Ten years ago, Mark Jakos had a choice – move to Toronto or Vancouver and become a stock broker, or continue to live in one of the most spectacularly scenic regions of BC and stay in the hospitality industry.
Today, the 38-year-old front desk and reservations manager at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort still muses about joining the pinstripe suit brigade. However, he doesn’t regret opting for the kind of active, outdoor lifestyle he now leads in the East Kootenay resort town.
When his parents took over a small motel in the region back in the early 1980s, Mark helped out after school and on weekends before moving on to work part-time at the Fairmont Resort. After high school, he worked at the resort full-time for a couple of years before going to college, where he studied business. By 1993, he was back in the Fairmont area. One day, the resort called to ask if he wanted to work a few shifts. Soon he was full-time at the front desk and in reservations, and in 1997 he became manager.
“When you’re dealing with people, you never have the same situation day to day, so it’s never boring. Different things come up, different challenges to deal with. I just really like that,” he says.
Mark usually starts his day going through emails that have accumulated overnight. Then he might help with checkouts and deal with any guest problems or concerns before tackling staff scheduling, analyzing upcoming reservations to identify occupancy holes, devising strategies and rate specials to help fill them, or working out his annual budget.
The resort has a permanent staff of about 200, but during the busy May-September season it needs another 150 people. In an area with a low population base, finding them can be a problem. There has been some success in hiring people who are already doing tertiary education programs in tourism or hospitality, a route Mark thinks is a good choice for someone interested in the industry.