Denver, Colo. – October 29, 2010 - Richard Scharf ’09 Hon, president and CEO of Visit Denver, the city’s convention and tourist bureau, opened his recent talk to hospitality freshmen with a blast of realism: “You have to love the industry if you want to be successful.”
Scharf’s hospitality career began with what he thought was a temporary job with Hilton. It turned out to be his lifelong career. “I was hooked,” he said.
To Scharf, the industry’s boundless versatility is a huge asset. “Even after you decide on a single area of interest, there are multiple careers to consider,” he noted. “The possibilities are endless!”
He challenged students to broaden their definition of potential careers, and to consider multiple industries: travel (airlines, buses, rental cars, taxis and shuttles); lodging (hotels, motels, B&Bs, inns); convention centers; city attractions and restaurants.
One student asked Scharf to discuss the effect of the economy on Denver tourism — a subject close to his heart. “Corporations are booking fewer meetings, and are looking at narrower windows for planning their meetings. This makes it vital that we promote the entire city and beyond so that meeting attendees will extend their stays and maximize their tourism dollars.”
Another student asked Scharf to qualify the best skill set needed to stand out in hospitality. His answer? “Flexibility. The ability to adapt to change while adhering to stellar customer service will help you to stand out among your peers.”
Scharf urged students to take advantage of every internship and job opportunity. “Even with a college degree, the hospitality industry expects you to pay your dues and learn the business from the ground up. But, advancement can be very rapid for those who work hard.” No matter what, he added, “do not give up on your career goals.”