Name: Tu N.
Hotel: Marriott Marquis Houston
Position: Food & Beverage Voyager
Dream destination: Working as Food and Beverage director at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva in Switzerland. It’s the global capital of hospitality and The Ritz-Carlton is the pinnacle of luxury in the Marriott collection!
Drink or treat of choice: Root beer or Pepsi Nitro
After eight years as a culinary specialist in the U.S. Army, Tu decided to give his career a 180 and try hospitality. His new journey started with Marriott’s Voyage Program, which led him to the Marriott Marquis Houston, where he now works as a Food & Beverage Voyager.
“I overlook two outlets, Walker Street Kitchen and Texas T. My main responsibilities are to make sure our servers provide a ‘Wonderful Hospitality’ experience to each guest and thank those who are Bonvoy members for their loyalty,” he says.
In his army days, Tu would often serve three meals a day to groups of 50 to 5,000 people, while also helping organize the culinary aspect of holiday events. Experiences like that helped him feel confident in his new hotel environment, especially in communicating and working with the kitchen team to guarantee Marriott’s guests a memorable stay.
“At Texas T, our main audience is primarily groups of guests, so I try to be hands-on with our team assisting when needed and communicating with them about the business needs,” says Tu.
Learn more about Tu’s journey from the Army to Marriott’s Voyage Program in his own words below.
How would you describe your experience as a Marriott associate?
I have felt taken care of by my managers and fellow associates. When I express my needs or concerns to my senior leadership, they communicate and work with me to get me set for success. As for my associates and team, we have a trusting bond that allows me to handle big or more complex issues while my team handles the day-to-day obstacles. If a task seems overly difficult or I wish to further my knowledge of how each department affects one another, I can reach out to other department leaders for guidance, and they respond with open arms and hospitality.
How did you end up in the Marriott Voyage Program?
I had the pleasure of meeting my recruiter at my school’s fall career fair in 2022 at Hilton College. I showed my interest in Marriott to my recruiter who had noticed my military pin. That led us to a dialogue about my military background and my passion for service. Shortly after, I was scheduled for an interview with the S.T.A.R. questions, where you have to describe a unique situation and how you took control of it or explain how you would anticipate the guests’ needs and how you would resolve an issue.
Do you have any advice for Veterans looking to pivot into hospitality?
My advice for Veterans wanting to pivot into hospitality depends on your MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). If your MOS is similar or is related to hospitality, then it will be an easier transition. For example, from culinary special to Food and Beverage or chef. Another one would be from radio operator to Front Desk. For those who had combat MOS, I would suggest hospitality schools but, in general, all U.S. military veterans have the abilities to move, communicate, adapt, overcome, and thrive.
What has been the most impactful moment of your Marriott experience?
When my senior leaders assist us and recognize our hard work. When our restaurants are at max capacity and our team’s best isn’t enough and our morale is going down, it’s very impactful to see senior leaders come down from their office and roll up their sleeves and give a helping hand during a time of crisis. It’s also nice to be recognized by your senior leadership along with other leaders from other departments. Recognizing the effort we put in everyday to make the guest’s experience memorable, the property’s success, and building a healthy work culture.
How would you describe Marriott’s culture?
There’s a sense of “esprit de corps”, from most leaders and associates. It’s like being back in the Army, we all have a duty to achieve a primary goal, which is taking care of the guests. To achieve this goal, we need to take care of our team who in turn take care of the guests. This builds a strong foundation for a community and establishes that sense of pride and fellowship. It creates a healthy work environment and brand identity for our staff and for guests too.
How have you made the most out of your Voyage experience?
Getting in the trenches, no matter the department or job. Learn, adapt, and overcome. You’ll build trust and loyalty with your team and your leaders will see the results and the hard efforts you made.
How has Marriott supported your growth and given you the opportunity to try new things?
Trusting me and giving me new responsibilities every day.
What is your favorite part of the job?
It doesn’t feel like work, it’s more like a hobby I get paid to do.
What’s next? Where do you hope the Voyage program will take you?
One to two years after the program, I see myself at a new property as Food & Beverage Manager. Then, three years later, a Restaurant or Food & Beverage Director. Five years after that, I see myself as a hotel manager and so on until I become GM of my own property!