2006 Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Graduate Achieves Success at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort
For the sake of clarity East Stroudsburg University calls its HRTM (Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management) program just that. But while you’ll be prepared for success in the areas of its acronym-defying title, for certain, it will also help you achieve an underlying goal implicit in those industries: HRTM will train you in the fine art of people caring.
Ask Tara Brinker, a 2006 graduate of the program and the award-winning guest services manager at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. “You have to be a certain kind of person to work in this industry,” Brinker says. “You need to want people to have the best time possible.” Brinker has been helping guests have a good time at Shawnee Inn since 2007. But in 2011 came an unexpected career twist. “It was then,” says Brinker, “that I was promoted to my current position to help elevate guest service and to increase repeat business.”
It’s a truism that repeat business is the lifeblood of any profession. And though Shawnee has always had an excellent track record bringing back its clientele, it is always wise to maintain one’s record and, indeed, there is always room for increase. So, enter Brinker in her newest role as guest services manager. “I am the first point of contact for guests,” she says. “Even before they arrive I get in touch with them to help detail their time here.”
It seems to be working. The Inn has significantly increased its repeat business in the little over two years Brinker has been in her position. But while she is happy to make a difference in guests’ stay at Shawnee, she recognizes that teamwork is imperative and is quick to give due credit both to her staff and her coworkers.
Whether or not Brinker wants recognition, however, her commitment to the job earns it. And 2012 saw it coming her way in spades. Last spring the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau presented her with a gold pin as the Pocono Brand Ambassador Award. Then she was one of four finalists nominated for Lodging Member of the Year by the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association. And if that were not enough to keep her smile smiling, Brinker was honored as one of the Top 20 under 40 in Business by the Northeast Pennsylvania Business Journal. But it’s the bottom line that pleases Brinker far more than recognition: “You know if [your guests] want to come back here and not go somewhere else,” she says, “they love you and they love this place.”