on behavioral questions. My number one piece of advice is to have a couple of STAR interview answers ready to go! The majority of the situations you have encountered can be turned into a STAR answer. The best piece of advice is to be yourself, and do not think about how you think the interviewer wants you to answer the questions.
What’s your favorite part of working at Marriott?
The people! No matter what industry you work in, you spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your family. And the people that I’ve met this far in my Marriott career have been amazing! They go out of their way to make you feel welcomed from the moment you step in and that relationship lasts even after you start a new Marriott chapter. I’ve been to a couple of weddings in which we have a Marriott work family table, which allows old leaders, friends and mentors to celebrate our new, old, and current colleagues´ new life. Our leaders also go out of their way to help, train, develop, and promote their subordinates to their next role with Marriott, which is truly amazing.
When have you felt like a part of a community at Marriott?
One of the greatest things about [working at] Marriott is the advantage of being able to connect with other leaders in our market through our quarterly cadres, [which are] meetings that allow us to connect on a social, professional, and educational basis. Not only do these meetings make large markets like Chicago feel like home, but they also provide a sense of community and belonging. I know that if I ever find myself in a staffing or generic problem that I need help with, I can reach out to one of my fellow leaders I meet at these local encounters for support and guidance.
What does Marriott’s value of “Put People First” mean to you?
This value is by far the most important one in our company. It’s at the center of everything we do, and it focuses on the impact that our decisions as leaders have on our associates. We as a company focus on our most important asset, our people! One of the greatest changes I’ve seen Marriott make [in this matter] is to increase the wages of our Heart of House associates (AKA, those who work behind the scenes, like housekeepers, engineers and more). Our associates’ wages are higher than our competitors’. Not only does that help retain our amazing talent, but it gives them more financial comfort so that they can take care of their families and not stress about major life and financial issues.
How would you describe Marriott’s culture?
Contagious! It truly is inspiring and amazing watching all of our properties come together across the globe to put into action Marriott’s Serve 360 program. This program is Marriott’s way of making the communities, cities, and the world in which we live, operate, and manage our hotels a little better. Serve 360 looks to reduce Marriott’s Environmental footprint while also increasing our presence in our local communities. It’s extremely exciting to see what our more than 100,000 associates can do worldwide, from hosting local food drives for soup kitchens to building homes with Habitat for Humanity, to cleaning up parks and neighborhoods. It makes us feel extremely good about the company that we work for and also to incorporate these Serve 360 values into our daily lives. It’s not a back thought, rather it’s a forethought for all Marriott associates and leaders.
What is your favorite part of the job?
The best part about hospitality and my job is the amazing people I get to work with and watch grow. No matter how chaotic our days get, I know that through the stress and chaos, my team and fellow leaders will all be beside me and my team will be laughing, joking, and getting through it all. That makes those crazy days all worth the while.
How have you used the Marriott Explore Rate?
The Explore Rate is by far the best perk of the job! This rate allows associates to travel at a discounted rate during our time off. This benefit has personally allowed me to cross off some of my ‘bucket list’ destinations, like the Sheraton Waikiki, in Hawaii, which is one of the best hotels I’ve visited so far.