Whether you have a master’s degree or never attended college, whether you have worked in hospitality or not, Philadelphia’s booming hotel industry may be looking for you.
The industry opened three new hotels and added 4,900 jobs to the 272,000 hospitality staff in the Philadelphia area last year, according to the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau. The city is welcoming six new hotels this year, including the Four Seasons Hotel, which is planning a two-day job fair to hire more than 500 people.
And hundreds of apartments throughout the city center are being converted into quasi-hotel rooms for guests seeking homier overnight stays.
“Developers were very smart when they rushed to invest and build hotels after 2015 when Philadelphia was awarded the first world heritage city in the nation,” noted Jamie Cooperstein, adjunct instructor at Drexel Center for Food and Hospitality Management.
“The city saw more international tourists after then. Philadelphia became a must stop and its position in American history got recognized,” Cooperstein said. “Before that, tourists may have just visited New York and D.C.”
The city didn’t have enough hotel rooms in the downtown area before, and when Philly was holding large conventions, visitors had to stay in South Jersey and near the airport, Cooperstein added. “The World Heritage City designation had a humongous effect in making Philadelphia getting recognition in international tourism.”
One hotel planning a big recruitment effort is Four Seasons Philadelphia. Scheduled to open this summer on the top 12 floors of the Comcast Technology Center, Four Seasons will host a two-day job fair at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on March 25 and 26.
“This is a really great opportunity for someone to build their career" in hospitality, said Ben Shank, general manager at Four Seasons Philadelphia. “They could build magnificent upward mobility by joining us this summer.” Seventy-five percent of promotions at Four Seasons are internal, Shank said. “People could join the team in any capacity and get promoted to elevated positions in Philly or other Four Seasons around the world.”
Citing himself as an example, Shank took advantage of the hotel’s upward mobility, starting as a part-time bus boy at Philadelphia’s old Four Seasons two decades ago. He moved to seven other locations, including New York, Hawaii and Arizona, and opened the Four Seasons Orlando Resort before returning to Philadelphia.
The old site was built in 1983 and closed in 2014 for relocation construction. The new Four Seasons is the last component of the new Comcast Technology Center, with 219 rooms rising to the tower’s top from floors 48 to 60. It features a street-level lobby, restaurants by award-winning chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Greg Vernick, and a spa.
The 500-plus recruitment campaign seeks employees at all levels: from front desks receptionist, door attendants and housekeepers to spa therapists, fitness trainers and floral designers. The hotel is also trying to fill a few management positions.
The targeted talent pool includes not only people with past experiences or hospitality degrees but also those with just high school degrees. “For us, it’s more about how they are going to deliver an experience and who they are as a person,” Shank said. “We like it when people have technical skills, but we would much rather hire someone who has the right attitude and kindness, positive energy and true hospitality. We can train them on the technical skills.”
Shank said most full-time employees will work in eight-hour shifts. The company offers full timers health insurance benefits a matching 401(k) program, and paid vacations, Shank said. The company also offers complimentary meals and programs that allow every hotel employee to stay in other Four Seasons around the world for free.
Philadelphia hotels pay well compared with other service industries, said Ed Grose, executive director at the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association. “Most housekeepers make between $14 to $20 an hour if you don’t consider tips on top.” According to Grose, most banquet servers make more, about $50,000 a year.
“High-caliber tourism and hospitality jobs – one of the largest employment sectors in the city – are boosting Philadelphia’s economy, and we anticipate continued growth in the years to come,” said Pennsylvania Convention Center president and CEO John McNichol in a statement.
Applicants interested in Four Seasons jobs need to apply online by searching Philadelphia at jobs.fourseasons.com and attending the job fair. If selected, candidates go through several rounds of interviews after the fair.
The five other hotels opening in Philadephia this year are Lokal Hotel Fishtown, Pod Philly, Hyatt Place Hotel Airport, Mainstay Suites, and Ascend Hotel Collection.